Cross Stone (Khachkar)
Artak Hambardzumyan (Armenian, b. 1979)
DimensionsApproximate : 8 ft. 10 in. x 28 in. x 20 in. (2.7 m x 71.12 cm x 50.8 cm)
Credit LineGift of Sylvia and Derek Kruizenga
LabelThis stele is a replica of a 15th-century cross stone (khachkar) located at Noratus near Lake Sevan in Armenia. The original is known as Daniel’s Cross Stone from the inscription at the top that reads: “I, Daniel, raised this cross stone.” Armenia was the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as its state religion in 301 CE. Cross stones first began to appear in the 9th century and were typically raised to celebrate the building of churches and monasteries, to honor a religious or political leader, or to commemorate a historic event. The practice of raising cross stones continued for hundreds of years, peaking in the 15th and 16th centuries, and today there are estimated to be approximately 40,000 cross stones remaining in Armenia, where they are considered national treasures. Cross stones symbolize the promise of eternal life through Christ. While no two stones are identical, this replica of Daniel’s Cross Stone contains many typical elements. The central cross is represented as a giver of life—stylized flowers bloom from the base of the cross while images of grapes and pomegranates appear around its central shaft and arms. Intricate knot designs and symbolic wheel surround the cross to signify its eternal power and a pair of doves appears at the top of the stele to represent the entrance to heaven.