Home / Armenia / Scandal Surrounding Armenian Khachkar Exhibit in Paris UNESCO House

Scandal Surrounding Armenian Khachkar Exhibit in Paris UNESCO House

Hours before an exhibit on Wednesday night in Paris, France, UNESCO representatives decided to remove the descriptions on the installation and construction of Khachkars (Armenian cross stones), insisting that some of them were found not in Armenia, but in Turkey and Azerbaijan, and thus, it would be a diplomatic error on their part to leave these descriptions. UNESCO reps also removed the large map of historical Armenia, on which it was noted the areas where different Khachkars are located.

The exhibit, organized by the RA Ministry of Culture at the UNESCO House, was dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Armenia and comprises photographs and documentary films on the Khachkar art tradition.

According to a press release issued by the RA Ministry of Culture, there was a large number of people in attendance at the opening, many of whom were surprised and indignant when they found out the descriptions accompanying the photographs were removed by UNESCO representatives only hours before. Thus, attendees viewed the photos on display without knowing where the Khachkars were built and located (only the year they were built was displayed).

UNESCO representatives refused to comment or provide explanations for their actions, reports the RA Ministry of Culture.

The art of Khachkars, carved stone steles of one or several crosses, included in November 2010 in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, is one of the most original artistic expressions of Armenian culture.

According to the UNESCO official website, the exhibition seeks to illustrate the wealth of the Khachkar art tradition and reflects the transmission of craftsmanship from the seventh century to the present day. A “varpet”, or stonemason, was to demonstrate these skills at the exhibition, and illuminated manuscripts, filigree work and wood sculptures will also be on show.