On the issue  of the Armenians of Western Armenia

  • by Western Armenia, July 11, 2023 in Culture

Karno Kochari is one of the varieties of the Kochari dance, which was popular in the Karin region. "Kochari" is the most popular and currently best-preserved Armenian dance of the Armenian highlands.

The etymology of the dance is as follows: The root "Koch" seems to be related to the names "goch," "ghoch," and "khoch," which refer to an uncircumcised and uneducated ram, symbolizing the ram cult that dates back to ancient times.

This captivating dance form is characterized by its vibrant colors and masculine dynamics. Although the dancers may no longer be aware of the ancient "ram-goat" content of the dance, the original form of the dance, rooted in the valleys, has not been completely leveled out by time and subsequent cultural changes.

When asked about the origins of Kochari, many people respond with uncertainty, stating that they do not know. Some even answer the question with another question, emphasizing that the love for this dance is ingrained in their blood, and that's what truly matters.

Gagik Ginosyan, the founder and leader of the ethnographic dance ensemble "Karin," disagrees with such an approach to Armenian heritage. He believes that Armenians should strive to know more about their own culture to prevent others from appropriating it. Ginosyan emphasizes the importance of instilling patriotism in children from infancy.

Kochari originated during pagan times when trees, water, the sun, and animals were worshipped. The dance, which imitates the body movements, strength, and power of the wild ram, symbolizes the ram cult and its association with territorial protection and the defense of the flock. Even today, centuries later, elements of this cult are preserved in both architecture and everyday life, with the Kochari dance being a prominent example.

Indeed, the cult of the ram is reflected in various forms of art. In particular, architectural elements resembling ram horns can be observed. Historians note that during the period of the cult, many sculptors depicted not only the horns but also the head of the ram. Armenians believed that by embodying the fearlessness of the ram, they could not be enslaved by anyone.

The dance also reflects elements of the ram cult. Kochari originated during the time of the ram cult, and it involved a ritual known as "getting up." This ritual entailed climbing on the hind "hooves" like a ram, ascending, and forcefully striking the ground with them. This element is preserved in several variations of Kochari, where dancers stand in a row, lift their feet, and vigorously strike the ground.