The Largest Manuscript – “Homiliarium of Mush”

The Largest Manuscript - “Homiliarium of Mush”The largest ancient handwritten book is the Armenian “Homiliarium of Mush” kept at Institute of Ancient Manuscripts Matenadaran in Yerevan, Armenia. The manuscript weighs around 32 kilograms (70.5 lbs., without the cover).

It is a copy rewritten by Vardan Karnetsi in the Monastery of Surb Karapet of Mush in 1200-1202. For the production of the parchment for 607 pages, the skin of nearly 600 calves was necessary.

It is known that the owner of the manuscript was killed and the book was “captured” by Seljuk-Turks in 1204. After that, Armenians have visited numerous settlements to collect money (4 thousand coins or around 20 kilograms (44.1 lbs.) of silver) to redeem the manuscript.

It took a lot of their effort to find the book and return it to the monastery in Mush, where it would be carefully stored and, if necessary, hidden for seven centuries.

During World War I, two Armenian refugees took the book to save it from the Turks. At first, they were carrying the manuscript by turns. After they got exhausted, they separated the book in half. One of the halves was wrapped in a cloth and buried in a churchyard in Erzurum.

The refugees barely managed to bring the other half to Etchmiadzin. After some time, the buried half was found and passed to Matenadaran by a Polish officer of the Russian army.


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