The ancient Armenian tradition of khachkars (literally meaning “cross-stone” in Armenian) has made its way to America and woven its way into Armenian communities around the world.
Los Angeles, where 400,000 people of Armenian heritage reside, is a particularly rich field for the seeds of this art form to grow. Unfortunately, people still mistakenly assume khachkars to be funerary in nature.
I snapped a whole bunch of images of these intricate LA-area sculptures and made them available via a Flickr slideshow here. They are rather lovely but not always imaginative.
Just in case anyone cared, there are over 50 reasons for erecting a khachkar but most can be grouped into the following 5 categories:
- Secular & religious constructions (inauguration, renovation or foundation of a fortress, tower, bridge, spring, water reservoir, church, etc.);
- Economic, administrative & communal activities (planting of a garden, regulation of water usage, demarcation and ratification of borders, signing of agreements, nomination to an official position, ratification of donations, etc.);
- War related (victory, losses, missing military personnel);
- Family-personal life (tragedies, death, etc.);
- Religious-mystic events (vision, change of religion, etc.).