The Ethnographic museum of Armenia “Sardarapat” is actively preparing for the celebration. Several important events will be celebrated here in May: the 100th anniversary of the first republic of Armenia of the Heroic May Battles, 50th anniversary of the Memorial complex to the Heroic Sardarapat Battle, 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Museum of the Armenian ethnography and the history of the Liberation struggle.
The memorial complex “Sardarapat” is a sculptural and architectural complex, raised in the Sardarapat battle land and perpetuating the victory of the Armenian armed organizations and the people’s militia over the Turkish regular army In 1918. It is situated in Armenia, in 55 kilometers from Yerevan.
The Sardarapat Battle, taken place on May 22-28 in 1918 in the region of the railway station Sardarapat, played a crucial role in the history of Armenia. The victory over the superior forces of the Turkish army became fatal for the whole nation. At the same time the victory stopped the expansion of the Turkish army to the North, the Western territories on the direction of Caucasus, prevented the total destruction of the Armenian nation and contributed to the re-establishment of the Armenian statehood.
According to the British historian Christopher Walker, if the Armenians lost the battle, “it’s quite possible that the word “Armenia” would remain only as a term of the historical geography”. The general management of the Armenian army on the Sardarapat direction was put on the Major-General Movses Silikov. The main forces of that army group under the leadership of colonel Daniel Bek-Pirumyan were concentrated on the direction of the major strike, delivered by the Turks on Sardarapat. Ensuring the rear of the Armenian divisions and the defence of Erivani were put on Aram Manukyan. The artillery was commanded by the colonel Christophor Araratov. Among the battle participants was Hovhannes Baghramyan-an outstanding commander, Marshal of the USSR, twice Hero of the Soviet Union.
The sculpture Ara Harutyunyan (1928-1999) dreamt of seeing Armenia as a strong and independent and the Armenian nation- the winner. He gave the major significance to the work on the large-scale projects of the architectural-sculptural ensemble “Sardarapat”, realizing that thanks to the victory in the battle, the Armenian nation defended the right to live on their historical homeland, managed to preserve its originality and the unique culture, the right to create, love and hate.
For the realization of the project a huge work had been done, the project scale had to correspond to the significance of the event.
It included a great responsibility. Harutyunyan said: “Working on the memorial, we sought to perpetuate heroism and a nations’ inflexible will for victory, strengthen the feeling of the unity and confidence in once power, faith and warrior’s spirit. Only by uniting, the nation managed to win.
The Armenian generals and soldiers, clergy, volunteers and simple workers came to the front in the fight”.
Ara Armeni was devoted to his profession to the end: he had a rare work efficiency and a unique talent. Realizing new creative ideas, he worked on each fragment, made thousands of sketches.
The memorial consists of independent architectural-sculptural compositions, united in a complex, transferring the historical values of the Armenian nation, the role and significance of the victory they had: the alley, taking into the museum and the museum itself, the pond, the park, office and food facilities, situated on the whole territory of the memorial.
The visitors are welcomed by 8-meter bulls with wings, personifying the power and strength of the nation, belfry, calling for the defense of the fatherland, then uncloses an alley of hero-eagles. The central composition of the complex is the memorial Wall of Victory. A great art critic, a member of the Arts Academy Sergey Orlov wrote “…In his work on the memorial Harutyunyan artistically, creatively implemented the traditions of the ancient eastern monumental art. He created his own bright, original style, using effective graphical methods- embossed, accented outlines of figures, powerful external silhouette, rhythms of repetitions, dynamics of the figures. The painter’s favorite material - the red tuff gives the work extra scenic qualities”.
On the bigger part of the wall bas-reliefs of winged fire-breathing heavenly pegasus horses that trample the dragon-snake, symbolizing the fight between the kind and evil forces, the light and the dark. At the center of the composition there’s a proud eagle flying over the arch, on the left- the symbol of new Armenia in the shape of a young woman. On the opposite side of the Wall of victory there’re two zonal reliefs that depict warriors going into battle and women, carrying water and wine for them; next to them is the woman’s figure, frozen in her prayer, with her hands raised up to the sky
AN INTERESTING FACT:
According to the initial project, the eagles’ heads were turned to the side of the Southern border of Armenia with Turkey. But after the official protest from the Turkish authorities, the Soviet government instructed the authors to turn the eagles to the direction of the Armenian territory.
At the moment of work on the memorial “The Sardarapat battle”, Ara Harutyunyan was less than forty years, though he was already a mature master. He had had a rich artistic path- the sculptural design of the museum “Erebuni”, the Armenian academic theatre after G. Sundukyan, the monument “Mother Armenia”, the lion Geghard and many more.
FROM THE SCULPTURER’S DOUGHTER’S MEMORIES:
Following the principle “If you want the thing well done, do it yourself”, the father didn’t trust anyone and taking the chisel and hammer into his hands, he worked with the stone, with tuff. He really liked tuff, thought it was a noble material and a truly Armenian stone, giving the special meaning to its color. At the time I was 8 years old. I remember my father spending days and nights on the construction site, came home tired, totally covered with red tuff dust from head to toe and the red marks of the tuff dust were even left on his pillow. In May of 1968 the official gala opening of the memorial took place at the 50-year anniversary of the historical victory. I remember the adorable grand procession – a lot of people, flowers and fruits; the processions participants walked as if on a holiday, in a triumph, dancing and singing…”.
In 1969 the Memorial complex was nominated for the competition of the State prize. The architectural-cultural complex has still remained the biggest ensemble in Armenia.
Love to his motherland and his nation, patriotism were not simple words for Ara Harutyunyan. He adored Armenia and to the end of his life he truly believed that he lived on the most wonderful and great land.
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