The Structure and Ideology of Khachkar Composition
The Savior Arrival of the Cross
In khachkar culture the notions of the descent of the cross played an important role - stipulating the positioning of the khachkar and several iconographical and inscriptional attributes of the composition. The eastern cardinal direction, from which Christ and the cross arrived, stipulated the clear orientation of the khachkar in relation to the four cardinal directions. The khachkar inscriptions are begging the cross to put in a word for the believers, which would have been meaningless, if there would not be the core notion that at the end of time the cross will come also, and that it will accompany Christ and be a "participant" in the Last Judgment. The savior aspect of the cross starts by its appearance as the guard over the deceased, due to which the khachkars were erected on graves. Together with its protective symbolism, the cross has also been a symbol of the identity of the believer and during the second descent it would point to the deceased, for whom it had been erected, and by its light would accompany him/her toward the real cross rising from the East. Accordingly the cross bearing hands depicted frequently in khachkar composition are the symbols of the deceased, who will meet the real cross. The arrival of the cross at the end of times is one of the main ideological and iconographical themes of khachkar culture, and it appears through several themes, characters and inscriptional texts (heavenly bodies, angels accompanying the cross and blowing horns, illustrations showing the Last Judgment, birds, cross bearing hands, texts mentioning the arrival of the cross, referring luminous features to the cross, awaiting the mediation of the cross during the end of times, etc.).
Under the influence of its being the portent of the second arrival, the cross appeared also as an omen of a holy event, which found its expression in khachkar culture. As the inscription of the khachkar erected in 1195 near Kosh on the occasion of the deliverance of the Aragatsotn province from the Seljuks tells that archimandrite Petros with a vision of a cross predicted the liberation of Armenia from seljuks, and with the realization of the vision erected the "symbol of the vision" – the cross.