The Armenian Art That Azerbaijan May ‘Erase’ From Churches
On February 9, RFE / RL posted an article by Amos Chapple detailing the scandalous statement by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Culture on 3rd of February. The article presents the policy pursued by Azerbaijan towards the Armenian cultural heritage in Artsakh, the false theses proposed and propagated by Azerbaijan.
Unfortunately, instead of the historical toponyms, which constitute an important component of the identity of cultural heritage, the author presented the explanations of the photos based on the administrative-territorial division of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2020-2021. The historical name is one of the main components of the cultural identity; by giving up those names, the integrity of the cultural heritage is disturbed.
Baku announced -- then partly walked back -- steps to remove what it calls "fictitious traces” of Armenian heritage from churches now under Azerbaijani control in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Archival images show what some of those inscriptions and artworks look like.
Crosses and Armenian text on the walls of the Dadivank Monastery in Azerbaijan's Kalbajar District.
The Dadivank Monastery (pictured above) is one of scores of Christian sites recaptured by Azerbaijan during the 2020 war with ethnic Armenian forces over Nagorno-Karabakh. Dadivank is currently under the control of Russian peacekeepers inside Azerbaijani territory.
A detail of Dadivank Monastery with Armenian script and carved figures.
On February 3, Azerbaijan’s Cultural Ministry caused an outcry when it announced the creation of a committee that would take steps to “remove the fictitious traces written by Armenians on Albanian religious temples” in the recaptured areas.
A detail of a 12th-century khachkar (cross-stone) in Handaberd, a fortress in the Kalbajar region.
In a tweet, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said it is "deeply concerned by #Azerbaijan's plans to remove Armenian Apostolic inscriptions from churches. We urge the government to preserve and protect places of worship and other religious and cultural sites."
Azerbaijani officials have repeatedly claimed ancient monuments in the Nagorno-Karabakh region are of Caucasian Albanian -- rather than Armenian -- origin and that artworks, such as the khachkar above, are “forgeries.”