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Spécificité typologique des khatchkars diasporiques : les petites plaques à croix murales

Abstract : Although created in Armenia at the same time as the iconic monumental khachkars, the type of small wall-inserted khachkars can be considered characteristic of the Armenian Diaspora, because its use there is almost exclusive. This essay is the first attempt, certainly still very incomplete, to study this group of artefacts as a whole. As can be seen in the examples, first from Cilicia, then from several Diaspora communities, these small, usually thin plates, often in marble, are no longer erected isolated, oriented to the East, but are fixed on wall surfaces, and therefore do not have their own orientation. Their “decoration” presents mainly the same type of cross – tree of life, as on the traditional tall khachkars of Armenia, but is simplified. In addition to the fundamental purpose of glorifying the cross, the functions of these small slabs, often expressed by inscriptions, are diverse, “votive”, commemorative, funerary, or simply bearers of the protection offered by the cross. The inscriptions engraved on most of them contain a prayer for the memory and salvation of pilgrims (and their family members) – in the case of the plates from Jerusalem, and for the memory and salvation of ordinary believers and clergymen in other cases. Reasons for choosing these modest forms in Diaspora conditions may include a reduction in financial resources, a loss of technical and artistic skills, the absence of the volcanic stone of Armenia, and a desire for discretion, especially in Catholic or Islamic environment, where visible manifestations of foreign worship could be unwelcome.
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Patrick Donabédian. Spécificité typologique des khatchkars diasporiques : les petites plaques à croix murales. Bernard OUTTIER; Cornelia B. HORN; Basil LOURIÉ; Alexey OSTROVSKY. Armenia between Byzantium and the Orient. Celebrating the Memory of Karen Yuzbashyan, 16, Brill, pp.307-444, 2020, Texts and Studies in Eastern Christianity, 978-90-04-39773-6. ⟨10.1163/9789004397743_019⟩. ⟨halshs-02909481⟩

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