A Real Khachkar (Cross-Stone) Was Made In Armenia From Pink Tuff
In 2007, the family of then-17 year old Davit Mouradian was devastated by the loss of their son. The idea of building Davit’s Memorial was born, and various projects were set for implementation simultaneously. Building of a new shrine started in the town of Mughni, Armenia, where locals currently frequently visit to light candles, celebrate a special religious occasion, or simply to pray and burn khunk. There stands the first of the two Khachkars – Davit’s Khach. But it was a project that took three years to complete – both khachkars were carved in this location, but the particular Tuff rock was difficult to locate.
The idea was to make the second khachkar different from the one standing in Mughni; a unique piece, something being “worthy” of the efforts of transportation, and a rather large piece. The family was adamant – they wanted an over 2 meters carving, all done on a one-piece pink Tuff rock. This required extensive excavation, multiple hit and miss attempts (a couple of early attempts were unsuccessful due to brittle stone and broken pieces), and finally by the end of 2007 they found the perfect piece to start the actual carving.
Internationally known Nazeni Gharibyan (a.k.a. Haji Nazeni) designed both Mughni and Dallas Khachkars. The theme was derived from a 16th century Armenian khachkar designs. The actual carver is Andranik, an Armenian church builder.
The whole project took over 3 years. Eventually, the base, the khachkar, the flower pot, and the khunkaman (incense burner), were all carved from the same piece of Tuff. Now the question of transportation was being handled, while negotiations with Sparkman Hillcrest began, to actually allow a foreign stone – Tuff – to be incorporated in their park. Note that Sparkman’s policy is to only allow granite memorials in the park because of warranty and care insurance. It took almost 1 year to negotiate the installation of this khachkar in Sparkman Hillcrest Park. At the end of the year, taking into consideration the uniqueness of this artwork, Sparkman Hillcrest’s leadership agreed to incorporate this piece in their park.
The creation of the khachkar and its base was also very complex; a group of engineers was invited to “fake” install it in Armenia to ensure that after the transportation to its main location, the pieces would fit and would withstand the harsh Texas weather. Then this 17 ton two-piece monument was created by a French company and transported to Dallas. It was then installed at the Sparkman Hillcrest Park in late 2010. The khachkar is now marked as the only Armenian khachkar in the Park. As the administration has recently changed, the receptionist(s) may not necessarily know where to take the visitors. It is now in the graveyard of Davit Mouradian (son of St. Sarkis Orthodox Armenian Church Parishioners Vahram Mouradian and Inessa Harrell).
The family will be happy if the community members pay a visit to this amazing “immigrant” Khachkar. The address of Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery is 7405 W Northwest Hwy, Dallas, TX 75225. The park is working from 8 AM till 6 PM.
By Luso Meeks
Photo by Manan Trevor