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Texts / Articles / Ancient pagan time's dances and Christianity in Armenia
    Anah Sari 
Anahit Saribekyan
Ancient pagan time's dances
and Christianity in Armenia
The Armenian people are very ancient people with rich and ancient history. All the culture is permeated with extant coded information. Pagan deities that were worshipped by our ancestors still exist in our subconsciousness. While changing religion they tried to change also consciousness and everything connected with old religion, but almost everything has remained the same. Only some letters, some names or interpretations have changed. The essence is the same as it was from the day of creation. This article explains the very interesting fact that people of the world dance and observe the rites of the ancient pagan times, and a strong connection with nature have not been able to be eradicated from the subconscious of people at all times of human history. Of course a lot was lost in time and space. But humanity constantly returns to the origins of the Universe, and even modern stage choreographies contain elements of ancient pagan dance.
When Tsar Tiridates III from Arsacid dynasty in 301 with Saint George Enlightener proclaimed Christianity as a state religion of the country and that time the Great Armenia became the first Christian state in the world, he ordered to destroy all the roots and instead of pagan temples to build churches. It is well-known that in the ancient times on the places of some churches there used to be pagan temples.  
The temples where priestesses prayed and served the Gods. The most ancient temple Parthenon (which means the temples of virgins) in Athens is a witness of numerous dances, ceremonies of worship and other initializations.
Many others much probably took sacral dance skills from the Armenians. These are the dances that today we call “SHOROR”, women dances that bewitch and make fall into a trance by its slow and sacral rhythmic, those dances that reflect nature and universe vibrations  from creation to extinction and rebirth.
It is known that symbols reflect in dances that come from the ancient times – so-called round dances. These symbols can be seen in our carpets, paintings and miniatures. A historian and a famous dance researcher, a person who has made great discoveries in the field of Armenian dances conservation Srbui Lisitsyan has half-opened an interesting fact that if we form an image in our thoughts that instead of moving legs there are colorful brushes and we look down on the dancers who perform ritual round dances then we see round pictures that have come to us from pre-Christian times – sacral symbols that can be found in knitwear tablecloths, carpets, khachkars (Armenian cross-stone) and particularly on the doors.     
But what kind of symbols there are in fact and why everything that surrounds us looks just like that and not in some other way. And even children who are not taught to dance, don’t speak and haven’t overcome the certain stage of socialization, they always stand in the circle and start moving listening to each other, giving orders to each other in what direction and with what pace to move or entirely transfer into Chaos.
As a matter of fact, I have not found answers on these questions in dance sphere or scientific dance works. I was looking for the truth for a long time and finally found it. With our movements joining the others similar to us and continuing moving in circle we show vibration to the Universe, we reflect the smallest particles that compound the Universe and being. At the back of our minds, we show vibration in ourselves and vibration outside of our planet. We turn into Fractals.
Fractal (lat. Fractus – crushed, broken) – mathematical multitude that has a feature of self-similarity, that is uniformity in different scales of measurement. We won’t go into details of quantum physics and mathematics.
We copy the nature trying to reunite with what we consist of and at the same time we exist separately, it depends on how the certain life fact is perceived.
This is a separate topic, but it is connected with current research. It will be told in my other researches about fractals in dance and fractal dances.
Moving in unison with nature, living naturally and feeling many things subconsciously without any scientific explanations, ancient people lived in harmony with themselves and the environment.
Holidays celebrated according to the lunar calendar and calculations of sun movement symbolically reflected breath of the universe. All this also reflected in dances. Everything is correlated with the fact how believing people worshipping nature up until now have not lost connection with it. Although this might be called in some other words, but still they stand very close to the nature. It is a fact that for the Armenians respect and esteem to the eldest are put on the first place, their word is a law! It means that subconsciously the Armenians are always thankful to everything: what Mother Nature, the Universe or life gift them.
National Armenian dances – are ritual dances devoted to the cult of animals, plants and natural elements. Nowadays used movements even in modern staging in any case contains the components of ancient rituals or ordinations. Dances inherited from the ancestors were performed in everyday life on ritual holidays, weddings, funerals and so on.
Every holiday has its own special dance, which was performed once a year during the holiday of ritual ceremonies, in the certain place, at the certain time depending on gender and age, ceremony’s criteria coincided with this or that rite.  
Almost all Christian holidays repeat for every nation. And many of them also rooted from pre-Christian times. Before the adoption of Christianity people lived naturally and due to calculation of lunar days they celebrated, met nature birth and its extinction, received the blessings from Gods and prayed to Mother Nature.
From the history of ritual festive dances many of them haven’t come to our days. There are many reasons for that. Unfortunately, in literary references saved information mentions dance names, costumes and moods that certain dances describe, but performance technique hasn’t reached our days and many dances in such way have been lost in time and space.
With adoption of Christianity The Dance itself was forbidden. The Christian didn’t have a right to dance. Only pagans danced, other people were afraid of them, kept away from them, didn’t notice them and tried to hold them off the society. Many years pagans in particular kept and handed down antique dances to the future generations.
Thus, dance hasn’t become a part of everyday life, it has become an event for entertainment. People divided on spectators, performers and artists. Such specializations as choreographer and dance teacher appeared. Before the teacher was nature.
