Mesrop Davtian TAGHIADIAN (also Taghiadiants, Armenian: Մեսրոպ Դաւթեան Թաղիադեան, 1803 – 1858).
Վէպ Վարսենկան սկայուհւոյ աղուանից
[Vep varsenkan Skayuhuoi Aghuanits also Vēp Varsenkan skayuhwoy ałuanic / A Novel of Varsenik the Albanian Giantess]
Calcutta: տպ. Արարատյան ընկերության [Ararat Society Press] 1847.
The Armenian press in India started in Madras in 1772 and later continued in Calcutta. It produced almost 200 books and pamphlets and 13 periodicals in 12 different presses.
The first Calcutta press was founded by coincidence in 1790 in St. Nazareth Church under the management of Rev. Hovsep Stepanosian, after Armenian types and a printing equipment were found in a British shop in the city. The press was only active for 8 years.
Our novel was printed and published by a short lived press Ararat Society (also Araratian Association), which was only active between 1845-1848. The central figure of the press was Mesrop Taghiatiants, also the author of this text and was possibly the most active Armenian in the field of writing, publishing and translating in Calcutta in the mid 19th century.
Taghiatiants is regarded as one of the first Armenian fiction writers.
Taghiatiants was born in Yerevan and came to Calcutta as a substitute teacher in 1823. He returned to his native country eight years later, but came back to India in 1839. He was actively writing, translating and publishing books, pamphlets and newspapers. The Araratian Association was founded by Taghiatiants together with a merchant Manoug Zohrapian and four other partners. After Zohrapian’s death in 1847 the press was forced to close for lack of funds. Besides the publishing activity the Araratian Association was also active in encouraging meetings, discussions and reading (Ghougassian 2012; Maulik 2020).
All the books printed by the Armenian presses in India are exceedingly rare. They were only issued in smaller numbers to be distributed among the local community. We could only trace two examples of this book, housed at the British Library and the Armenian Institute in London.
The scan of the book is available under the following link: “Վէպ Վարսենկան սկայուհւոյ աղուանից [Vep varsenkan Skayuhuoi Aghuanits], 1847” | Endangered Archives Programme (bl.uk)
References: References: OCLC 1265048510. Cf.: Vazken Ghougassian, The Printing Enterprise of Armenians in India, 2012, UCLA_ThePrintingEnterprizeArmeniansInIndia.pdf); Debabrata Maulik, The Forgotten Church: Remembering Armenians of Saidabad, 2020.