09 January 2016, 13:29
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Eternal Alphabet: Zh (žē) - Ժ (ժէ)

The numerical value of Ժ is 10. It is noteworthy that Ժ denotes the beginning of a decimal line, i.e. the values of the next nine letters successively increase by ten. In the alphabetic acrostic written by Mashtots, letter Ժ stands for the word Ժամանակ ([zhamanak] – time). And exactly letter Ժ was the one to convey the quatrain about the time and the God written by the Armenian poet Nerses Shnorhali (XII century): Lord, who encloses the time, The Creator of all that exists, He, who is immune to time, Innumerable are his days.

 By “statistics”, this is one of the most rarely used Armenian letters. The majority of the old patterns of letter Ժ in general are similar in their construction to the present-day Ժ. Exceptions are the variants with a “cap”, such as . Both groups coexisted for a long time, but after XII century the second group practically disappeared and made way for the one with simpler structure. Various opinions exist as to the origin of the graphic form of letter Ժ.

 

Supporters of one of the prevailing versions believe that the form of Ժ is derived from the preceding letter Թ. According to another version, Ժ originates in one of the Iranian scripts, since among all the probable prototypes of the Armenian alphabet only they had a sound similar to Ժ. 

See more at Aram Khachaturians "Armenian Alphabet" book

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