1.08 | Biblical Mount Ararat and Bronze Statues

The belief of the City:

The transition from Symbol of the Biblical Mount Ararat to the USSR Bronze Statues

The belief and motto of Yerevan shifted from Christianity to the Communist USSR. The Kingdom of Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion. Mount Ararat has been the symbol of the national religion since a long time ago as it is believed that Mount Ararat was the final destination of the Norah Ark. It was central to the pre-Christian Armenian mythology. In Tamanyian’s plan, the city is designed to create a visual relationship with the mountain. After the death of Lenin, when Stalin started to take over the USSR, Yerevan experienced its Culture 2 period. The USSR started to weaken the emphasis on Mount Ararat by erecting enormous Bronze statues in various core spots in Yerevan.

Biblical Mount Ararat

Armenians are described in places as people of Ararat and Mount Ararat is used as the symbol to present the Armenian Culture. The first Biblical mentions of Ararat was in the Fourth Chapter of the Book of Genesis:

Genesis 8:4, NIV: “and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.

which describes “the mountains of Ararat” as the final landing place of Noah’s Ark. After 7 months of living on the sea, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. This Genesis flood narrative was linked to the Armenian myth of origin by historian Movses Khorenatsi around 450 AD.

In Tamanyian’s plan of Yerevan in 1924, he used the planning to addressed various aspects of the new-defined nationality including the biblical Mount Ararat. Various streets and the Great Avenue passed through the urban fabric leads to Mount Ararat. The Central Boulevard along the N-S Axis designed towards Mount Ararat at the South. This invited the view of the Holy Mountain into the city. Mount Ararat became the backdrop of Yerevan and the city has dwelled with the mountain itself (see 2.08).

Map showing the location of Mount Ararat and Yervan.

Hewsen, Robert H. Armenia: A Historical Atlas. Edited by Christopher C. Salvatico. Chicago: London: University of Chicago Press, 2001. Color overlays by the author of this post.

Painting depicting the iconic dual peaks of Mount Ararat.

Panos Terlemezyan, Autumn in Yerevan. 1935. Oil on cardboard, 60 x 80 cm. Cafesjian Center for the Arts, Yerevan. Yerevan: Cafesjian Center for the Arts, 2012. Exhibition catalogue, accessed December 18, 2020. https://issuu.com/cafesjiancenterforthearts/docs/yerevan_catalog

 

“… the urban ensemble merges with the surrounding landscape – the spaces of the Araks valley, shining Ararat, jagged Alagez and rhythmic ridges of Agmagan. This interpretation of the center does not diminish the architectural significance of the surrounding urban areas…”

“The Draft Plan of Yerevan City”, Architecture of Leningrad, No.2, P.23, 1938. Available From: https://ru-sovarch.livejournal.com/797314.html. (accessed on December 20, 2020) Color overlays by author of this post.

 

“It will lead to another street from the Administrative Zone to the Central Station, a street with a beautiful view of the Mount Ararat. One street will lead to the sight of Hrazden Cascade. …  The street will lead you to Sayat-Nova dam. The construction of this street has already started. The view from the Great Avenue to Ararat. “

Alexander Tamanyan, “The Proposal of Yerevan Reconstruction to the Chairman of State Council”. Armenian SSR Public Administration Academy, f. 40/113, c.3, c. 181 (1923). 2. Color overlays by the author of this post.

 

“In general, the location of Yerevan gives many opportunities to create beautiful perspectives for the city – a view to, Ararat.

Tamanian, Alexander. “Critique Towards Yerevan Reconstruction”. Some Issues of Our Architecture. 10-12 (1932). Available from: National Library of Armenia, http://haygirk.nla.am/cgi-bin/koha/opac-detail.pl?biblionumber=1169. (Accessed December 2. 2020). Color overlays by author of this post.

 

V.G. Bogdanov, General perspective view to Ararat Mountain of the Planning Project of Yerevan, Watercolor drawing. Refer to 2.08.

