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Armenia: First Republic (1918-1921)

Last modified: 2021-09-24 by ivan sache
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[1918 flag]

Flag of Armenia, 1918-1921 - Image by António Martins, 8 September 2005

See also:

Flag of the First Republic of Armenia

The Republic of Armenia was proclaimed on 28 May 1918. In July, the Armenian Councils of Tbilisi and met in Yerevan, leaving the final approval of the state symbols to the Constituent Assembly. The philologist Stepan Malkhasyants (1857-1947) wrote a report, taking into account historical flags, which recommended the red, blue and orange colors. The final decision, however, appears more as the result of a random selection, since several representatives did not say anything or did not even care of the issue.
There were some practical objections to the use of the orange color, namely the difficulty to find pieces of orange fabric. Some recommended to use green instead, which was also an Armenian historical color. Hovhannes Kajaznuni (1868-1938), first Prime Minister of Armenia (1918-1919) defended the orange color on pure aesthetic considerations. Red and blue would represent the blood that gained freedom under the blue sky, and orange diligence and work required to build a new country. This interpretation of the colors was re-used, in a more elaborated manner, in the

Transient flag of Armenia - Image by António Martins, 25 May 2008

The transient red-blue-yellow flag is shown on a stamp (0.20 dram; SG 255) issued in 1992.

António Martins, 25 May 2008

Coat of arms of the First Republic of Armenia

[Coat of arms]         [Coat of arms]

Coat of arms of tyhe First Republic of Armeniatwo versions - Images by Luc Baronian, 1 May 2005

The arms of the first Republic of Armenia were essentially the same as the current arms, but the artistic rendering was very different.
The black and white version of the arms shown above comes from the Historical Atlas of Armenia (Hayastani patmakan atlas) published in New York by the Armenian National Education Committee (1987). Notice that the items under the shield are placed differently than on the current version, that the shield is different, and that the eagle and lion have their tongues out and look more menacing.
The colored version of the arms shown above comes from a map entitled "Flags, Coats of Arms and Monuments of Armenia". Notice that the emblems on the shield are more colorful than on the current version, that the quarters' colors are reverted and that the eagle is silver, not golden. eagle. There is, or once was, an Armenian-American Silver Eagle Award, so it seems that the color here is not random.

Luc Baronian, 1 May 2005

Martiros Saryan's flag proposals

[Flag]         [Flag]         [Flag]

Martiros Saryan's flag proposals - Imageq by Ivan Sache, 2 May 2021

Martiros Saryan (1880-1972) is one of the greatest painters of the 20th century, an outstanding colorist. "Color is a genuine miracle", the painter exclaimed. "In combination with sunlight, it expresses the spirit of object's shape and the essence of universal existence". Saryan's paintings, created in bright, saturated colors represent a new aesthetic perception enable us to understand that art is not only an imitation of reality, but it is the use of free imagination and abstraction. At the same time, Saryan exploits simple natural shapes in his paintings, always believing nature to be his main mentor.
In the beginning of the 1910's, Saryan was a bold innovator, who brilliantly united artistic traditions of the East with new trends of the twentieth century European painting. The artist was recognized in Russia, where some of his paintings were purchased by the famous Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, others were exhibited in Europe.
In 1921, Saryan settled in Armenia, to participate in its spiritual rebirth. The ideology of the Soviet country where he dwelt had created certain difficulties for the artist’s free creative evolution. But the artist remained loyal to the principles of his own style. The earlier elaborated artistic techniques and ways of expression were enriched with new content. As a founder of the modern Armenian school of painting, Saryan asserted in his art the timeless and humanistic values of lofty art.
[M. Saryan House-Museum]

Martiros Saryan, then living in New Nakhichevan, an Armenian borough of Rostov-on-Don in Russia, sent on 31 July 1919 a letter, written in Russian, to Alexander Khatisian (1874-1945), the second Prime Minister of Armenia (1919-1920). This letter, which includes watercolor drawing of the flag proposals, was published only in 2002, as part of the artists' correspondence, 1908-192&, by his granddaughter, Ruzan Saryan, which explains that the proposals fell into oblivion.
In the letter, Saryan explains that he was visited one month earlier by Martiros Harutyunyan, a member of the Armenian Parliament, who explained that the blue-red-yellow flag had been chosen, symbolizing the rainbow. Enthusiastic, the painter proposed to improve the flag, adding to the three basic colors of the rainbow (red, yellow and blue) its three complementary colors (orange, green and purple), arranged from top to bottom: red - orange - yellow - green - blue - purple. Saryan argues that this complete rainbow design is exactly what the Armenian flag should look like. There are quite a few tricolor flags, in general; moreover, the Don Army already uses a blue-yellow-red flag. Armenians, as an Eastern people, have a lot of colors; their flag should reveal the wonderful and eternally beautiful rainbow.
Never used, the proposals were, seemingly, re-discovered and published in 2009 by Hovhannissian Petros (The design of the national flag of the First Republic of Armenia by Martiros Sarian) in a non-identified printed support.

Jason Saber & Ivan Sache, 2 May 2021