TRAVEL NEWS: The 400-year-old History of Zildjian Cymbals in Armenia and the United States

Among the most famous names in Armenian culture is that of Zildjian, the world famous cymbal makers. At nearly 400 years old, Zildjian is one of the oldest companies in the world.

Arvedis Zildjian I

Arvedis Zildjian I

Avedis I was an Armenian alchemist who discovered a secret process for treating alloys and applied it to the art of making cymbals. His products were of extraordinary clarity and sustain, so much so that Sultan Osman II of the Anatolian Empire acknowledged Avedis to be the founder of the craft of cymbal making. In appreciation, the Sultan gave Avedis 80 gold pieces and the family name ‘Zildjian,’ which means ‘cymbal smith’ in Armenian. Avedis began the industry in 1623, the details of whose main product remained secret for generations. It became family tradition that only the company’s heirs would know the manufacturing process.

The Zildjian Company

The Zildjian Company

More than 200 years later, his great grandson Avedis III immigrated to the United States. In 1927, Avedis received a letter from his uncle, Aram, telling him that it was now his turn to take over the ancient family art of cymbal making. Avedis convinced his uncle to move the company to the U.S.

During the Second World War, Zildjian made cymbals for the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps marching bands. They also got orders from the British Admiralty. This was a very important part of the company’s business, because copper and tin were allocated by the War Production Board. Without these orders, the War Production Board probably would have closed the plant down.

To read more about the Zildjian family story, click here.

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Editor’s Note: Original World offers cultural immersion tours to Armenia, including the upcoming tour The Caucasus: Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, which departs twice in 2014, May 15-June 4 and September 3-23.

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