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Stamps of Approval. Understanding what Armenia values most
Stamps of Approval. Understanding what Armenia values most

Stamps of Approval

Understanding what Armenia values most  


Postage stamps are among the most long-lived and popular collectibles for hobbyists and professionals alike. They instantly transport us to far-off lands and fascinating cultures, creating that immediate first impression of a country and its people. These tiny national ambassadors have a big story to tell, offering insights into how a nation chooses to portray itself to the world, what it cherishes, and what special assets it brings to world civilization. Additionally, postage stamps, unlike coins and bank-notes, are updated annually, reflecting shifting priorities within the society or on the state’s national agenda. 

Armenia’s postal history spans a century. Initially, Czarist Russian postmarks and stamps were circulating in the region between 1858 and late 1910s. In 1919, artist Arshak Fetvadjian designed the first Armenia-themed stamps, depicting a woman with a spindle, Mount Ararat, and the eagle, Armenia’s national bird. By the time these stamps were printed in France, the First Republic of Armenia was dissolved, and they were never put into circulation, yet turning those samples into a real treasure for philatelists. In 2016, Fetvadjian was paid tribute with a stamp issue recognizing his 150th anniversary. 

Later, a number of Armenia-themed stamps were circulating in Soviet Armenia, conforming with state ideology. Still, it was after Independence that Armenia gained control over postage stamp themes and redefined its national character. Over three decades, a multitude of national stamps have been issued to highlight Armenia’s history, religion, culture, natural beauty, and rich heritage.

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The first Armenia-themed stamps designed by Arshak Fetvadjian, Issued: 1919.

The first Armenia-themed stamps designed by Arshak Fetvadjian, Issued: 1919.
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The first Armenia-themed stamps designed by Arshak Fetvadjian, Issued: 1919. Photo Credit / Hay Post

Since 2008, Hay Post, the national postal operator, has held exclusive rights to issue stamps for Armenia, ending private company releases. Speaking of themes, Shushan Aleksanyan, the head of the Hay Post Philately Department, notes that nearly 95% are national. The remaining themes encompass international trends like sports, transportation, flora and fauna. She adds, “Nonetheless, we ‘nationalize’ these trends at any possible chance, too.” For instance, the recent Armenia-Romania joint issue features Ana Aslan, a renowned Romanian doctor of Armenian descent.

Releasing joint issues is a standard international practice that enables two national postal services to collaborate, uniting philatelists from both countries. In such cases, it is essential to seek particular recommendations and undergo a review by the RA Ministry of Foreign Affairs to determine the diplomatic relevance of the cooperation.

As another international trend, sports hold a special place in Armenia’s annual planning. Besides featuring essential occasions like the Olympic Games or other competitions, Armenia highlights its national sports figures, such as Chess Grand Master Tigran Petrosian, nicknamed Iron Tigran for his nearly impenetrable defensive playing style.

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Left: Armenian Sports series, Tigran Petrosian,the 9th World Chess Champion, issued to commemorate his 75th birth anniversary, Issued: 2005. Right: Armenian Cartoons series, Vin the Penguin, Issued: 2022. Photo Credit / Hay Post

Left: Armenian Sports series, Tigran Petrosian,the 9th World Chess Champion, issued to commemorate his 75th birth anniversary, Issued: 2005. Right: Armenian Cartoons series, Vin the Penguin, Issued: 2022. Photo Credit / Hay Post
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Left: Armenian Sports series, Tigran Petrosian,the 9th World Chess Champion, issued to commemorate his 75th birth anniversary, Issued: 2005. Right: Armenian Cartoons series, Vin the Penguin, Issued: 2022. Photo Credit / Hay Post

In addition, to make Armenian treasures accessible to the world, Armenia partakes in several stamp competitions, the most notable of which is Post Europa, recognized by the UN. The Post nominates annual themes, reviews applications, and announces winners by voting results of fifty-five member states. Armenia joined Post Europa in 2001 and won the first and second places in 2019 and 2020.

These tiny icons also serve as a meaningful way to represent national causes, such as, in the past two years, a series of stamps called Cultural Crime were released, depicting the bombardment of Ghazanchetsots Cathedral of Shushi and the Saint John the Baptist Church (Kanach Zham), as well as the destruction of cross-stones of Nakhijevan by Azerbaijan. Along with Armenian brandy and other souvenirs, many of these issues are gifted to visiting heads of state on diplomatic missions.

