Maggs Bros Ltd

[Armenian] Girk’ Patmut’ean srboy ew meci k’alak’is Astoucoy Erusalemis, ew srboc’ tnorinakanac’ teleac’ tearn meroy Yisusi K’ristoci.

HOVHANNES Hanna (1767-1768.)

£5500.00 

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Fourth edition. Armenian text. Title within woodcut architectural border, woodcut illustration to p.10, woodcut headpiece and margin decoration to p.11, woodcut tailpiece to last page of prelims.; copiously decorated with woodcut initials and woodcut decoration to borders throughout. 4to. Contemporary black blindstamped goatskin, professionally repaired. Numerous ms. notations in Armenian. pp. 392, [4]. With 4pp. prelims. bound in at end. Constantinople, Yovhannes Astuacaturi,

A pilgrim guidebook to Jerusalem, which includes a history of the Holy City and passages on the author’s integral part in improving the fortunes of the Armenian Quarter in the early 18th century.  

Hanna Hovhannes (c.1693-1733) was born in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem, in the neighbourhood of the Cathedral of Sts. James, where he lived and worked for the duration of his life. He was ordained a priest to the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem in 1714.  

At the time of his ordination, the Patriarchate was almost entirely bankrupt due to the corrupt behaviour of representatives of the Patriarchate of Istanbul (known as ‘nazrs’), who had been trusted with administering matters in the Holy Land. To remedy the onrushing ruin a new patriarch, Hovhannes Kolot of Bitlis, and his successor Grigor of Shirvan, set about the task of raising funds to pay off the debt and subsequently began to rejuvenate the Armenian Quarter.  

Their most trusted collaborator in such efforts proved to be young Hanna, who showed immense aptitude and will: performing architectural renovations (to the monastery compound and to the Armenian parts of the Holy Sepulchre Church), ceaselessly fundraising and pacifying the monastery’s creditors. His importance to the recovery was such that when Patriarch Grigor was sequestered in Istanbul on a fundraising campaign he issued a patriarchal edict (his first) naming Hanna as acting patriarch.  

Despite his many exertions, Hanna found time to compose this guidebook, which was popular enough to run to five editions between 1727 and 1782. In addition to offering a "first-hand view of the pilgrimage experience… [and] valuable details concerning the holy sites" (Ervine, p.74) he wrote about the work he was engaged in for the good of the Patriarchate. Therefore, there is much useful first-hand information on the history outlined above. cf. Roberta Ervine, “Portrait of a local saint: Hanna of Jerusalem” in Religion and the Arts, Vol. 15 (2011), pp. 61-81.

All editions are rare, with COPAC and Worldcat locating only one holding of this, the 1767-1768, at the London Library. While the 1727 and 1731 editions have both appeared at auction in the past five years, there appear to be very few institutional holdings (with Worldcat listing one copy of the 1727, at the University of Michigan). The British Library holds multiple copies (some catalogued as the ‘Revised edition’) of the 1734 edition and one of the 1782 edition.

Stock Code: 221533