The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has declared the Armenian Khachkar (cross-stone) an intangible cultural heritage.
The declaration came during the 5th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage which was held in November 2010 in Nairoby, Kenya.
The list is made up of intangible heritage practices and expressions that help demonstrate the diversity of this heritage. This year's session has added 47 elements to the list (see the complete list here).
Armenia?s application was made in January 2010 and carried nomination file number 434. The application came in 17 pages, in which a briefing of the history and role of Armenian khachkars were given (See below complete nomination file).
The report emphasizes the national character of the Khachkar craft and the fact that it was transmitted through families. Each Khachkar is completely unique. There are more than 50 thousand khachkars in Armenia and thousands more worldwide, including historic Armenian territories in present day Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Iran.
Azerbaijan destoryed thousand of historical Armenian khachkars in the Old Julfa cemetery in Nakhichevan in the worst recorded mass vandalism case against khachkars. In Turkey many houses in areas like Mush, Bitlis, Van, Erzerum, incorporate stones taken from original khachkars.
The text of the decision:
The Committee (?) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List, as follows:
R1: The symbolism and craftmanship of Khachkars, Armenian cross-stones, are transmitted from generation to generation and continuously recreated to satisfy the artist?s creativity, constituting a distinctive symbol of the identity of Armenian communities at home and abroad;
R2: Inscription of the element on the Representative List could raise awareness of intangible cultural heritage and encourage dialogue with other communities with similar crafts and practices;
R3: Safeguarding measures are proposed focusing particularly on strengthening transmission, encouraging research and documentation, and providing public recognition, with the participation and support of Khachkar makers, institutions and authorities;
R4: Master craftspeople of the Khachkar tradition participated in elaborating the nomination and provided their free, prior and informed consent for possible inscription, which also enjoys wide support of Armenian communities worldwide;
R5: The symbolism and craftmanship of Khachkars are inscribed in the State inventory of intangible cultural heritage established by the Ministry of Culture.
Nomination File no 00434: CONVENTION FOR THE SAFEGUARDING OF THE INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE
INTERGOVERNMENTAL COMMITTEE FOR THE SAFEGUARDING OF THE INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE
Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia
3, Government Building, 0010Yerevan, Armenia
Tel: +37410 529349
Fax: +37410 523922
E-mail: [email protected]am
Armenian National Commission for UNESCO
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Yerevan, Republic Sq. Government Bld.2
Tel: (+3741) 544041-212, Fax: (+3741) 543925