Armenia, Azerbaijan, Lithuania, Turkey, the Czech Republic and Croatia are among the 29 world countries that proposed their traditions for inscription on UNESCO lists of intangible heritage. Armenia hopes to preserve the symbolism and craftsmanship of Khachkars, Armenian cross-stones.
The Khachkar is an outdoor, vertically erected flat stele, reaching 1.5m, with an ornamentally carved cross in the middle, resting on the symbol of the sun, or of the wheel of eternity, accompanied by vegetative-geometric motifs, animals and carvings of people. The most common reason for erecting a khachkar was for votive reasons – for the salvation of the soul of either a living or a deceased person, but they can also be erected as monuments, or as a form of protection from natural disasters. Today, the main functions of the khachkar are social: focal point for worship, relic that facilitates communication between secular and divine, provides help and protection and serves as a memorial stone.
Khachkar craftsmanship is transmitted in families or from master to apprentice, by teaching the traditional methods and patterns while encouraging regional distinctiveness and individual improvisation. The Armenians have all reasons to want these treasures protected and preserved. Currently, a large portion of khachkars created in historic Armenia are in the possession of Turkey, Azerbaijan, and partly Georgia and Iran.