Tsaghats Kar

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Tsaghats Kar 5: Eastern Complex. St. N'shan (1). St.Karapet (2).

Tsaghats Kar: Eastern Complex

The buildings in the eastern complex are well preserved. Stepanos Orbelian wrote they were built in 1041 for Abbot Vardik, as also mentioned in preserved inscriptions found in the complex.

St. N'shan (1)

The farthest east building is St. N'shan church (“Holy Sign”) with giant khachkars fronting its western façade. The church was built at the same time as nearby St. Karapet and is beautifully adorned with two great khachkars and a window with double arch. The two-story entry leads to a narrow hall, the original structure.

St. Karapet (2)

The domed cruciform church is St. Karapet (“the Forerunner” or John the Baptist) attributed to Abbot Vardik. It has four annexes in its corners and is highly decorated with carvings inside and out. The altar apron has a series of vases on its frontispiece, much like that at the 6th-7th cc Ptghni cathedral near Yerevan. The dome is supported by pendentives (spherical triangles) at the corners of the central square. The exterior walls have niche buttressing with carved arches.

Inscription over the South entrance:

Lord Christ,
Have mercy until your second coming the way you have forgiven the witnesses of your crucifixion: thieves on the cross and tax collectors in the temple. I, Father Vardik, receiver of St. John the Baptist (church) promise each year to celebrate mass in my five churches on St. Sarkis Day. Those who disobey will be cursed; those who obey will be blessed by God.

The wall bas relief carvings include a number of emblems, some of which identify donors, or which may be family crests of those who fell in the 5th century Vardanants war. They include grapes and pomegranates (south doorway) and a herald with an eagle clutching a lamb (the Proshian family seal), another on the north wall with a lion and bull in combat (the Orbelians). The eastern window is especially elaborate.