Armenian dram sign

The Armenian dram sign (֏, image: ; Armenian: Դրամ; code: AMD) is the currency sign of the Armenian dram. In Unicode, it is encoded at .

Armenian dram sign
CurrencyArmenian dram

After its proclamation of independence, Armenia put into circulation its own national currency, the Armenian dram, and the need for a monetary sign became immediately apparent. The shape chosen is a slightly modified version of one of the capital letters of the Armenian alphabet.


Heritage of Mashtots

There is a strong belief that the shape of dram sign (symbol) is a direct projection of the Armenian alphabet – the work of Mesrop Mashtots. It is not hard to notice the clean-cut geometry of the Armenian letters, so did the author of the sign when studied the alphabet. Later he became a proponent for the hypothesis,[1] which states that the prototype of the Armenian alphabet is a variety of combinations of the resembling curves and the horizontal elements. Subsequently, these horizontal elements played a key role in the sign development.

Date of creation

The first known usage of the sign was on 7 September 1995, when it was used in handwritten notes for the cash flow of a start-up company. Although a number of artists and businessmen developed and offered alternate designs for it, the original form has remained in use. It is now part of the Armenian standard for national characters and symbols and in Armenian computer fonts.


The objective of the sign is to symbolize the Armenian national currency and come in handy wherever a graphical symbol for the currency is in demand, for instance in: financial documents, price-lists and tags, currency exchange displays, computer fonts, correspondence, etc.

At the time of the sign's development were outlined the definite fundamental criteria for it, namely the sign has:

  • to denote the Armenian National Currency by graphical means;
  • to recall the outlines of Armenian letters;
  • to include the elements typical for the foreign monetary symbols;
  • to be easily reproduced with a few strokes;
  • to be enough plain for its identification and memorizing.

Present to Republic

In 2001 the author took the opportunity to give the sign to the Republic of Armenia in connection with the celebration of the 1700th anniversary of the proclamation of Christianity as Armenia's state religion. The proposal for the sign was mailed to the then President of Armenia, Mr. R. Kocharyan. At the same time congratulations on the anniversary, together with a copy of the proposal, were sent to the Catholicos of all Armenians, Garegin II.

CBA contest

From the office of the President the proposal has been forwarded to the Central Bank of Armenia, which announced the contest, entertained the offer among the other proposals and approved it together with the other similar design. CBA Panel Ordinance declared to "accept the designs of dram symbol presented by K. Komendaryan and R. Arutchyan ... and pass it to the state organizations for the official processing and standardization."[2]

Other proposals

To the right are the designs for dram sign submitted to CBA contest by an artist R. Arutchyan and an architect V. Phenesyan respectively. The proposal by R. Arutchyan cognates with Euro sign elements. In its turn, the proposal by V. Phenesyan is based on the first letter of Armenian word Փող (money, pronounced as "phokh").

Placement on Armenian dram bills and a coin

For the very first time the original shape of the sign was depicted on the Armenian banknote in 2003, specifically on the reverse side of the 10,000 Armenian dram bill, which has been reissued in 2006 and 2008. In 2008 in connection with the celebration of the 15th anniversary of the Armenian currency was issued 5000 dram Commemorative coin with the dram sign on the reverse side of the coin. In 2011 the sign has been placed on the 1000 dram bill.

Shape and status

The graphics of the dram sign was developed on the basis of the shape of the first letter of Armenian word "Դրամ" (money, pronounced as "dram") and the two horizontal strokes, found in a range of well-known monetary signs. As a result, this sign combines its Armenian origin and the two strokes present in the majority of foreign monetary symbols. The meaning of those two strokes was researched by the author and is being presented in his lectures.

To ensure protection of authorship the author has sent requests to the Armenian National Standards Institute in 1997 and the Copyright Bureau of the U.S. Library of Congress in 2001. However, Article 6 of Law on Copyright and Neighboring Rights adopted by the National Assembly of Armenia on 8 December 1999 and revised on 15 June 2006, asserts that state emblems and signs are not considered as objects for copyright. Hence, the dram symbol may be treated as one of the national attributes, the mandatory items of which are flag, national seal, anthem, and money.


