Khachkars in Adana MuseumAyşe Aydın
The khachkars, peculiar to Armenians, have a significant place in Byzantine art. The khachkars, which can be seen since the 4th century and are still produced today, have many functions. They were usually used for protection on the facades and the courtyard walls of religious buildings and were also designed as tombstones or in memory of important events and people. The cross on the khachkar is often depicted as the Tree of Life. Below the vertical arm of the cross, palmette/ palm leaves develop sideways. The cross is located on a stepped pedestal symbolising Golgotha or on a rosette symbolising abundance. There are four marble khachkars in Adana Museum. According to the motif and stylistic features of the decoration program, they are produced between the 11th and 13th centuries. Taking into consideration the few in situ khachkars in the region, it can be said that khachkars in Adana Museum were also used in castles, churches and chapels. The motifs and stylistic features of the khachkars of the 11th-13th centuries are similar to the Anatolian Seljuk decoration program. The reason for this is that the Armenian craftsmen, who also worked in the building of Seljuk structures, included floral and geometric elements of Seljuks in their works and interpreted them with some additions. This interaction is observable in the floral decorations and the geometric decorations designed with the principle of infinity, together with their symbolic meanings on the khachkars in the Adana Museum.
Adana Müzesi'ndeki HaçkarlarAyşe Aydın
Bizans sanatında Ermenilere özgü haçkarlar özel bir yere sahiptir. 4. yüzyıldan itibaren görülen ve günümüzde de üretilmeye devam eden haçkarlar birçok işleve sahiptir. Genellikle koruyucu amaçlı dinî yapıların cephelerinde, avlu duvarlarında yer almışlar, mezar taşı ya da önemli olay ve kişilerin anısına yapılmışlardır. Haçkarlar üzerindeki haç genellikle hayat ağacı olarak tasvir edilmiştir. Hayat ağacı haçın dikey kolunun altından iki yana doğru gelişen palmet/palmiye yaprakları vardır. Haç Golgota sembolü basamaklı bir kaide ya da bereket sembolü rozet üzerinde yer alır. Bu çalışmada Adana Müzesi’nde bulunan mermerden dört haçkar ele alınmıştır. Süsleme programının motif ve üslup özellikleri 11.-13. yüzyıl arasında yapıldıklarını göstermektedir. Bölgedeki az sayıda in situ haçkarlara bakılarak Adana Müzesi’ndeki haçkarların da kale, kilise ve şapellerde kullanıldıkları söylenebilir. 11.-13. yüzyıllardaki haçkarların üzerindeki motifler ve üslup özellikleri Anadolu Selçuklu süsleme programıyla benzerdir. Bunun sebebi Selçuklu yapılarında da çalışan Ermeni ustaların eserlerinde Selçuklu bitkisel ve geometrik unsurlarına yer verişleri ve bazı eklemeler yaparak yorumlamalarıdır. Bu etkileşim Adana Müzesi’ndeki haçkarlarda bitkisel bezemelerde ve sonsuzluk prensibiyle tasarlanan geometrik bezemelerde sembolik anlamlarıyla birlikte izlenebilmektedir.
Generally, rectangular khachkars (cross-stone) having a cross motif on the front face are peculiar to Armenian art. Between the 4th and the 7th centuries, khachkars were produced as a symbol of the spread and strengthening of Christianity. From the end of the 9th century to the 12th-13th centuries, the protective features of the khachkars produced are at the forefront. The khachkars became the symbol of the cross on which Jesus died for the sake of forgiveness of sins that have been going on since Adam and for the salvation of the soul obtained through this cross. Produced for such purposes, the khachkars were located on the facades of religious buildings, on the courtyard walls of these buildings, and in places with various functions within the monastery complex. Khachkars are made to commemorate military victories and martyrs, make important historical events permanent, or honour the completion of churches, fountains, bridges and other structures. Generally, the name of the donor and the master, and its building purpose are inscribed, with the historical information, on the khachkars. Starting from the 12th century, the name of the master is seen.
