In 1950 the biggest monument dedicated to the Soviet Union leader from mid-1920s until 1953 Joseph Stalin was put in Yerevan, and since then the park and even the district of its location have been called “The Monument”.
There were hearings at the time that Stalin himself visited the Armenian capital to witness his giant image and was pretty pleased by it.
The statue was built under sculptor-monumentalist Sergey Merkurov, has stood on the pedestal of architect Rafayel Israyelyan’s work for 12 years and was deconstructed soon after the beginning of critique towards Stalin.
In Yerevan the disassembly wasn’t as tragic as, for example, in Tbilisi, Georgia, where people died in clashes with police, although there was at least one person to perish during those works in Yerevan.
The empty pedestal rising above the city induced various emotions in people of Yerevan and tourists, and those were not always welcomed by the government.
It was decided to get over with it, and known sculptor Ara Harutyunyan was given the task of the creation of a monument called “Mother Armenia” (“Մայր Հայաստան”, Mayr Hayastan).
That task was difficult because besides the design of the statue itself the sculptor had to balance it in a such way that it would fit with the old pedestal without any issues.
One of the main problems of designing was to find a prototype model for the construction. Harutyunyan precisely imagined a woman with expressive, harmonic facial and physical features. He looked for a woman who would feature majesty and femininity, dignity and gentleness.
He had seen some of these features in his wife and other women, but he needed much more general image. He has found the desired image after a long period of search in a woman named Yevgenya Muradyan.
Yevgenya Muradyan has told about her meeting with the sculptor: “I once was in a grocery store on Kievyan street with my mother. Suddenly I felt that a man fixedly looked at me. I turned away, but sensed that he continued to watch me. It lasted pretty long, so I told my mother about that.
As an answer to my mother’s indignant sight the stranger approached us, introduced himself as a sculptor and told us he had finally found who he had been looking for as a model for his future work. He asked my mother to permit me to pose in his workshop. She rejected his request as I was 17 and it was too early for me to pose for anyone.
At home we found out that the stranger we met was my brother’s instructor, famous sculptor Ara Harutyunyan, towards whom my brother was very respectful, and even proposed to accompany me to him.
This fact solved the problem, and I posed for 6 sessions in total. When the gypsum cast was completed, I was shocked with the insight the artist made out and expressed with the features hidden in me, but incomprehensible for me at the time. Later in life I learned that his vision had been true.”
In 1967 the statue cast of forged copper was put on its pedestal. Remembering tragic occurrences in other Soviet republics, the government didn’t organize any opening events for this case.
The population of Yerevan initially didn’t appreciate the feminization of one of the capital’s symbols, but soon enough got used to it.
But what happened to the woman who gave her features to the statue and who, unlike the monument, is subject to time’s flow?
“I can surely tell that the monument was fateful for me. Every morning I greet my double. You would hardly believe, but that way I receive stock of energy, cheerfulness and optimism, which are becoming more and more necessary as the time passes by.
I entered a university, graduated, became a teacher of Russian language and literature in Yeghvard and then in Yerevan. I married and gave birth to my daughter Naira and son Arthur, my 6 grandchildren are growing up.
Now I am a pensioner. I think that my life developed well, and I am very thankful for the meeting with Ara Harutyunyan and his help in getting to know myself even more. And, more importantly, I appreciate the fact that every morning I see something that, unlike me, is immortal and has unlimited might.”
By Harutyunyan’s intent, the Mother Armenia statue is putting her sword into the sheath, symbolizing peacefulness and at the same time readiness to protect her freedom. Some even say, that monument symbolizes “peace with help of force”.
In 1970 a museum was opened in the foundation of the monument, which later in 1995 was transferred to the Ministry of Defense of Armenia and became Armenia’s primary military museum. Now showpieces, testifying about the glorious combat past of Armenia, are put in there.
The memorial is surrounded with samples of military equipment; in the front of the statue is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with eternal flame on top of it. On May 9th the Victory Day and capture of Shusha are celebrated with military parade, where veterans from both conflicts undoubtedly recall their great achievements and bitter deprivations.