Yarkhushta – Armenian Ceremonial War Dance

The “Yarkhushta” is traditionally known as a ceremonial war dance that originated in Western Armenia, specifically in Sassoun. It belongs to a wider category of Armenian ‘clap dances’ or also known as tsap parer – ծափ-պարեր.

Armenian soldiers traditionally dance Yarkhushta before combat engagements, for ritualistic purposes and partly to cast off fear and boost battle spirit.

Early historians such as Faustus of Byzantium, Movses Khorenatsi and Grigor Magistros mentioned the dance in their works and therefore it is believed that the dance had its origins in the early middle ages. However there are some sources who believe it to be more than two millennia old.


The name of this song has different interpretations. One suggestion is that Yarkhushta in Farsi means “comrade in arms.” In Farsi “yar” means not only sweetheart, but also a friend. As for “khusht”, it means a weapon – short spear, to be precise.

The key element of the dance is a forward movement when participants rapidly approach one another and vigorously clap onto the palms of dancers in the opposite row.

Yarkhushta is also a very popular dance during different non-military festivities among Armenians.

I personally love this dance of the Old World, because of its Armenian spirit, simplicity and tribal energy.

What are your thoughts?

Sources: historyofarmenia.org

  • Music library of Armenian Ethnomusicology department.
  • Anthony J. Elia, 2013, Yarkhushta (Armenian Folk Song) for Piano, Columbia University Academic Commons, https://academiccommons.columbia.edu/doi/10.7916/D8NK3PC4
  • Asribabayan, Yeva (October 2012). “Հայկական ռազմական պարեր”. hayzinvor.am (in Armenian). Armenian Ministry of Defense.
  • Diana Der-Hovanessian. The Circle Dancers. 1996.
  • Հայաստանի Հանրապետության ոչ նյութական մշակութային արժեքների ցանկերի կազմման չափորոշիչները և ոչ նյութական մշակութային ժառանգության արժեքների ցանկը հաստատելու մասին” (PDF). gov.am (in Armenian). Government of the Republic of Armenia. March 2010. pp. 8–11.
  • Երկու ֆիլմի պատմություն. Aravot (in Armenian). 10 November 2010.
  • Yarkhushta. karinfolk.am. Karin folk-dance group. Archived from the original on 4 January 2015.

Armenian dance Yarkhushta – Սասնա Ծռեր – ՅԱՐԽՈՒՇՏԱ




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