The ornament with message: Unveiling the Hidden Meaning and Artistry of Armenian Alphabet

The Deeper Meaning Behind Letters and Their Geometry

Have you ever thought that a letter, any letter in any alphabet - this heap of probably randomly united lines and curves - is much more than a simple symbol to transfer a sound? In many traditions, letters are sacred symbols that hide larger and deeper meanings than simply the sound they indicate. And the geometry of each letter in any known alphabet is certainly never a random heap of lines and curves. Whether in Chinese hieroglyphs or in the Latin alphabet, each letter or symbol has its history of the origin or, in more professional terminology, its morphological genealogy.
For example, while hieroglyphs might form their structure as a symbolical reference to the meaning they incarnate, the geometry of letters in the Latin alphabet does not have any particular symbolical meaning. It is a result of several layers of morphological metamorphosis that ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs underwent through Phoenician, Greek, and later Etruscan script, thus reaching the Ancient Roman or Latin script. 

The Singular Creation of the Armenian Alphabet

The situation with the Armenian alphabet is different. Let's start by saying that the history of its creation, as well as the overall organization of the alphabet itself, is surrounded with lots of myths, many of which might have pseudo-scientific or esoteric nature, which, yet, make the story of this script even more mystical and intriguing.

Having a traditional organization of four columns with nine letters in each (36 in total), each letter in the alphabet is numbered from 1 to 36 (A=1, B=2, etc.), and the columns themselves are classified according to units, dozens, hundreds, and thousands (figure 1). By such, the letters in the alphabet became numbers and were often used to indicate dates. For example, 2023 would be written ՛ՍԻԳ՛ (Ս=2000, Ի=20, Գ=3).

The Mathematical Connection: Letters and the Elements

There are also many theories that see complex mathematical regularities according to this numeric organization. One such theory draws a regularity between the sum of the alphabetical numbers of each letter in the ancient Armenian naming of the elements with its' atomic number in the Mendeleev periodic table.

The Remarkable Creation: Mesrop Mashtots and the Armenian Alphabet

Another very peculiar fact about this ancient alphabet is that it was created by one person - Mesrop Mashtots. Usually, languages, alphabets, myths, traditions, and anything that has to do with global culture are a result of a nation's cumulative creation throughout centuries, and it is very rare that such a major cultural phenomenon as an alphabet would be literally coined by one person (but for Armenian culture, this is not the only case.
Alexander Tamanyan might be considered as the sole author of Armenian neo-national architecture or, equally, Komitas might be seen as the 'pitchfork' of Armenian neo-national music). Culture as a man-made phenomenon is usually opposed to nature. Nevertheless, only naturally developed cultures have vitality and the capacity to serve people. Language and script are one of the most sensitive cultural 'products' that can be vital only if they respond perfectly to the needs and thinking of given people. Consider Esperanto, a language that was artificially created to become the universal human language but didn't become enrooted among any group of people. In this regard, the alphabet created by Mesrop Mashtots in the 5th century corresponded so perfectly to the spoken Armenian that it survived almost unchanged till our days.


Beyond such functions as, for example, acting as numbers, letters in all alphabets also act as ornaments. 

The graphisme or the geometrical structure of letters is on its own a whole science that has its rules and principles. Calligraphy is the ancient science of artful lettering that can modify the structure of a letter to almost an abstract version of itself. Yet calligraphy is a science which is very close to architecture. Letters have a fundamental structure that must be taken into consideration during its modification. The 'material' or the tool with which it is being 'constructed' plays a crucial role in its structure. Like a wooden structure cannot have the same form as a concrete one, similarly, a letter drawn with a brush cannot have the same form as a letter drawn by a calligraphic pen. Nevertheless, despite this seemingly structural rigidity, calligraphy masters manage to create myriads of different artful scripts that are a pure delight for the eye.

In this regard, the Armenian alphabet is probably one of the most structured and geometrically sound alphabets that exist. All the 36 letters have a structure based on a common geometric grid (pic.3). While this structural depiction is just a generalization of the geometric regularity that unites all the letters in the alphabet, it is evident that the structural or the geometrical logic of the letters fits perfectly into this grid system.

Nevertheless, there are many other versions regarding the morphological genesis of Armenian letters, and here we will tell you one of the most interesting, witty but, unfortunately, totally unscientific versions coined by an Armenian amateur historian. He derives the structure of each letter according to its similarity to a word that starts with that letter. For example, letter Բ might look like a mouth and corresponds to the first letter of Armenian 'beran' that stands for 'mouth'. Similarly, the letter Գ looks like a head and by some miracle is the first letter in the Armenian word 'glukh' that means... guess what? A head!


Reviving Armenian Lettering: Transforming Tradition into Artistic Jewelry

Whatever the origin of the morphology of Armenian letters, its structural principle is always taken into consideration by the best designers while creating new artistic fonts. Having said this, it becomes evident that Gugoco, as a company that studies Armenian heritage with the aim of giving a new modernized spirit to it, couldn't pass by the vast source of creativity that the Armenian lettering offers. Besides, the alphabet, along with religion, has been one of the main pillars of the Armenian nationality, helping Armenian people to safeguard their national identity throughout the complex historical turmoil that they had to undergo. Hence, turning Armenian letters into ornaments for jewelry is another way of paying tribute to this ancient culture and contributing to its popularization among people who value unique ancient traditions.


The design of the new Armenian font we have come up with is modern, simple, and minimalist. It has clear contours and a slim composition of basic structural lines-all in the DNA of Gugoco! 

It is elegant and sophisticated at the same time. Strictly geometrical, minimalist, but also very ornamental. That is why we refer to the design of this collection as Art-Deco design - a style that was the most geometrically logical but at the same time, oh so ornate!

 We have entitled this collection 'Vosketar,' which in Armenian means "golden letter." As in all our collections, here as well, the choice of the title is deeply symbolic and hides layers of meaning. Gold is the noblest of all metals, and in Armenian ancient tradition, "golden" has been the adjective describing the artistic supremacy or skillfulness of artists, poets, philosophers, and artisans. Our Vosketar collection is not only physically made in gold but also represents one of the supreme artistic and intellectual manifestations of Armenian culture—the Armenian alphabet!

Stylized letters of the Armenian alphabet, as well as those of the Latin alphabet, are available as pendants, rings, and bracelets. While for those who have Armenian origin, these letters might act as a token of their personal and national identity, for those who are not familiar with the Armenian alphabet, these letters will always attract attention with their unique design. Ancient and unknown letters, particularly disguised under a design of an artful font, always look very stylish and mystical, hinting at the profound message of the wisdom of centuries that they encode. 

Armenian letter  Է "Eh" - Gugoco



Special thanks to the author, Eva S, a journalist and architectural critic.