Everything celebrated in pre-Christian times was transferred by people into Christianity. They danced exceptionally on holidays and family celebrations.
There are well-known dances such as Astvacacna par and Adjmiacin.
Astvacacna par – is a dance devoted to the God. Initially this dance was devoted to the Goddess Mother, Goddes Anahit.
Adjmiacin is devoted to the God and also has the ritual character. Nowadays Adjmiacin is the centre of Armenian Apostolic Church. The cathedral Adjmiacin itself was built instead of pagan temple. This fact reflects the reality that antiquity smoothly flowed in Christianity. Some ritual dances remained, some were meaningly torn out from reality.
Dances devoted to Gods are danced in circle, arms position is the middle of the first and the third position. They close in spiral and open in circle. Circles are made 3 or 7 times that also have a certain meaning of creating energy. There are right going and left going circles and each in turn has a secret meaning of transformation and the way of praying. Right going dances – personification of kindness, life; left going – personification of death, regeneration and aspiration for reunion with Gods. An astonishing fact was discovered by S. Lisitsianom  that left going dances have the last step with right leg, that is in a similar way means hope that all bad and negative which is associated with the left side and that mystical energy, that it sometimes carries destroying many things, all that will transform and be reborn into positive.
Exchange of energy with earth happens in dance. In Armenian dance jumps are directed not up, but down – to the Earth, permeating in the depth. Sharp movements in knees, relaxed muscles, concentrated manipulation of skeleton and bones movements. These are not just dances, this is a rite, initialization to fall into a trance.
Our ritual dances were kept even after Armenian genocide in 1915. This year it is a centenary celebration for all the world and sorrow for losses of Armenian people.
More than thousands of years ago our ancestors describing Armenian mountain ridge, which starts from the big Masis and continues to the west, called it Armenian dance. They described beauty created by nature as a dance of 8 mountain chains, which shoulder to shoulder turned into dance line what is shown today in cult dances. These mountains are Parhar, Aragats, Masis, Varag, Korgut, Simb Grgur and several small hills located between these huge mountains such as Paragic – dance line that consists of stately men and tender women. Once again it shows and proves the reflection of nature in dance.
Incorrigible harm was made to the culture during Soviet times. A separate work will be done about that. This period has changed a lot in people’s minds. Unfortunately, today only professional specialists know the borders between Armenian and non Armenian. The only good news is that it is proven: with time alien is displaced and only what really belongs to the nations remains. But what was lost cannot be brought back.
It is reasonable to classify and tell about each holiday and dance performed on these holidays in more details in the next works, because there is a lot of information about it that continues this topic.
At the moment I would like to tell about Christian holiday loved by all - Terendez - which contains pagan elements of celebrating. It is going to be celebrated soon and many people are looking forward to it impatiently in order to celebrate it and get blessings.
“Derendez” which literally means from Armenian: “haystack in front of the house” (original wish of prosperity to the house and its owners in the form of good harvest). When Armenia adopted Christianity, the name of the holiday changed and it became “Terendez” from the word “tere” – owner, creator.
This traditional Armenian holiday is celebrated on 13th February.
Christian church celebrates it in honour of Feast of the Purification and called Tyarnendarach.
Today it includes the elements of secular western European St. Valentine’s Day, since the main characters of the holiday are young married couples or simply besotted couples.
After festive liturgy, Tyarndaracha, in all churches there is a rite of blessing to newly married couples. If the day of Tyarndaracha coincides with the period of Great Fast, then churches open veils of altars and recite an open liturgy.
The rite was connected with fire, sun and blazing bonfire. The dance rite was devoted to fertile earth and to all couples with a wish to be fertile in the next beginning year. After the round dance all couples jump over kindled fire cleaning themselves from bad eye, soaking in power and fire energy, burning everything old and waste in it, entering the new era of nature with clear soul and body. You have to jump holding each other’s hands so that the family would be strong and love – eternal. While young couples make their jumps, the elder ones sprinkle them with wheat seeds which is also an original wish of prosperity in family life. Then after the young couples, infertile women jumped over the fire hoping that the flame would help them to become pregnant, and then all the rest celebration participants. After that they joined their hands and danced in a ring around fruitful fire. When bonfire goes out, ash is collected and poured out across the fields, that according to Armenian superstitions must afford harvest for the next autumn. 
Christian church still tries to eradicate, clear up and let out this holiday from Armenian minds, they even don't burn fire in a pointed manner which is the main symbol of this celebration. In any way people after attending liturgy in churches go home and on their houses' territories celebrate Trndez and at all points worship nature elements.  
On this holiday there were 2 dances mostly performed: Govnd and Ver-veri.
Govnd which means fist, clot, was performed only by women of elder age led by landlady with newly married in the centre of closed circle. Every dancer holds a candle in the hands. 
Ver-veri is a ritual dance devoted to the nature, that illuminates earth so that it becomes fertile and everything grows high, ver-veri after cold winter.
 Nowadays there are 2500 types of ver-veri known. It is characterized by high jumps, dance steps described as "two steps forward and one back", performed by men after women's dance Govnd, taking the Govnd circle into its inside circle. Today Ver-veri is performed on all the holidays. Initially this dance was devoted to awakening of nature.  
During Terendez celebration in Armenia you can notice the breath of blooming nature from under the snow - incomparably beautiful snowdrops, the first signs of spring that nature awakes after overwintering, the Planet regenerates and life as a wheel twirling in dance , moving forward and opening for us all wonderful and new.
Translation: Alexandra Doulavery    





