We were taking no chances; for a whole year I was waiting for the occurrence of the excursion.
Last year we had an invitation in our hands (a date but no time mentioned) and reached Sissian's post, Groong restaurant, only to find out that the group had already moved.
Past Saturday we were on time to start the climb on Ukhdasar.
Before we were Armenians, Ukhdasar was one of our residing places. That was six to eight thousand years ago. Typical to our culture, we lived on high mountains, appreciated art and engraved on cliffs, and also enjoyed big game hunting and khorovadz.
There are thousands and thousands of petroglyphs in Armenia, on the mountains of Syunik and Geghama.
Nigol and I with Ashot were in the leading car, a military Wilis. A convoy of 10-11 vehicles followed.
Depending on the occasion, Ashot Avagian's title changes. Most of the time he is the guardian of diocese (Arachnortarani bahag), but when in danger he might transform into a dog or the diocesan.
Ashot is a painter and an unconventional artist. All true artists are unconventional but some more than the others are. This was one of his exhibitions, a whole day event.
There was no road, no signs, we had to rely on the knowledge of the driver and the Light. Except for some small segments it was not dangerous; however it was a torturous climb of ninety minutes. For safety reasons, each car had to keep its distance and follow the previous car. Inspite all measures a car was lost and joined the pack on Ukhdasar after three hours.
It was a charming place the way a place is after a volcano has hit it: rocks with ash color surfaces, a small lake, colorful flowers, and an army of petroghlyphs in a packet of solitude.
One petroglyph grabbed the attention of many. There was a human figure, we all agreed that it was of a woman, a snake and a tree (of life), according to a Sisiantzi interpretation it was the Eden story. If it is, Adam was missing; he is either unimportant or he's the painter.
During Karapagh war Ashot was in the army involved with the morale and motivation of the troops.
On top of the mountain Ashot became the shaman, he became one with his painting, immersed the painting in the lake and asked Mother (creator) her forgiveness for our sins. Then at Shaki he baptized about an eighty of us, gave a badge of eternity to wear and a certificate granting us the status of honorary citizenship to Ukhdasar. For most, the night ended at Dik Dik Karer, for few at the hot waters.
His performance is a mixture of solemn and absurd; symbols of his paintings inspired by the petroglyphs of Sissian; themes from current and past lives; and he is searching redemption and rebirth in new art forms.
For pictures visit: