Sunday, May 23, 2010
The Armenian Cemetery of Julfa
The violence against the memory and history of the Armenian people reached its climax with the total destruction of the historical cemetery of Julfa (known as ‘Jugha' in Armenian) located in Yernjak District.
Julfa Cemetery used to extend over three hills on the left bank of the river Arax. Boasting a special place in the treasury of world heritage, this extensive depository of spiritual and artistic monuments aroused the admiration of both Armenian and foreign travellers and art historians for many centuries. French traveller Alexandre de Rhodes, who visited the cemetery in 1648, saw 10,000 standing khachkars and ram-shaped tombstones there. By 1904, however, their number had been reduced to 5,000.
The khachkars of Julfa Cemetery fall into three groups. The first group dates from the period between the 9th and 13th centuries; the second group from the 14th to 15th centuries, and the third covers the time span between the early 16th century and the year 1605.
All the khachkars were carved of pink and yellowish stone. Having equal width from top to bottom, they were between two and two and a half metres high. Their central parts were more deeply-engraved, the crosses and double-layer reliefs creating a peculiar contrast of light and shade. The khachkars were adorned with fine rosettes, as well as reliefs of plants, geometrical figures and scenes of daily life. Their upper parts often bore the representations of Christ, the Evangelists and the Holy Virgin. Most of the khachkars and grave-stones of the cemetery had embossed or engraved Armenian epitaphs.
by Dr. Armen Haghnazarian