Armenian Carving

By Jonathan Pageau on August 2, 2012

Armenian Carving has always fascinated me. With ancient origins, it has persisted until today despite all the trials experienced by Armenians through history.

Famous 6th century ivory carving, cover of the Echmiadzin Gospel

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.

Detail of the Echmiatsin Cathedral.

Interior of the Gerghard Monastery

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.

Carved dome of the Gerghard Monastery

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.

Facade of the Akdamar Church

Detail, Christ Pantokrator on the exterior of the Church

General view of the Akdamar 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.

Carved Tympanium representing Christ with the wise and foolish virgins in Hovhannavank

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.

Khatchkar at Goshavank Monastery

Khachkar at Haghpat

These beautiful stones are still being carved today in Armenian workshops.

Contemporary Armenian Carver working on a Khachkar


Posted in


  1. AmandaEve on August 2, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing!

Our Sponsors