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D i s c l a i m e r
The main components of the khachkar composition
The inscription
The open-air nature of the khachkar meant that the information contained in inscriptions was meant to be accessible. Thus the inscription was placed on the western part of the stele (on the cornice, on the pediment, on the edge belt, on the bottom part of the composition, on the pedestal, the altar, the rosette), so that it would be visible at first glance. It is evident that there was a goal not to mix the inscription with the decors of the composition in order to secure its readability. Despite this principle, there are numerous cases where the inscriptions are placed on the sides or on the back of the steles, occupying more space than the decorative composition itself, and sometimes mixing with the decor, etc.
Several deciphered khachkar inscriptions are also well-known. The detailed examination of these inscriptions makes possible to state that the decipherment is connected to their mystic content (refusal from secular life, prediction of advent of the messiah, etc.). These inscriptions were directed toward a reader with "special training".
Some khachkars externally are more similar to inscribed colophons than to decorated stele. And sometimes the inscriptions appear as a part of the decoration of the composition and in a few cases even are assimilated into the vegetative-geometrical carvings or acquire various decorative attachments, thereby becoming more ornamental. The artistic role of inscriptions develops especially in the 15-17th centuries.
Despite this, khachkars with their limited surface area are distinguished by the short style of their inscriptions and canonical texts. The examination of numerous texts makes it possible to assert that khachkar inscriptions consist of the following ideological-structural elements:
- An event that happened before the erection of the khachkar, thus the motivation;
- The specific circumstances surrounding the placement of the khachkar and ratification of the fact of the erection;
- The goal of the erection;
- Appeal-advice.
In the scheme of the inscription the clear movement of time is visible - past, present, future. The motivation to place a khachkar is connected to a certain event or to a change of the event. The documenting (inscribing) of the fact of the erection can be accepted as a confirmation of the ritual of foundation (with blessing and prayer), and the goal, which can only be holy, is aimed toward the idea of the salvation of the soul.

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