Khachkars. Noraduz



In Armenia you can see many khachkars – the Armenian cross-stones – not only around monastery walls, but they are also found along various roads and on mountain slopes. Very often, they were placed as tombstones in memory of Armenian heroes. In Noraduz cemeteries, there are several hundred of these cross-stones.
Not far from Airivank Monastery on the shore of Lake Sevan is the settlement of Noraduz famous for its big khachkars (crosses-stones) cemetery. There are about 900 khachkars of various styles and epochs there. Noraduz Cemetery became one of the most visited and popular sights of the Gegarkunik region because there is one of the largest collections of Armenian khachkars.
The prominent feature of the majority of khachkars is the cross with a solar disk under it. The rest of the stone is decorated with images of leaves, grapes, pomegranates or abstract patterns. Many khachkars are put on special foundations. The majority of khachkars of Noraduz cemetery is dated the 13th – 17th centuries; the most ancient is dated the 7th century.
In another popular story, the 19th-century monk named Ter Karapet Hovhanesi-Hovakimyan, from a monastery near the village, conducted burial services at Noraduz; in order to avoid the two-hour round trip from the cemetery to the monastery he built himself a small cell in Noraduz.When he was 90 years old, he asked his brother monks to bury him alive. His last words were: "I do not fear death. I would like you to not be afraid also. Never fear anything, but God alone. Let anyone who has fear come to me. Pour water at the burial stone, drink the water, wash your face, chest, arms and legs. Then break the vessel that contained the water. Fear will then abandon you." To this day people come to the monk's grave to perform this ritual, leaving broken pieces of glass scattered all about.