The double khachkars of the Memorial Bell-Tower at the Dadivank Monastery are remarkable examples of Armenian artistry from the late medieval period. The term “khachkar” translates to “cross-stone,” a distinctive form of carved memorial stele found predominantly in Armenia.
The 13th century was a dynamic time in Armenian history, marked by both the Mongol invasions and a resurgence in the construction of churches and monasteries. Despite external threats, Armenian art and culture thrived, leading to the creation of many architectural and artistic masterpieces.
Situated in the historically Armenian region of Artsakh, Dadivank Monastery is one of the largest monastic complexes in the area. Its history dates back to the 1st century AD, and it’s dedicated to St. Dadi, a disciple of the Apostle Thaddeus.
Artistic Details of the Double Khachkars
Carved in 1283 by master Athanas, these twin khachkars showcase the intricate detailing characteristic of Armenian stonemasonry. Both stones bear an elaborately detailed cross, surrounded by meticulous patterns of foliage and other symbolic motifs.
At the base of each khachkar, you can notice the intricate interweaving of vines, leaves, and grapes, which are typical symbols in Armenian art representing life and fertility.
Above all, the Armenian inscriptions provide a direct link to the past, preserving the words and sentiments of those who commissioned and carved the stones. They serve as a testament to the region’s rich Christian heritage and the enduring spirit of its people.
Beyond their artistic merit, khachkars hold deep spiritual significance in Armenian culture. They are often erected to commemorate important events, honor the deceased, or as a form of supplication to God. These particular khachkars, given their prominent placement in the Memorial Bell-Tower, would have held particular importance to the local community.
The double khachkars of the Dadivank Monastery’s Memorial Bell-Tower stand as silent witnesses to Armenia’s rich history and indomitable spirit. They embody the nation’s enduring faith, artistic prowess, and deep connection to its ancestral lands. For anyone delving into Armenian art and history, these masterpieces offer a profound glimpse into the soul of a resilient people.
Image source: Anahit Hayrapetyan