Enchanting World of Armenian Trchnakir Calligraphy

Birds were one of the most common personages in the myths and fairytales of different nations. From the fantastic phoenix in Greek mythology to the eagle in American-Indian shamanism, birds, whether real or imaginary, have been symbolizing different meanings and incarnating various characters.

armenian trachnakir story

Being creatures possessing the capacity of flying-this eternal yet unachievable dream of humans, birds were seen as mystical entities standing between the earth-the human domain, and the sky-the domain of God.

  • *‘Hazaran blbul’-the Armenian firebird by Stepan Kojoyan, 1925 
  • *An illustration to the Armenian traditional fairytale “Hazaran Blbul” 
  • *Hazaran Blbul by Martiros Saryan, 1937

No wonder that in Christian mythology and theology, birds have their special role. Whilst the largely known dove and the raven of Noah have a particular historical role in the Bible, other birds, such as the crane or owl, obtained their symbolical roles in Christian scholastics due to their natural and biological habits, such as loyalty, strength or nocturnal habits.

*Birds in ancient Armenian miniature illustrating the Holy Scripture

Being iridescently colored creatures whose graceful flight in the sky would evoke the deepest aesthetic feelings, birds became one of the main characters of medieval miniatures and decorative script, also known as the art of calligraphy. In Armenian medieval calligraphy, known for its distinctive artistic style, a unique tradition of decorative lettering was developed that was based on the image of birds. Trchnagir (‘trch’-bird and ‘gir’-scripture) or trchnatar (‘trch’-bird and ‘tar’-letter) is the Armenian medieval calligraphy art where all the letters of the alphabet are presented as birds. Having a strict geometrical structure, Armenian trchnagir letters presented formed their image by replacing the linear trace of the pen by ornate figures of birds and sometimes fish intertwined in places with geometrical ornaments. 

*Armenian alphabet in trchnagir

Medieval Armenian scripts were written by the so-called tsakhkoghs, which literally means a flowerer, a person who turns something into a flower. The word tsakhkogh comes from the word ‘tsaghik’-flower, because the scripters would turn geometric letters and scripts into ornate pieces of art or, otherwise, would make it ‘blossom’. With the same logic, we have the Armenian ‘tsakhkats khach’-the blossomed cross, a purely Armenian tradition of depicting the cross with leaves at the ends, which would symbolize the transition of Christ’s ‘death tree’ or ‘death wood’ into the tree of life. You can read more about the Armenian blossomed cross and Gugoco’s Nova cross, a contemporary interpretation of this beautiful traditional symbol, here. 

Birds were not the only decorative motif used to ornate Armenian letters. There were also mardatars (‘mard’-human), letters that had the shape of humans, kendanatars and gazanatars (‘kendani’-animal, ‘gazan’-beast), letters that were formed by figures of different animals and zardatars (‘zard’-ornament), letters with intricate ornaments in its’ structure.*Armenian Zardatar letters

The Bird-Letter pendants collection by Gugoco is an homage to this beautiful ancient Armenian art of artistic writing. We have reproduced each trchnagir letter of the alphabet in the form of an elegant pendant in 18k Gold Pendant, which comes in white, yellow, or rose gold plating.

The bird-shaped letters are complemented with grapes and framed with grape and flower ornaments to give a more rich and more luxurious look to the composition by, at the same time, maintaining the overall simplicity and modern look.

You can choose any of the 39 letters of the Armenian alphabet as a pendant to correspond to the first letter of your name or to that of your beloved one. Letter pendants are tokens of self-integrity emphasizing the strength of your personality. Opting for trchnagir letters that only Gugoco offers, you not only make emphasize on the integrity of your personality but make a statement about your ties and communion with the ancient, rich tradition of the Armenian nation.