Russian tsars were anointed on the Armenian throne

The history of Russia and Armenia is interwoven with mutual influence, trade, and diplomacy. One striking instance of this is the presentation of the “Diamond Throne” to Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich by Zakar Sahratyan, an Armenian merchant. This elaborate piece of craftsmanship was made by Armenian masters from Nor Jugha, a prominent Armenian trading settlement in what is now Iran. In exchange for this incredible gift, Armenian merchants received transit trade rights and customs privileges for exporting silk and other goods from the Far East to Europe via Russia.

The Diamond Throne is an example of exceptional craftsmanship, laden with 897 precious stones and 1,298 pearls, along with various other materials like amethyst, sapphire, topazion, and Nishapuri turquoise. These materials were painstakingly collected from as far away as India. Various types of wood, like china and beech, were also used in its construction. The throne was not only a luxurious seat but also an intricate work of art, with black velvet, red silk, and yellow silk further enhancing its grandeur. Angels and messages were embroidered with small pearls, adding to its symbolic significance.

Russian tsars and emperors used this throne for their anointment ceremonies from the mid-17th century until the Russian Revolution in 1917. Today, this historical artifact is on display in the Moscow Kremlin Armory, a testament to the shared history and diplomatic ties between Russia and Armenia.

Beyond the Diamond Throne, the relationship between Russia and Armenia was also enriched through art and architecture. Astvatatur Saltanyan, an Armenian artist, was invited to the Kremlin by Tsar Alexei after presenting him with his painting “The Mysterious Dinner.” Saltanyan quickly gained fame in Moscow, eventually being granted a noble title by the Tsar. His talents were put to use in various forms – from creating portraits and sacred paintings to designing palaces and repairing churches. One of his most notable contributions was the construction of Russia’s first triumphal arch to commemorate the capture of Azov by Peter I.

Astvatatur Saltanyan passed away in 1703 in Moscow, but his legacy, like that of the Diamond Throne, serves as a long-lasting symbol of the rich cultural and diplomatic exchange between Russia and Armenia. These stories are not just historical anecdotes but meaningful markers of a relationship that has existed for centuries and continues to shape the identities of both nations.

Based on status: Gevork Nazaryan

Translated and edited by Vigen Avetisyan

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