Yarkhushta, Ancient Armenian Military Dance

Yarkhushta, Ancient Armenian Military DanceThe military dance Yarkhusta is extremely musical, playful, and verbal. It belongs to the so-called “tsap” dance type (ծափ տալ – to clap).

The “tsap” dances are ancient military dances, which include Tak Yarkhushta, Slivani Yarkhushta, Khazani Yarhkushta, and several others. In the Yarkushta dances, the main movements are accented by hits of the palms of dancing partners, which symbolize the soldiers replacing their weapons and imitate the ringing sounds of sword fighting.

Some say that in this dance, there are two types of execution of the blows: clap with either one or two hands. During the dance, when partners clap with one hand, one side becomes an attacker while the other becomes a defender. If the dancers slam with both hands, the opposing sides attack and defend simultaneously.

As it is known, Yarkhushta was spread in Western Armenia, namely, in the cities of Sasun, Karin, Van, Sivas, etc. The very name of the dance is explained in different ways.

Some believe that the word “Yarkhushta” means “friend in arms”, while others claim that this word just symbolizes a war cry.

Dancers and instructors consider Yarkhusta not simply a dance but a martial art. It also features fights in which the participants demonstrate the national spirit of the dance.

Since the distant times, Yarkhusta was performed before battles. The performers of the dance were required to wear military national Taraz suits and swords, thus demonstrating their greatness, strength, and unbroken spirit to the enemy.

In the old days, Yarkhushta was accompanied by a song. The text of the song is very short and is just comprised of repeated words “Tosilbano, Tosilban”.

The semantics of the words is unknown, but they apparently symbolize a war cry. Later, the dance began to be performed with the accompaniment of musical instruments like dhol and zurna in a musical rhythm of 2/4. The main formation of Yarkhushta is a circle, which periodically breaks down into parallel two rows.  These rows approach each other evenly, and the dance is marked by three claps. Then, the dancers gradually step back.

Note that the rhythmic dance is performed strictly and evenly. Then, once again colliding and clapping each other’s hands, the rows fall back and again form a circle, and the pattern repeats until one of them loses.

Танец Ярхушта Dance of Jarkhushta

Sasna Yarkhushta


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