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Karmiravank (Vaghuhas)

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Karmiravank Photo ©
The monastery is situated in forest, surrounded with deep canyons and slopy slopes, in 3km from ancient Vaghuhas. The complex consists of a church, vestibules, chapel, destroyed cells and other constructions. All the constructions were built from the local chipped stone. Trimmed stones are only used in the casings of bays, openings of doors and windows. The inscribed stones with epigraphic inscriptions are also trimmed. For monastery’s khachkars is used rough pink stone. They have certain similarity with the above-described stones of Tartar valley. All the khachkars stand out by high carving technique and have several stylistic peculiarities.

The monastery is full of epigraphic inscriptions, from which 18 were published. The inscription are carved on the walls of the church and the vestibule, on the squared-beam stones of portals and khachkars. They tell true and valuable information not only about the monastery’s construction, but also about the social-political relations of Top Khachen’s principality.

The 16-line building inscription carved on a narrow and long stone, placed in the eastern part of northern wall says, “ In the summer of 673 (1224). I, Vakhtang’s son, Hasan’s brother built this church and gave to (church) service my son Grigor and the planted by me garden in Chak together with the gardener (for) my soul’s salvation…”. About this church’ building, but with mentioning other date and other orderer is informed in a 13-line inscription of its southern wall- “In the summer of 708 (1259). I, Ter Grigor, Amaras’ episcop joined the sacred friary and paid wage to the architect, that built the church. Monastery’s leader, Ter Grigoris…”. A repeated building of the church 35 years later, most likely speaks about that the church was harmed or even maybe destroyed by the enemy to such degree that the repairers found suitable to use the word “build”. The dates can’t be mistaken, as according to the first inscription , Sakar sends his son Grigor to serve in church, and in the second inscription the same Grigoris appears as the leader of the monastery.

As is known Sakar or Sakr was the representative of Tsar’s princedom. In the other, not less interesting inscription on one of Karmirvank’s khachkars is told the name of the church, or maybe the monastery: “Surb Grigor from Berdadzor”. In the inscription are also mentioned the gifts, presented by Sakar. This way, Sakar most likely rebuilt Surb Grigor monastery in Berdadzor and became its guardian.

Obviously the architect that rebuilt the church was rather a famous person, as his name he changed by title Varpet (teacher) the inscriptions on the church-walls give interesting information also about the amount of wage of architects. According to S. Barkhudaryan’s calculations the unknown architect-master that fully repaired small constructions of Karmir monastery, got 80 dehekans. This for XIIIc “is a considerable sum of money, especially in outskirts”

What concerns the monastic constructions of Karmir or Berdadzor, then we should mention that the church is a small vaulted hall, to which from north joins the vestibule, and from south- the chapel. All the walls are built from chipped white and orange lime-stone. Here were also used large slabs.

The southern and northern walls of the monument are rather large. in the walls from interior side of the vestibule were built large bays, through which one can get to the vestries, placed in the walls.

Monastery Karmir is known as a prominent center of manuscript work. One of the monastery’s writers, named Vardan, in an inscription since 1621 informs about in what difficult conditions were the creators of Armenian manuscripts to work. “While writing a page they had to stand up 10 times. Don’t be sever to me for the book and the mistakes in it”. I take the pen and I need to take care of the stones and the wood, then will write a little- again I need to go take care of the garden…” obviously writer Vardan was charged with keeping monastery’s economy.


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