The stones with cross depictions are sorted into two groups by the researchers. The first of these, the cross depicted stones, so-called Amenaprkitsch, meaning “The Stone of the Saviour”, features a crucifixion scene with its figures. In the other group, the cross is depicted as the Tree of Life.
In this group, which is also described as true khachkars by some researchers, there are leaves that develop from the lower part of the vertical cross arm to both sides. The cross with the mentioned feature is also called the cross of life. Armenian artists interpreted the cross as a cosmic Tree of Life in khachkars, under the influence of the Apocrypha in which Adam’s life is told. Two important elements of this tree were represented as Golgotha, where Adam’s tomb is located, as a stepped pedestal, on which a cross is placed. In khachkars, generally, the arms of the cross end with palmette or oval or circular motifs. Realistic or stylized herbs and/or fruits stick out from the ends of the arms.
There are four khachkars in Adana Museum. Of these, khachkar number 1 is applied to half of a column body from Proconnesian marble. The arms of the cross on this khachkar expand from the centre outward, forming a triangle and ending with two circles at the corners. There is a small cross on each side of the cross. In khachkar number 2, the upper and side arms of the Latin cross consisting of intertwined braids, end with palmette motifs. Below the horizontal arms of the cross, there are cross rosettes. In khachkar number 3, the upper part of which is in the form of forty triangles, the cross in the centre is represented in two forms. The contour of the outer cross is in the form of a triangle expanding from the centre outward. The cross arms end with palmettes. The inner cross consists of intertwined braids. In khachkar number 4, the arms of the cross expand from the centre outward, creating a triangular form. The contour of the cross is designed with borders in the form of a string of beads. The tips of the arms of the cross end with intertwined braids, and stylized palmettes with five leaves. According to the stylistic features of their decoration program, khachkar number 1 and 2 are dated to the 11th-12th centuries, number 3 to the 12th-13th centuries, and number 4 to the mid 13th century, all made of marble.
Within the borders of the Cilicia region, no khachkars were detected in the museums, except those in the Adana Museum. There are few khachkars in the Cilicia region. In terms of size, the khachkars in Adana Museum and the Cilicia region differ from the other large-sized Armenian khachkars. Khachkars in situ in the region seem to be used on the facades of castles, churches and tombs. The use of khachkars on the castle walls, which is not a practice in Armenia, seems to be peculiar to Cilician Armenians.
Armenian art broadly must have been influenced by the art of their contemporaries, which existed before them in the same area and with whom they interacted, where the khachkars were located. Through trade, in the 10th-13th centuries, following the cultural features and richly decorated objects transferred from the East to the West, the arrival of the Turks in Asia Minor, the Mongolian invasions and the contacts with the Ilkhanid; geometric and floral motifs became the new elements that joined the Armenian decorative art. A similar development can be considered for Cilicia. Khachkars in Adana Museum, which can be dated to the 11th-13th centuries, are generally a part of the Armenian tradition, in terms of decoration program. The connection between geometric decoration designed with the principle of infinity, and the similarity of the palmette motif also took place in the Anatolian Seljuks of the same period seems to be explainable by interaction.
In the production that started from the end of the 9th century, the place where the khachkars were made, the diversity and differences in their forms and styles cannot be determined as the characteristics of a certain period, as can be seen in this study. Classification of khachkars according to certain art schools, taking the political and socio-cultural structure of the region where they are built into account, the special demands of the donor, the innovativeness of the master as well as his commitment to tradition, or his influence from the multicultural structure will provide fiducial outcomes. Taking into account the political and socio-cultural structure of the region where they are produced, the special demands of the donor, the innovativeness of the master as well as his commitment to the tradition, or his influence from the multicultural structure; classification of the khachkars according to certain art schools will provide fiducial outcomes. It does not seem possible to talk about a khachkar school in the Cilicia region, where a limited number of khachkars are to our current knowledge, in this sense.