NOVA is the new statement cross by GUGOCO that presents the rebirth of traditional Armenian blossomed cross. Read below the story behind the creation of this very unique cross and the meaning of its innovative form.
Armenian culture is known to be one of the oldest survived cultures of the world. Many believe that Armenian culture is historically linked with the pre-Christian Urartian civilization, an ancient kingdom that existed on the territory of Armenian highlands. Yet Armenian culture is mostly market by its overly sacred nature and is better known through its religious art forms. This fact is due to the long and intertwined historical events. Throughout history, Armenia, most part of the time, didn’t have its sovereignty, and it was the Armenian Apostolic Church that had been standing for the sovereignty of the country and was representing the nation and its culture, maintaining its traditions and, certainly, its interest. No wonder that the Church up today is seen as a symbol of the national identity, and that Armenian culture is better known through its sacred art and culture.
That is why religious symbols have always been playing an important role in Armenian arts and culture. Due to the genocide of Armenians at the beginning of the 20th century, Armenians nowadays are spread all over the world living in large communities in Russia, Europe, and certainly in America, where we can find one of the largest Armenian Diaspora. Whilst Armenians assimilate the culture of local societies very well, integrate and respect local norms and traditions, they never forget their own roots and traditions, they cherish symbols that mark their origins and nurture their longing for their faraway homeland.
Many people today in or outside Armenia crave to carry their national traditional symbols, such as the cross, images of the Mount Ararat, of the alphabet, medieval churches, and other religious symbols on them or to decorate their homes, their environments with them. Yet the time goes, and new times bring new aesthetics. And it is absolutely natural that currently, the aesthetic demands for the visual appearance of traditional symbols change as well.
This is not the first time in the history of Armenian culture that the spirit of the time leaves its imprint on the traditional symbols and art forms. At the beginning of the 20th century the almost forgotten then tradition of Armenian medieval church architecture was revived by the well-known architect Alexander Tamanyan, the godfather of the modern Armenian architecture, who modernized, adapted and applied certain principles borrowed from the medieval churches to urban architecture.
Yet the attempt of Tamanyan to modernize traditional Armenian architecture was not the only time when tradition went through reassessment and adaptation. In the mid 20th century the Soviet Armenian architecture made a shift from neo-classical or neo-traditional Tamanyan school architecture to what was the vogue of the day worldwide-modernism. In the 1950s in the southern outskirts of Yerevan, the ruins of the Urartian fortress Erebuni were excavated on the hill called Arin-Berd. This precious find came to prove the links of Armenian culture with that of Urartian civilization and gave rise to new nationalist tendencies according to which Armenians and Armenian culture were identified with those of Urartian civilization.
Armenian modernist architects of the post-1960s were fascinated by the art, culture, and architecture of the Urartian Kingdom and when in the 1960s it became already possible to raise issues regarding the national identity and national culture, architects opted for the Urartian art as the prototype for their new modernist architecture. This was the second wave of modernization of Armenian traditional arts and architecture.
In the Armenian culture, the cross has been one of the most important symbols that also stands for national identity. The cross appears in the khachqar art that is an art form unique for Armenia. Khachqar art constitutes an important part of Armenian cultural heritage. By the 11th-12th century in Armenian khachqar art, a new type of cross was developed that obtained the name of “blossomed cross”.
Armenian blossomed cross is the only type of Christian cross that is viewed as something more than the cross on which Christ died. The blossomed cross stands for the new tree of life that instead of being a forbidden territory is open for everyone. It also indicates the revival that will follow the death, as a dead piece of log that was turned into a torture and death tool will become alive and blossom once again. This idea was formally expressed by three ‘buds’ at each corner of the cross-wings depicted most commonly in the shape of ornamental circles. Throughout the centuries this basic structure of the blossomed cross has obtained multiple interpretations becoming either more simple or geometric or in other cases more ornamented filigree work.
Nowadays the third decade of the 21st century has brought its new demands and visions. Once again traditional symbols and particularly religious ones become an important element for Armenians to assert and safeguard their national identity, particularly when they live far away from their homeland.
Here at Gugoco, we believe that in the 21st century we need a new style of Armenian blossomed cross that would maintain its floral nature and at the same time reflect the technocratic spirit of the times by its rational, simple, laconic yet complex structure. Not the least we crave to see or rather to feel in this new style blossomed cross the echoes of Armenian traditional aesthetics, something that is very difficult to explain but the existence of which every Armenian would immediately grasp.
Our designers have been toiling on contemporary design of the blossomed cross: we have studied the immense amount of visual and historical materials to extract the most important ideological and formal ingredients of the traditional blossomed cross that was synthesized into a new form of a cross imbued with contemporary aesthetics yet inbreathed with traditional Armenian spirit. And here Nova is born!
The new blossomed cross of the 21st century.
Nova is an18 k gold statement cross pendant, that not only talks about your Armenian ancestry but also about your refined taste for extraordinary and luxury things. It represents an elaborate composition the center of which is a classical cross around which ‘buds’ of small squares form an impressionist vision of foliage. We have deliberately applied to the angular geometric forms such as squares, rectangles, and clear lines to maintain the laconic and minimalist, strict and geometric, yet overly ornamental, filigree image of Armenian traditional art and that of the blossomed cross in particular. Just try to squint your eyes and look at the image of Nova and you will see a clearly outlined silhouette of a cross in the middle of the composition which is yet blooming exactly like the blossomed cross.
The cross has retained its ideological connection with the traditional blossomed cross not only by maintaining the symbol of foliage but also by means of its formal composition. Let’s not forget that traditional Armenian arts and aesthetics present very simple, laconic, and strict geometric compositions. The image of the cross is an homage not only to the medieval arts and architectural traditions but also a reference to the modernist rebirth of those traditional forms in the 1960s when the roots of the national Armenian culture were stretched as far as Urartian and even Mesopotamian architecture. Hence Nova becomes a statement of Armenian culture’s a very ancient lineage that has survived throughout centuries and was reborn several times during its history in different forms but always maintaining its main aesthetics red line.
Nova is a token of the rebirth of the Armenian tradition in the 21st century. We have synthesized this image of the traditional Armenian blossomed cross to be worn by those who are not only devoted guardians or simply lovers of Armenian culture, but who are as well conscious citizens of the 21st century who appreciate progress and walk-in tune with the spirit of the time.