CHAPTER 4 THE KHACHEN PRINCIPALITY IN X-XIII CENTURIES

At one and the same time Hassan Jalal could legitimately style himself as “King of Artsakh”, “King of Siunik”, “King of Baghk”, not to mention Prince of Gardman, Dizak and Khachen, and Presiding Prince of Albania. He selected the title “King of Artsakh and Baghk”. He was a great builder too. His activity covered not only his native Khachen, but other provinces as well.(Haghpat and Kecharris). He restored and erected churches, khachkars, supported the historiographers.

The first inscription, documenting his architectural and artistic work was preserved in the Vacharr monastry not far from his palace “Darpasner” and later was found in the ruins of the church. It read, “I, who am Hassan, son of Vakhtang and Khorishah, lord of Khachen, erected this sacred church…(1229)”50. The fine monastry of Gandzasar, built near the Jalalian residence, was one of the temporal and spiritual centres of the principality. Attached in theory to the primatial catholicossate of Armenia, it was used from the fourteenth century until 1815 as the seat of the Catholicossate of Albania. The monastry, which is supposed to be of “Zvartnots-type” in the base, is characterized by richly carved decoration, with several portraits of the patron princes. It was one of the finest speciments of an Armenian thirteenth century ante-nave with the vault resting on two pairs of interesting arches, and having a central skylight rimmed by stalactite work. It was built between 1216 and 1261 by the Jalalian family.

The town of Vacharr was a flourishing centre at that time, and played an important role linking the shepherds of the valley and the highlanders. Unfortunately it was destroyed by the earthquake.

Some of the finest khachkars (cross-stones) of Armenia were carved in Khachen in the thirteenth century. Secular nature was typical to the carvings; soldiers, military and wordly different scenes. In order to stress the flourishing state of Khachen in medieval era, mention should also be made of its many fortresses, still partially preserved now. B. Ulubabian wrote about the architectural and artistic activity of the Jalalians, “During the first Mongol-Tatar incursions, in the midst of destruction and pillage, ravished from time and space, they continously built as if for eternity, affirming the common truth that the creative power can’t be stopped”51. The Albanian Catholicos Nerses and seven hundred bishops took part in the consecration of the monastry in 1238. The historian Kirakos Gandzaketsi, who was also there during the ceremony, stated that the monastry was “a skylike temple in glory to God the highest”52

The Russian expert of history of architecture A.L.Yakobson wrote that Gandzasar should be considered as “the encyclopedia of thirteenth century Armenian architecture”53.A professor of Byzantine architecture of Sorbon University characterized Gandzasar as the third among the five Armenian architectural monuments included in the international catalogue of architectural masterpieces, after the Church Aghtamar and Hripsime’s Cathedral in Echmiadzin54.

On the threshold of Mongol invasion of Armenia, the Khorassan Sultan Jalaleddin, persecuted by the Mongols, overran the territories of Gandzak, ravaging the land. In 1255 he captured Tpghis55. But soon he was to be defeated by the Mongol-Tatats, who were reaching Albania.

Again the dark days approached Armenia.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37