Imaging and Imagining Avarayr: Visualizing Armenian History in Early Modern Vaspurakan

Speaker: Erin Piñon, Department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton University
Date & Time: September 6, 2019, 6 PM-7:30 PM
Location: American University of Armenia, Room 308E
Language: English
Imaging and Imagining Avarayr: Visualizing Armenian History in Early Modern Vaspurakan
Armenian collective consciousness is saturated with images of the Battle of Avarayr (451). Vardan Mamikonyan and his martyred soldiers have materialized over the last century as statues, tattoos, book covers, t-shirts, etc. But this is not how the cult of Vardanants‛ began. In this talk, Piñon examines the battle as it was first visualized—from the historical record, to spiritual poem (sharakan), to an image within an illuminated sharaknots‛. By adding a visual and ritual dimension to the battle we can begin to understand how Armenian historical narratives from the fifth century were imagined, copied and remembered in the late-medieval and early modern periods—nearly a millennium after the events they illustrate. By tracing Avarayr’s development over time and through different spheres of cultural production, we can begin to ask: what exactly happens to a history when it changes medium—when it is sung, seen, or performed? Does it establish a different historical memory than the one it sought to commemorate? How far does the image distance us from the realities of the battle outcome? And what purposes do these images serve today?
Erin Piñon is a doctoral student in the Department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton University. Her work focuses on the visual and material culture of late-medieval and early modern Armenia, with a focus on illuminated manuscripts and early printed materials.
This talk is co-sponsored by the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC) through private donations.

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