“Promoting national causes is important, but it’s equally crucial that they adhere to international standards to avoid endorsing violence or violating human rights, as was the case with Azerbaijan in 2020. Shortly after the pandemic, they presented a draft design of a stamp with an illustration of an expert in disinfection, positioned above a map of Azerbaijan, appearing to ‘disinfect’ the Nagorno-Karabakh region. In response, Armenia appealed to the International Postal Committee, successfully preventing the stamp’s release symbolizing ethnic cleansing,” recalls Aleksanyan.

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Cultural Crime series, Bombing of Ghazanchetsots Holy Savior Cathedral of Shushi, Issued: 2021. Photo Credit / Hay Post

Cultural Crime series, Bombing of Ghazanchetsots Holy Savior Cathedral of Shushi, Issued: 2021. Photo Credit / Hay Post
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Cultural Crime series, Bombing of Ghazanchetsots Holy Savior Cathedral of Shushi, Issued: 2021. Photo Credit / Hay Post

The national postal operator functions under the Ministry of High Tech Industry (MHTI) of the Republic of Armenia. In planning for new stamps, MHTI invites cultural institutions and other state ministries to identify significant centennials and anniversaries related to their fields.

The ultimate decision lies with Armenia’s Postage Stamp Board, which carefully assesses a multitude of suggestions, considering international and local standards. Subsequently, MHTI approves one of the designs created by Hay Post’s talented designers, which are then printed in secure printing houses in Canada and France to create the perforations and minimize the risk of fraud. After each printing cycle, Hay Post obtains a destruction certificate to ensure the files are deleted.

In addition, stamps are released in limited quantities, with no plans for reprinting. Most are put into circulation, while a small portion is reserved for philatelists. This limited availability gradually drives up the value of stamps. The scarcer they become, the higher their price soars. Typically, when only a few stamps remain, they are auctioned off.

Interestingly, stamps with defects are often much sought after. Take, for instance, the case of the Karen Demirchian and Vazgen Sargsyan name stamps. A limited batch featured their names printed incorrectly and in reverse, making philatelists eager to seek them out.

Promoting national causes is important, but it’s equally crucial that they adhere to international standards to avoid endorsing violence or violating human rights, as was the case with Azerbaijan in 2020.

Despite the positive developments, with advancements in technology and communication, the stamp industry needs to work on staying up-to-date and not be perceived as a traditional relic.

From a collector’s perspective, Aleksanyan emphasizes the importance of “rejuvenating” philately in Armenia, especially in light of the 300 philatelists in the country who mostly are in their 60s. To achieve this goal, another international trend called Children’s Philately was introduced to Armenia several years ago. It features themes that resonate with Armenian children, such as Armenian cartoon characters. They are also working on a kid’s book about the history and evolution of stamps. Aleksanyan believes that instilling an interest in philately in children fosters other essential values, such as discipline and attentiveness, as only an organized person can collect stamps and complete their collection.

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Left to right: Arshak Fetvadjian and his Woman Playing the Mandolin painting, Issued: 2016. Photo Credit / Hay Post

Left to right: Arshak Fetvadjian and his Woman Playing the Mandolin painting, Issued: 2016. Photo Credit / Hay Post
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Left to right: Arshak Fetvadjian and his Woman Playing the Mandolin painting, Issued: 2016. Photo Credit / Hay Post

Hay Post has also embraced modernity by incorporating Augmented Reality (AR) solutions into some stamps, like the music-themed ones featuring various Armenian composers. The holder can listen to the composer’s music when the stamp is scanned with a smartphone using the ARLOOPA application.

In addition to AR solutions, Hay Post is exploring the idea of releasing crypto stamps—a pioneering concept that blends traditional postage stamps with blockchain technology. Only a few states have ventured into the world of crypto stamps, and Armenia is eager to join their ranks.

 

Armenia’s Story in Stamps

Armenia’s millennia-old history, culture, and cherished traditions nurture a deeply rooted identity in its people. Within this small, landlocked country, these identity markers are omnipresent, seen in its architecture, street names, and subjects taught in schools.

Among these symbols, Armenian stamps offer a fascinating representation of Armenian identity, providing insights into what Armenia holds dear as a sovereign state.

