Armenian Military Dances

(Topic – National Choreography)

Martial dances were also called “fighting games”. People gave great significance to their implementation as they were considered sacred dances which have also been a means of military training. Young people were physically training and toughening while overcoming technical complexity of such dances. Highlighting the bracing importance of martial dances on the health of young people, they were included in the military system of physical preparedness.  Dances of the army and regiment were also called “Parq Banakac” (Dances of Army) particularly on the occasion of victories. They were danced before going to battlefield to unite, inspire soldiers and to strengthen their martial spirit.  Sometimes during these dances they have guessed the successful or unsuccessful process of the combat through similar actions.  Military dances were danced not only during celebrating victories, but also during funeral ceremonies, especially when the deceased had connection with military operations. This is evidenced by M. Khorenatsi. All nations and tribes anciently used to stage duels and fights, through which young people were transmitted the stories about their ancestors’ victories. People also danced in honor of cult gods and spirits of fight to glorify them.

“Yarkhushta” is one of the most beloved and popular dances.  People called it “Qajats Par” (“Dance of the Barve”) so coward and traitor people or those refrained from fighting were deprived of the right to dance it. “Yarkushta” was one of the most popular dances in Sasun that took place during pilgrimage. Yarkhushta was participated by mature men, teenagers and even elderly people. The dancers were divided into two parts. The start of the dance was announced by three-time clap, after which they “attacked” each other. All these were done by strict proportion, accompanied by song and dance. Over time, the elements of the dance “Yarkhushta” have retreated giving away the rhythmic character of the motions. It is danced with spreading arms. The basic arrangement is circle that periodically collapses and turns into two facing military lines which approach each other as if attacking and then hurtle clapping over their heads, imitating the stroke of weapon and the sound of the clash. When the clap is done with one hand, one of the sides acts as an attacker and the other is protected. It is possible that long ago partners also bear swords, spears and shields for attack and defense. When claps are carried out with two hands the opposite sides attack, then strike unanimously and defend at the same time. In this case the role of retreater and the function of shield disappear. Another beloved military dance of Armenians is “Rostam Bazi” which have been mainly spread in Parskahayq near Kaputan Lake. It is assumed that the initial version of “Rostam Bazi” was dedicated to the Armenian god of war Vahagn and it had another Armenian name. Later, after Firdus epic influence on Persian Armenians, it was renamed. The power and spirit accumulated in martial dances are transferred from dancers to viewers in seconds and warm up our hearts with the stroke of zurna-dhol getting us to feel the happiness and delight alive in the songs and dances of our ancestor which they conveyed to us as the most precious heritage and assurance of our existence.



Military Dance “ Shatakhi”

#Shatakhi #Yarkhushta #ArmenianMilitaryDances #NationalChoreography