The Church of Vakunis
Vakunis village is located in Kashatagh region of the Artsakh Republic, 46 km north of Berdzor, on the bank of the Shalva tributary of the Hakari River. The 17th century church is located in the central part of the village (Figs․ 1, 2).
Fig. 1 The view of the church of Vakunis from the south-west, photo by H. Abrahamyan.
Fig. 2 The view of the church of Vakunis from the south-east, photo by H. Abrahamyan.
No historical data is known on the church of Vakunis. Based on the architectural-compositional solutions and the embedded khachkars and gravestones, the church is a 17th century structure. From the second half of the 18th century, the locally established Kurds used the building for economic purposes.
The church is built of local raw stones and lime mortar. The structure on the eastern side is a single-nave basilica with a rectangular altar and a pair of vestries (Fig. 3), with external dimensions of 11-70x8-20 meters (Karapetyan 2001, 164, Fig. 4).
Fig. 3 The view of the church of Vakunis, photo by H. Abrahamyan.
The semi-cylindrical vault (it is completely absent) was reinforced with an arch rising on both columns attached to the northern and southern walls. The only entrance is from the west, it is sagittal, bordered by old khachkars and gravestones (Figs. 5, 6). On the northern wall, near the vestry, there is an inbuilt sagittal baptismal font. Khachkars and gravestones were also used to decorate the entrances of the vestries. The church has three windows that open onto the eastern walls of the main altar and the vestries.
Fig. 6 The gravestone used as the left cornerstone of the entrance of the church of Vakunis, photo by H. Abrahamyan.
Fig. 4 The plan of the church of Vakunis, S. Karapetyan, Armenian cultural monuments in the region of Karabakh, p. 164.
Fig. 5 The entrance of the church of Vakunis, photo by H. Abrahamyan.
Numerous khachkars and gravestones of the 13th-17th centuries were used in the walls (Figs. 7, 8), three of which have inscriptions (Karapetyan 2001, 165). Traces of an older structure built of hewn stones have been preserved from the western side of the church. A contemporary cemetery used to be spread around the building, from which several gravestones have been preserved.
The condition before, during and after the war
The church of Vakunis was not subjected to any other changes before the war, except for the filled soil taken out of the building.
Fig. 7 The gravestone used as an entrance lintel of the southern vestry of the church of Vakunis, photo by H. Abrahamyan.
Fig. 8 From the khachkars used in the walls of the church of Vakunis, photo by H. Abrahamyan.
In his book “Armenian cultural monuments in the region of Karabakh”, researcher S. Karapetyan calls Vakunis village as Bchants and identifies it with the village mentioned in the inscription (dated to 1214) of the cathedral church of Dadivank (Karapetyan 2001, 165).
- Karapetyan 2001 – Karapetyan S., Armenian cultural monuments in the region of Karabakh, Yerevan.