Traditional Armenia

Armenian traditions celebrate resilience, unity, and a profound connection to the past, keeping the spirit of Armenia alive for generations to come. Stamps representing traditional Armenian folk culture and customs are widespread, depicting crafts, costumes, cuisine, and products unique to Armenia. 

Among them, the Armenian national costume, Taraz, is a distinct traditional artifact, which has evolved over time by factors of history, geography, regional climate, and social stratifications. Over a dozen Tarazes representing historical and modern-day Armenia provinces have been portrayed so far, including that of Yerevan, Syunik, Vaspurakan, Sassoun, Taron, Javakhk, and Artsakh. From the vast tapestry of Armenian national festivals, where wearing those colorful Tarazes was part of the celebration, the Feast of the Ascension (Hambardzman Ton) and Trndez have been celebrated through stamp releases, as well. 

In 2018, Komitas’s Hov Arek music for dance was featured, honoring both Armenian dance culture and the renowned musicologist and vardapet responsible for capturing the essence of Armenian folk music through his travels to Armenian villages before the Genocide.

Armenia’s culinary heritage stamp series depicts such authentic national dishes as Pasouts Tolma, Gata, Ghapama, Telbats Kubati, and Harissa. The national bread Lavash earned a stamp under the title UNESCO’s Representative: List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Emphasis is also placed on national crafts like coppersmithing, pottery, and woodcarving. In 2017, the 19th-century Armenian Ceramics of Kutahya in Western Turkey was acknowledged–a hub for the Ottoman ceramics industry dominated by Armenian craftsmen. Rug making also holds special significance, as shown on an Armenian Dragon Carpet stamp. Though its motif is indigenous to the Artsakh and Syunik regions, Azerbaijan illegitimately appropriated it and submitted it to the UNESCO World Heritage Center. Khndzoresk, a subgroup of Dragon Carpets identified as Armenian by an ornamental design symbolizing eternity, was honored in 2022.

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1. Armenian Carpets series, a part of a pattern used in Khndzoresk carpets, Issued: 2023.  2. Armenian Folk Costumes series, Yerevan Taraz, Issued: 2014 3. The 19th-century Armenian Ceramics of Kutahya, Issued: 2017 4. Armenian Cuisine series, Pasouts Tolma, Issued: 2023 5. Komitas’s Hov Arek music for dance, Issued: 2018. Photo Credit / Hay Post

1. Armenian Carpets series, a part of a pattern used in Khndzoresk carpets, Issued: 2023. 2. Armenian Folk Costumes series, Yerevan Taraz, Issued: 2014 3. The 19th-century Armenian Ceramics of Kutahya, Issued: 2017 4. Armenian Cuisine series, Pasouts Tolma, Issued: 2023 5. Komitas’s Hov Arek music for dance, Issued: 2018. Photo Credit / Hay Post
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1. Armenian Carpets series, a part of a pattern used in Khndzoresk carpets, Issued: 2023. 2. Armenian Folk Costumes series, Yerevan Taraz, Issued: 2014 3. The 19th-century Armenian Ceramics of Kutahya, Issued: 2017 4. Armenian Cuisine series, Pasouts Tolma, Issued: 2023 5. Komitas’s Hov Arek music for dance, Issued: 2018. Photo Credit / Hay Post

Historical Armenia

Armenian stamps on historical subjects range from archaeological discoveries like Dragon Stones and the oldest shoe found on Armenian territory to modern milestones symbolizing statehood, including Armenian independence, the establishment of the Armenian Army, the national currency called Dram, and the Armenian tri-color flag, among others.

Ancient and medieval periods are acknowledged through the Armenian Kingdoms of Van, Ararat, and Cilicia, with Armenia’s historical capitals, including Yerevan’s 2,800-year-old history. The glorious chapters of Armenian history frequently revisit moments of heroism, spanning from the valiant struggles of liberation movements like the May Heroic Battles and the Artsakh Liberation Movement to the significant contributions of over half a million Armenians during the Great Patriotic War (1941-45).

