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Khachkar (Stone Cross)


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 300

The Armenians, who recognized Christianity as their state religion at the beginning
of the fourth century, have long maintained an independent Christian tradition. Living on the eastern border of Byzantium, they frequently installed imposing stone crosses called Khatchkars as memorials to the dead and to mark the location of significant events during the medieval period. The elaborate interlace frame on this Khatchkar contains a monumental cross resting on the heads of the four evangelists, the authors of the Gospels. The large head of Saint Matthew’s angel presides over the smaller heads of Saint Mark’s lion, Saint Luke’s ox (on its side), and Saint John’s eagle (in profile). The Khatchkar is from northern Armenia,a region that fell to the Mongols in the early thirteenth century, soon after the Khatchkar was carved.

Khachkar (Stone Cross), Basalt, Armenian

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