There are the international and republican standards pertinent to money and monetary symbols:

  • ISO 4217, Codes for the Representation of Currencies and Funds – defines the format of three-letter abbreviation for world monetary instruments. To Armenian dram in it was assigned code AMD.
  • Arm.Stand. 34.001-2006, Character Sets and Keyboards – defines Armenian characters encoding and keyboard layouts. The code for the sign is 91 and shorthand is 'armdram'.
  • Unicode 6.1 and ISO/IEC 10646, Joint standardization for coding multilingual text.

In 2007 Armenian National Institute for Standardization, Measurements and Metrology made an amendment to the Character Sets and Keyboards table and enacted to replace the collocation "dram sign" by the graphics of the symbol.

On 15 June 2011, the Unicode Technical Committee (UTC) accepted the dram sign for inclusion in the future versions of the Unicode Standard and assigned a code for the sign - U+058F (֏). In 2012 the sign was finally adopted in the Armenian block of ISO and Unicode international standards.[3]

Variations of design

On creation of the dram symbol's original shape a number of designs for it were developed to conform to the most popular font styles and their derivatives (italic, bold). In 2001 the designs together with the original shape were given to the Republic as templates for national font sets. Below are presented three main templates; however, there is now a variety of sign shapes in Armenian computer fonts.

In 2008 under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture of Armenia and Microsoft-Armenia in National Book Chamber of Armenia took place "Granshan 2008" first competition for the complete set of Armenian letters and characters, which embraced the sign together with the other characters and symbols.


Official presentations of the sign were made by its designer at the Central Bank of Armenia and at the first Congress of Armenian Technologies (ArmTech 2007) in San Francisco. The designer also arranged several lectures in Armenia, including at the Armenian State University of Economics.[4]

In connection with celebration of the 15th Anniversary of Armenian dram in November 2008 the Central Bank of Armenia issued a 5000 dram commemorative coin with the sign on the reverse side just against Noah's Arch on the National Coat of Arms on obverse. The same year the sign was widely populated in a number of local periodicals.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13] In 2011 dram sign appeared on the renewed official site of CBA and in the design of its new Visitors Center.

The complete information on the sign along together with the considerations on its usage has been presented at Granshan'12 and Wikipedia international conferences, both devoted to the 500th Anniversary of Armenian book printing.[14][15]


  1. Mouraviev, Serge (Сергей Муравьев). The Mystery of Mesrop Mashtots,"Literaturnaya Armenia" #2, Yerevan, 1985
  2. Armenian Dram Sign Establishing Act, The Council of Central Bank of Armenia, Act #25 October 9, 2001
  4. Komendaryan, Ken (Karen), The History of Dram, Dollar, Euro Monetary Symbols, lectures
  5. The interview with Karen Komendaryan, The newspaper of Union of Banks of Armenia #4, November, 2008
  6. Komendaryan, Ken (Karen) Graphical Symbol for Armenian Dram, "Bazis", First Armenian Economics Magazine #8-9, October–November, Yerevan 2008
  7. Arzumanyan, Karen Symbol for Armenian Money, Delovoy Express", Armenian Business Newspaper, #43, 21–28 November Yerevan 2008
  8. Zakharyan, Violetta, Valjuntarizm, "Yerevan" Magazine, #12, December Ethnopress Armenia-Russia-USA 2008
  9. A Monument to Currency, "Yerevan" Magazine, #12, December 2008
  10. Aloyan, Anna, "Economics" Economic, public, cultural analytic magazine #3 (9), Winter 2008-2009
  11. Graphical Sign for Armenian Dram, "Tntesaget" official newspaper of Armenian State University of Economics, #9 (641), November 2008
  12. '"Tntesaget" official newspaper of Armenian State University of Economics, #4 (645), April 2009
  13. DramCode, "NewMag" Magazine, #27, November 2011
  14. Komendaryan, Ken (Karen),The Origin, Usage and Standardization of the Armenian Dram Symbol, "Granshan'12" Type Design International Conference for Non-Latin typefaces, Yerevan, June 14–15, 2012
  15. Komendaryan, Ken (Karen), A sample of the reliable pages creation on Wikipedia, "Wikipedia Armenia 2012 Conference", Yerevan, September 8–9, 2012
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