The fact that Armenia is the world’s first Christian nation couldn’t slip through the cracks. The stamp called Pope Francis: Visit to the First Christian Nation underscores this legacy in addition to ones with artifacts and treasures of Etchmiadzin, such as the Reliquary-arm of St. Thaddeus, issued for the 1700th anniversary of Christian Armenia. Armenian architectural treasures, churches, and centuries-old monasteries are a meaningful addition to this series. Most recently featured prominent religious and educational centers include 4th-century Amaras and 13th-century Gandzasar of Artsakh, tragically ceded to Azerbaijan in 2023 following a nine-month inhumane blockade of Artsakh and its people. 

The atrocities of the Ottoman Empire have also been condemned on stamps highlighting heroic individuals of Armenian and foreign origin who helped save lives during the Armenian Genocide, including figures like Karen Jeppe, the Danish mother of Armenian orphans. Some also depict monuments in the U.S., Paris, and Uruguay erected in tribute to Genocide victims.

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1. 30th anniversary of Independence of the Third Republic of Armenia, Issued: 2021. 2. Pope Francis: Visit to the First Christian Nation, Issued: 2016. 3. Danish missionary Maria Jacobsen, Issued: 2014. 4. Amaras Monastery, IV century A.D., Machkalashen Village, Artsakh, Issued: 2021. 5. Van Kingdom, figurine decoration of a throne, VIII-VII cc. B.C., Issued: 2016. 6. Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, UNESCO World Heritage, Issued: 2009. Photo Credit / Hay Post

1. 30th anniversary of Independence of the Third Republic of Armenia, Issued: 2021. 2. Pope Francis: Visit to the First Christian Nation, Issued: 2016. 3. Danish missionary Maria Jacobsen, Issued: 2014. 4. Amaras Monastery, IV century A.D., Machkalashen Village, Artsakh, Issued: 2021. 5. Van Kingdom, figurine decoration of a throne, VIII-VII cc. B.C., Issued: 2016. 6. Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, UNESCO World Heritage, Issued: 2009. Photo Credit / Hay Post
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1. 30th anniversary of Independence of the Third Republic of Armenia, Issued: 2021. 2. Pope Francis: Visit to the First Christian Nation, Issued: 2016. 3. Danish missionary Maria Jacobsen, Issued: 2014. 4. Amaras Monastery, IV century A.D., Machkalashen Village, Artsakh, Issued: 2021. 5. Van Kingdom, figurine decoration of a throne, VIII-VII cc. B.C., Issued: 2016. 6. Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, UNESCO World Heritage, Issued: 2009. Photo Credit / Hay Post

Cinematic Armenia

In 2023, Armenia celebrated the centennial of Armenian cinematography. On this occasion, in 2022-23, two Soviet Armenian movies were featured: Saroyan Brothers and A Bride from the North. Legendary filmmakers Sergey Parajanov, Hrachya Nersisyan, Henri Veneuil, Hamo Beknazaryan, and American Armenian Film Director Rouben Mamoulian have received the nation’s stamp of approval.

Several theatrical actors were featured, including Hrachya Ghaplanyan and Vahram Papazian. Among them, “King of Laughter” Karp Khachvankian, a renowned Armenian actor and director, People’s Artist of Armenia, was best known for his comic roles, like Knyaz in Taxi, Taxi.

The paradoxical artist known as “the clown with sad eyes,” Leonid Yengibaryan, revolutionized clowning by incorporating lyrical elements that encouraged audiences to think rather than merely laugh. The beloved People’s Artist of Armenia was paid tribute with a stamp issued in 2010.

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1. Soviet Armenian  clown and actor Leonid Yengibaryan, Issued: 2010 2. “King of Laughter,” Karp Khachvankian, Issued: 2023 3. Armenian Films series, A Bride from the North, Issued: 2022 4. American Armenian Film Director Rouben Mamoulian, Issued: 2022. Photo Credit / Hay Post

1. Soviet Armenian clown and actor Leonid Yengibaryan, Issued: 2010 2. “King of Laughter,” Karp Khachvankian, Issued: 2023 3. Armenian Films series, A Bride from the North, Issued: 2022 4. American Armenian Film Director Rouben Mamoulian, Issued: 2022. Photo Credit / Hay Post
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1. Soviet Armenian clown and actor Leonid Yengibaryan, Issued: 2010 2. “King of Laughter,” Karp Khachvankian, Issued: 2023 3. Armenian Films series, A Bride from the North, Issued: 2022 4. American Armenian Film Director Rouben Mamoulian, Issued: 2022. Photo Credit / Hay Post

Natural Armenia

Armenia also aligns with international trends by issuing stamps that feature its natural beauty and indigenous wonders, including the plants, flowers, birds, and animals listed in the Red Book of Armenia, along with national parks and reserves. Flora and fauna was the theme for the Europa Stamp Competition 2019, where Armenia won first place, featuring the national bird Barn Swallow. Another stamp won second place in 2020, recognizing Armenia’s second-largest city of Gyumri as an ancient postal route.

