Armenian Carving has always fascinated me. With ancient origins, it has persisted until today despite all the trials experienced by Armenians through history.
Its intricate patterns coupled with very hieratic figures bring to mind ancient Irish grave markers somehow fused with Islamic geometric art. Interestingly, carving in Armenia is integrated directly into Church architecture in a way usually foreign to Greek or Slavic Orthodox traditions.
The most dramatic example of this is the cave monastery of Gerghard where figures, animals and patterns are partially carved directly out of the mountain.
As an icon carver, it of course gives me a warm smile to see iconographic images used even on the facade of Churches, such as in the wonderful Akdamar Island church.
Even Tympanium carving, that is carving of images over doors of churches was developed in Armenia, a feature mostly seen in Western Medieval churches.
Intricate carved grave markers or “Khatchkar” are prominent, and are often reused in buildings. To me, these markers show the largest influence of Islamic geometric art fused with Christian imagery.
These beautiful stones are still being carved today in Armenian workshops.