Khachkar

A Khachkar ("cross stone") is a carved memorial stone that is typically found in Armenia.

The origins of the khachkar date to the pre-Christian period, to carved monumental water-worship idols erected at sources of water, known as vishaps (dragon stones). 

Since 2010, khachkars, their symbolism and craftsmanship are inscribed in the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The most common khachkar feature is a cross surmounting a rosette or a solar disc. The remainder of the stone face is typically filled with elaborate patterns of leaves, grapes, pomegranates, and bands of interlace. Occasionally a khachkar is surmounted by a cornice sometimes containing biblical or saintly figures.

Most early khachkars were erected for the salvation of the soul of either a living or a deceased person. Otherwise they were intended to commemorate a military victory, the construction of a church, or as a form of protection from natural disasters.

A number of good examples have been transferred to the Historical Museum in Yerevan and beside the cathedral in Echmiadzin. The largest surviving collection of khachkars is in Armenia, at Noraduz cemetery on the western shore of the Lake Sevan, where an old graveyard with around 900 khachkars from various periods and of various styles can be seen.

After more than a thousand years, the khachkar is also a contemporary cultural phenomenon; today hundreds of khachkars are still being created in Armenia.