Additionally, the Armenian apricot with its nine variations, and the Armenian Voskehat grape, which thrives in the Ararat Plain and nearby areas and is used for table wines, champagne, and cognac, were honored as national symbols. Beer, wine, and brandy products are also celebrated, and a special stamp was released to pay tribute to Margar Sedrakyan, a pioneering figure in Armenia’s brandy production industry.

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1. Gyumri as an ancient postal route, Issued: 2020 2. Europa Stamp Competition 2019 winner, national bird Barn Swallow, Issued: 2019 3. Brandy production in Armenia, Issued: 2013. Photo Credit / Hay Post

1. Gyumri as an ancient postal route, Issued: 2020 2. Europa Stamp Competition 2019 winner, national bird Barn Swallow, Issued: 2019 3. Brandy production in Armenia, Issued: 2013. Photo Credit / Hay Post
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1. Gyumri as an ancient postal route, Issued: 2020 2. Europa Stamp Competition 2019 winner, national bird Barn Swallow, Issued: 2019 3. Brandy production in Armenia, Issued: 2013. Photo Credit / Hay Post

Literary Armenia

The Armenian language, with its history dating back to the 5th century, is a cornerstone of Armenian culture and identity. From ancient medieval manuscripts to modern works, Armenia has given birth to renowned poets and writers who have made significant contributions to national literature.

The Armenian language has been celebrated through Armenian Alphabet definitive issues, as well as with stamps featuring the 1600th anniversary of the Armenian writing system in 2005.

Azdarar, the first Armenian periodical founded in Madras, India, in 1794, was also honored. The periodical is recognized as India’s first non-English language publication. In addition, the 350th anniversary of the first Armenian-language printed Bible published by Voskan Yerevantsi in Amsterdam in 1668 was featured. The latter was one of the first Armenian book publishers, and this Bible is considered one of the finest examples of ancient Armenian printing.

Numerous stamp issues widely cover Armenian literature of the modern period. Most notable are celebrated authors whose works are part of school curricula. These include Hovhannes Tumanyan, Yeghishe Charents, Vahan Teryan, Perch Proshyan, Aleksandr Shirvanzade, Atabek Khnkoyan, among others.

Armenian contemporary literature is well informed with themes like Hamidian Massacres, Armenian Genocide, and ideologies and movements for liberation. Featured figures in this literary tradition include Mikayel Nalbandyan, Siamanto (Atom Yarjanian), and Rouben Sevak. Realist writer Arshag Chobanian, who openly addressed issues of the Armenian Genocide in French newspapers due to his connection with French intellectuals, was paid tribute on his 150th anniversary in 2022.

Social and political issues were approached differently by Yervand Odyan, the first literary figure portrayed on a stamp in 1992. A survivor of the Armenian Genocide himself, he employed his distinctive satirical style to critique the wrongdoings of his era. Odyan’s historical detective novels, including Abdul Hamid and Sherlock Holmes, hold a unique position in Armenian fiction.

Srpouhi Dussap, the first Armenian female novelist and feminist writer, addressed women’s issues in the late 19th century. She wrote essays about women’s education, employment, and challenges women faced, like financial dependency and lack of freedom. She was honored for her 175th anniversary.

Other renowned Armenian writers featured for various anniversaries included historical novelists Mouratsan, Raffi, and Tserents; French-Armenian poet and communist activist Missak Manouchian; Raphael Patkanian, a leading figure in patriotic themes; Vakhtang Ananyan, known for his hunting stories and vivid portrayals of Armenia’s natural beauty; and the world famous American Armenian writer William Saroyan.

