Author: Hamlet Petrosyan
The book is based on the source study, archeological, historical-cultural and semantic analysis. It recreates the complete picture of culture of khachkars (Armenian cross-stones) and reveals the realities and complexities of national life and outlook that stipulated the formation, development and long existence of culture of khachkars.
The main objective of the book is to restore the complete picture of the culture of khachkars (Armenian cross-stones) and reveal the realities and complexities of national life and world perception, which have stipulated the formation, development and long existence of that culture. This will be accomplished through source study, archaeological, historical, cultural, and semantic analyses. The whole Christian and specifically, Armenian environment of the formation of ideology and iconography of the cross is restored in detail in the investigation. Here are represented semantical analyses of early middle ages cross signs and cross compositions. It is shown, that during popularization of the main dogma of Christianity – the salutary crucifixion of Christ – the Armenian Church widely used garden allegories, typical for agricultural society, which stipulated the plant-like characteristics of cross compositions. On the basis of generalization of vast material, including analysis of several thousand khachkars detailed chronologically, architectural and iconographical classification of those monuments is proposed beginning with the first examples (9th c.) and finishing with the last ones (17th c.). The technical processes of the statue of khachkars as well as the ecclesiastical ritual of its consecration and unction are revealed. The causes and aims of exaltation of khachkars are thoroughly investigated, as well as their primary functions and the functions later ascribed to them. The basic components of khachkar composition are singled out and described, as well as their iconographical development and symbolism. The structure of khachkars’ composition is restored and its vertical and horizontal tri-level elements, as well as the upward “movement” of its semantics, its symmetric and asymmetric solutions and their causal analyses, are presented. Also discussed are the interrelations between a khachkar and other composites of medieval culture, using the examples of temples, books, and tombstones. It is reasoned in detail that the main semantics of khachkar composition leads to the sacred mediating role of the cross between believer and God. At the same time separate versions of composition present diverse sacred images, themes and popular allegories connected with Christian and popular presentations of the cross, paradise, overcoming of death, salvation of soul, etc. It is thoroughly substantiated that the khachkar is a basic iconographical image reflecting a universal conception of the world of medieval Armenian society and a symbol of Armenian identity. The book contains 400 pages of text in Armenian, over 500 colour photographs, and drawings.