Christian Church

Architecture and Art in Armenia

Numerous monuments of architecture and relics of art have reached us from very ancient times as far back as the IV century B.C.

During the period of the Urartian State, architecture and art went through remarkable development. They display originality in character and style, and have influenced the style of Armenian architecture of later periods.

Some specimens of frescos of these periods have been preserved even to our days; (e.g. ErebouniYerevan).

The fortress of Garni Is an outstanding monument of Armenian-hellenistic architecture of the pre-Christian era. We also know that there were theatres in Armenia in the first century B.C. (Artashat and Tigranakert).

As from the IV century A.D., Armenian architecture and arts began to develop along original lines.

After the triumph of Christianity, the construction of ecclasiastical buildings spread all over Armenia. The Armenian ecclasiastical buildings of the early Christian period, built in IVV centuries, were of the basilican type with one or two naves and a vaultless roof. The temples of Yererouk, Dvin, Kassagh, Ashtarak, Yeghvart, Tegor and Echmiadzin are all of this style. The last two have later on (in the V century) been modified and surmounted with a vaulted roof.

During the VVII centuries different types of ecclesiastical vaulted buildings developed in Armenia. The churches of Hripsime (618), Odzoun (VIVII centuries), Mastara (VIVII centuries), Zvartnots (Middle of VII century), Talin (end of VII century), are among the chefs-d'oeuvre of Armenian architecture. The palaces of Dvin, Zvartnots and Arouj are the secular monuments of Armenian architecture.

The new efflorescence of the Armenian architectural style developed under the reign of the Bakratouni dynasty (IXXI centuries).

Ani, the capital of the Bakratounies, became not only the centre of Armenian science but also of architecture and arts, during the Middle Ages. The cathedral erected by architect Tiridates and the Church of Gagik, the Church of the Shepherd are considered some of the gems of medieval Armenian architecture.

During the same period many medieval monasteries have been under construction (the monastery on the island of Sevan and those of Tatev, Khedzkonk, Marmashen, Sanahin, Haghbat, Kecharis, Kendevank, Geghard, Haghardzin, Goshavank, Sasvan, etc). The temple of Aghtamar (architect Manuel, X century) and the ensembles of monasteries of Khedzkonk, and Marmashen may be looked upon as matchless jewels of Armenian architecture (from IX to XIV centuries).

Various branches of Armenian art such as the bas-relief, the haut-relief, the fresco and mosaic have also greatly developed in the early and late Middle Ages.

The richest field of Armenian art is miniature painting, which has largely been applied in Armenian manuscripts. Beside each large monastery, there was a library-repository where thousands of manuscripts with wonderful miniatures were kept. Many a time the invaders have destroyed or "taken captive" those valuable objects which are the priceless cultural and spiritual creations of Armenian mind.

During the Middle Ages there were a number of miniature painting schools in Armenia, some of which played a leading role In Armenia and Cilicia. Thoros Roslin (XIII century) and Sarkis Pidzak (XIIIXIV centuries) were great masters of miniature painting. More than 25000 manuscripts have survived most of which are preserved at the State Repository of Manuscripts (Matenadaran).

The Armenian Church has a rich heritage of church music: collections of hymns (sharakan), cantos (gantz) and canticles (Tagh).

The hymns have originated in the V century. St. Sahak and St. Mesrop are considered to be the first poets and composers of these hymns. In the succeeding centuries, Armenian religious poetry was enriched and supplemented by new treasures. Catholicos Komitas (VII century), Stepanos of Siunik (VII century), Nerses Shnorhali (XII century) Khatchatour of Taron (XIII century) are deemed to be great poets and composers, who raised Armenian religious poetry and church music to new heights.

The scale of music notes as devised by Khatchatour of Taron has been of considerable significance in the development of ecclesiastical art.

The Armenian Divine Liturgy developed in the V century edited by St. Sahak and St. Mesrop, based on the mass by St. Basil. The Armenian Missar has been enriched by Nerses of Lambron (XII century). Later on the Armenian Divine Liturgy was completed by the introduction of some new hymns and thus the present-day Armenian Liturgy was developed. The Armenian Church has only one text of Divine Liturgy.

The polyphonic music of the Divine Liturgy by Makar Yekmalian, Komitas vardapet, Levon Chilinkirian and "The Divine Liturgy of New Julfa" are well known to the Armenian Church.

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