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1. William Saroyan, Issued: 2008 2. Srpouhi Dussap, Issued: 2016  3. Hovhannes Tumanyan, Issued: 2019  4. Vahan Teryan, Issued: 2011. Photo Credit / Hay Post

1. William Saroyan, Issued: 2008 2. Srpouhi Dussap, Issued: 2016 3. Hovhannes Tumanyan, Issued: 2019 4. Vahan Teryan, Issued: 2011. Photo Credit / Hay Post
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1. William Saroyan, Issued: 2008 2. Srpouhi Dussap, Issued: 2016 3. Hovhannes Tumanyan, Issued: 2019 4. Vahan Teryan, Issued: 2011. Photo Credit / Hay Post

Scientific Armenia

Armenia’s scientific achievements have made significant contributions to various fields. One notable area of excellence is in the realm of astrophysics and astronomy. The country is home to the Byurakan Observatory, where renowned scientists like Viktor Hambardzumyan (celebrated for his 100th anniversary) conducted groundbreaking research on the structure and evolution of galaxies. Several astrophysicists were honored through stamp issues, including Member of the International Academy of Astronautics, Sergey Hambardzumyan; Lyudvik Mirzoyan, who, together with Viktor Hambardzumyan played a crucial role in the establishment and expansion of Byurakan Observatory; and Benjamin Markarian who discovered the common motion of a stretch of galaxies, which was ultimately named after him as Markarian Chain

Scientific facilities and events were also portrayed to emphasize their significance for Armenia, among them space observatories Orion 1 and Orion 2, which played a significant role in cosmic ray research. These unique observatories were developed by astronomer and a pioneer of space astronomy, Grigor Gyurzadyan (featured in 2022), and were operating from the slope of the four-peaked Mount Aragats of Armenia.

Additionally, in 2007, the year of solar physics was declared, commemorating the 50th anniversary of geophysics. Physicists worldwide established international networks with new measuring devices. Armenia played an active role in the year’s events by its Sevan network of particle recording devices, which was honored by a stamp issued in the same year.

Astrophysics is one of many fields where Armenians have registered considerable success. Other disciplines include biology, neurology, mathematics, and biochemistry, to name a few. The most recent addition to this matter is devoted to biologist, neuroscientist, and Nobel Prize Laureate Ardem Patapoutian.

Biochemistry was portrayed in the light of unique medications. About 30 new drugs have been created and submitted to clinical trials at the Academician A.L. Mnjoyan Research Institute, most of which are widely used in practical medicine nowadays.

Mathematician Artashes Shahinian, the founder of the Armenian Research Mathematical School, and biochemist Norair Sisakian, who chaired UNESCO’s 13th session, were also paid tribute on their respective anniversaries. 

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1. Nobel Prize Laureate Ardem Patapoutian, Issued: 2022 2. Starmus: 6th International Festival in Yerevan, Issued: 2022 3. Soviet Armenian astrophysicist Viktor Hambardzumyan, Issued: 2008. Photo Credit / Hay Post

1. Nobel Prize Laureate Ardem Patapoutian, Issued: 2022 2. Starmus: 6th International Festival in Yerevan, Issued: 2022 3. Soviet Armenian astrophysicist Viktor Hambardzumyan, Issued: 2008. Photo Credit / Hay Post
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1. Nobel Prize Laureate Ardem Patapoutian, Issued: 2022 2. Starmus: 6th International Festival in Yerevan, Issued: 2022 3. Soviet Armenian astrophysicist Viktor Hambardzumyan, Issued: 2008. Photo Credit / Hay Post

Musical Armenia

Armenian music legends like Komitas, Aram Khachaturian, Alexander Spendiaryan, and Arno Babajanyan have appeared on stamps multiple times. Gusan Sheram and Gusan Havasi, known for their vast collection of pastoral poems, quatrains, and seasonal songs, have also been honored.Famous featured conductors and musicians include Edward Mirzoyan, Lazar Saryan, Alexander Arutunian, among others.

Soviet Armenian opera singer Tatevik Sazandaryan, widely known for her role as Almast in Alexander Spendiaryan’s namesake opera, and Lusine Zakaryan, acclaimed for singing Sharakans in the Holy See of Etchmiadzin’s choir, were both paid tribute. Hay Post did not let national instruments slide: dhol, duduk, lyra, and kamancha have been depicted several times since 2008.

