provenance: Sir Malcolm MacGregor collection. Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian through Quaritch, on Sir Sir Malcolm MacGregor’s sale, Sotheby's, London, November 15th-18th, 1926 (lot 552).
description: The spiritual, cultural and political identity of the Armenian communities was established and ensured, over the centuries, by the Armenian Church. After the invention of the Armenian alphabet and the translation of the Bible in the fifth century, the cultural inheritance of the church, mainly with regard to the arts of the book, acquired its own cultural identity and was affected by Persian, Byzantine and Syrian influences.
Khodja Nazar, a wealthy Armenian belonging to the New Julfa community in Persia, commissioned this Bible in Constantinople (now Istanbul), one of the centres of the Armenian patriarchate. Information about Nazar and the scribe, Hakob, is included in the inscription at the end of the book, as was usual in Armenian manuscripts.
The double-page miniature illustrates the beginning of the Old Testament, the Book of Genesis. The six days of the creation of the world are represented on lateral medallions and on the central area, on a gilt background, the creation of Adam and Eve, the Temptation and the Expulsion from Paradise.