 

Sketch depicting the Charent’s Arch which is dedicated to frame Mount Ararat by the author of this post on 8 June 2019

 

The USSR Bronze Statues

At the beginning of the period when the Soviet Union was in charge the icon of Mount Ararat was included in the seal of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. At that time, the Soviet Union was led by Lenin and it gave Yerevan slight freedom to develop its own nationality after the rule of Persian. However, later, Stalin’s Soviet Union imposed the city planning to weaken the Armenian Nationalism. They established a 30-meter tall statue at the northern mountain to shift the focus from Mount Ararat to the south. They also erected large Bronze Statues of Lenin and Stalin at various plazas to slowly strengthen the rule of the Soviet Union through these symbols.

Seal of the Armenia Soviet Socialist Republic, 1922. Note the dual peaks of Ararat depicted.

 

“3. In the final design of the Soviet Palace (1934-1935), the building has a step-by-step composition, crowned with a monument to Lenin.”

Alexander Tamanyan “WHAT AM I WORKING ON?,” Khordallin Hayastan Newspaper, July 10, 1934. Available From: National Library of Armenia, http://haygirk.nla.am/cgi-bin/koha/opac-detail.pl?biblionumber=1169. (Accessed December 2. 2020). Color overlays by the author of this post.

 

“2. Tamanyan suggested two places in the square for the statue of Lenin, initially in 1924. In the plan, the place of today, later, in 1932, the place of the current basin of the square, for this, based on the urban conditions of the square, he proposed not a statue, but a monument. In this article, Tamanyan refers to his latest proposal.”

Alexander Tamanian “The Capital of Soviet Armenia,” Literary Newspaper, December 15, 1935. Available From: National Library of Armenia, http://haygirk.nla.am/cgi-bin/koha/opac-detail.pl?biblionumber=1169. (Accessed December 2. 2020). Color overlays and text translated by author of this post.

 

There were statues of iconic leaders of the Soviet Union in Yerevan. Lenin was the former premier of the Soviet Union. Stalin was the next premier of the Soviet Union after Lenin. Marx published the Communist Manifesto and later developed into Marxism-Leninism. Kamo was an early companion to Soviet Stalin. Nelson Stepanyan who was the only Armenian, was the regimental commander in the Soviet Air Force and was awarded the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union, whose statue is the only one that still standing among these five.

Alexander Tamanyan, Генеральный План Еревана. Yerevan, 1932. http://www.projectclassica.ru/school/18_2006/school2006_18_03a.htm (accessed November 30, 2020). Color overlays by the author of this post.

 

Statue of Vladimir Lenin at the Lenin Square (now Republic Square). It has been taken down at 1991.

Photography of Lenin Square, 1947. Color overlays by the author of this post.
Photography of Lenin Statue by Artak, 1967. Available from: Meronq, https://meronq.com/album/24365-?albumid=5&attachmentid=335 (accessed December 22, 2020)

 

Statue of Joseph Stalin at Victory Park. It has been taken down at 1962 and replaced with the current statue of Mother Armenia.

Photography of Statue of Joseph Stalin by Artak, 1950. Available from: Meronq, https://meronq.com/album/24365-?albumid=5&attachmentid=335 (accessed December 22, 2020)
Photography of the Statue of Mother Armenia, 1985. Available from: https://www.etoretro.ru/pic194297.htm?sort_field=image_date&sort=DESC&position=6#photo

 

Reference:

Baghshinyan Z. T., Azibekyan P. B., Markaryan O. C., Arutunyan B. M., Babayan L. M., “Architecture of Soviet Armenia”. Architecture and urban planning press, Moscow, 1951, p. 40 (in Russian); 

Arutunyan B. M., Asatryan M. M., Melikyan A. A. “Yerevan”. Construction literature press: Moscow, 1968, p. 302 (in Russian); 

Grigoryan A. G., Tovmasyan M. L., “Architecture of Soviet Armenia”. Stroyizat: Moscow, 1986, p. 320. (in Russian)”

2020-2021

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