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1. Armenian soprano Lusine Zakaryan, Issued: 2012 2. Komitas Vardapet, Issued: 2019 3. Soviet Armenian composer and pianist Arno Babajanyan, Issued: 2021. Photo Credit / Hay Post

1. Armenian soprano Lusine Zakaryan, Issued: 2012 2. Komitas Vardapet, Issued: 2019 3. Soviet Armenian composer and pianist Arno Babajanyan, Issued: 2021. Photo Credit / Hay Post
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1. Armenian soprano Lusine Zakaryan, Issued: 2012 2. Komitas Vardapet, Issued: 2019 3. Soviet Armenian composer and pianist Arno Babajanyan, Issued: 2021. Photo Credit / Hay Post

Artistic Armenia

Armenian painting culture has a storied history that dates back centuries, with influences ranging from Byzantine and Persian styles to Russian and European movements. In modern times, Armenian painters have embraced a wide range of styles and themes, contributing to the global art scene while preserving the rich artistic traditions that have defined Armenian painting culture for generations.

Stamps celebrate Armenian artistic treasures from the National Gallery of Armenia, showcasing the works of renowned artists like Hovhannes Ayvazovski, Arshile Gorky, and Yervand Kochar, alongside the founding and prominent figures of 19th-20th century Armenian painting and sculpture.

The inaugural art stamp showcases Vardges Surenyants’s Salome painting. Though a biblical figure, Surenyants’s Salome is inspired by Oscar Wilde’s namesake novel, where Salome is depicted in stark contrast to her biblical portrayal. A namesake sculpture by Hakob Gyurjyan was featured on a stamp commemorating his legacy of over 300 sculptures, including those of Vahan Teryan and Martiros Saryan.

The Raphael of Tiflis, artist Hakob Hovhannisyan, known for illuminating and renovating churches in Tbilisi, and Yeghishe Tadevossian, a master of Armenian landscape and portrait painting and the artist behind Komitas’s most famous portrait, were also celebrated. Artists who often incorporated Armenian themes in their works are Edgar Chahine and Hovsep Pushman. While Chahine received gold medals for his works, many were tragically lost in a studio fire in 1926, and more were destroyed in a flood later. In his words he “studied the streets.” In 2002, his famous painting Lily was featured to honor his legacy.

Pushman’s works, inspired by Armenian manuscripts, amulets, and instant burners, are now displayed at the National Gallery of Armenia, New York’s Metropolitan Museum, and Paris’s Petit Palais.

Among the lesser-known artists featured were Lavinia Bazhbeuk-Melikyan, often referred to as the Armenian Frida Kahlo, and her father, Alexander Bazhbeuk-Melikyan, a Soviet Armenian artist, graphic designer, and sculptor. Lavinia is known for her psychologically realistic portraits, which depict the spirit of working women in Armenia.

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1. Hovhannes Ayvazovski, Issued: 2017 2. Ayvazovski’s The Ninth Wave, Issued: 2017 3. Lavinia Bazhbeuk-Melikyan, Self portrait with Zhilinskaya, Issued: 2022 4.  Arshile Gorky, Issued: 2020  5. Vardges Surenyants’ Salome, Issued: 2021. Photo Credit / Hay Post

1. Hovhannes Ayvazovski, Issued: 2017 2. Ayvazovski’s The Ninth Wave, Issued: 2017 3. Lavinia Bazhbeuk-Melikyan, Self portrait with Zhilinskaya, Issued: 2022 4. Arshile Gorky, Issued: 2020 5. Vardges Surenyants’ Salome, Issued: 2021. Photo Credit / Hay Post
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1. Hovhannes Ayvazovski, Issued: 2017 2. Ayvazovski’s The Ninth Wave, Issued: 2017 3. Lavinia Bazhbeuk-Melikyan, Self portrait with Zhilinskaya, Issued: 2022 4. Arshile Gorky, Issued: 2020 5. Vardges Surenyants’ Salome, Issued: 2021. Photo Credit / Hay Post

Originally published in the June 2024 ​issue of AGBU Magazine. end character

About the AGBU Magazine

AGBU Magazine is one of the most widely circulated English language Armenian magazines in the world, available in print and digital format. Each issue delivers insights and perspective on subjects and themes relating to the Armenian world, accompanied by original photography, exclusive high-profile interviews, fun facts and more.