 achq    achq 2    achq 3    achq 4 

All created by us - humanity, drawn from nature. The copyright belongs to the God.

                                                                                                                              Anah Sari








allare1        allinone 

... we show vibration to the Universe, we reflect the smallest particles that compound the Universe and being. At the back of our minds, we show vibration in ourselves and vibration outside of our planet. We turn into Fractals.

Anah Sari  



... It is known that symbols reflect in dances that come from the ancient times – so-called round dances. These symbols can be seen in our carpets, paintings and miniatures.


fraktalsinart    Khachqar  Khachqar 2  khachqar 3  

khachqar 5    khachqar 6   khachqar 7  

khachqar 8    qandak 2  the6pointedstarofarmenia 

Fragments of Armenian cross - stones / Khachkars containing drawings of ancient Armenian pagan symbolism. These patterns can be seen in the ritual circle dances. About the phenomenon of circular reflections of symbols in Armenian dances for the first time was written by S. Lisitsyan in her scientific works.




Door handle with Armenian ornament. 





Aries/Rum, his cult is dedicated to the world-famous Armenian Dance KOCHARI, a  ritual dance, dance - worship. On this sculpture can be seen again the pagan time's symbols.




qandak qandak 3 qandak 4


Fragments of pagan symbols on Armenian sculptures.




taraz     zard

Fragments of pagan symbols on Armenian national costumes.





Column of the temple of Zvartnots. It depicts pagan symbol / cult of Aries or Rum. Spiral circles represent the horns of Aries.





The research report was represented at 40th World Dance Congress

3 July 2015, 12:10



- Bdoyan, V.:  Armenian folk games - Tom 1st / published by the Academy of Sciences of the Armenian SSR, Yerevan, 1963 - 297 p.
- Lisitsyan, S.S.: Ancient dances and theatrical performances of Armenian nation - First Tom / Publishing House of Academy of Sciences of the Armenian USSR, Yerevan, 1958 - 616 p.
- Lisitsyan, S.S.: Ancient dances and theatrical performances of Armenian nation - Second Tom / Publishing House of Academy of Sciences of the Armenian USSR, Yerevan, 1958 - 616 p.
- Lukina, A. T .: Traditional dances of Sakha: Ideas, images, vocabulary. - Novosibirsk: Nauka, 2004. - 356 p.
- Martirosyan, H. S.: The Pages of ancient history of Armenian / - Yerevan: Bavigh Company, 2011. - 272 p.
- Tikhoplav, V. Yu .: Harmony of the Chaos or the fractal reality / Vitaly and Tatiana Tikhoplav. - M .: AST: Astrel; St. Petersburg: Ves, 2005. - 340 p. 





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