martedì 18 febbraio 2014

The Hands Statue in Yerevan, Armenia

by Gayani Simonyan

The original white marble The Hands Statue was brought to Armenia from an Italian city Carrara representing the friendship between the two twinned cities- Yerevan, the capital of Armenia and Carrara, Italy. This sculpture was put in the park located on the corner of Moskovyan and Teryan streets neighboring “Yeritasardakan” (Youth) metro station and symbolizing the friendship between Armenian and Italian people. This is the story known to the majority of people living in Armenia.

As a respond Yerevan sent the people of Carrara a model of memorial fountain made of tufa, and decorated with national motifs, the replica of which is placed in Yerevan not far from “The hands of friendship” sculpture. This memorial was made by well-known Armenian sculptor Ara Harutyunyan and arcitect Rafael Israelyan.

The bilateral donation was done in 1967. This year was an abundant year for opening new statues. It was in 1967 that Mother Armenia Statue in Yerevan came to replace a monumental statue of Joseph Stalin and was put in Victory park, then the statue of Mesrop Mashtots (the inventor of Armenian alphabet) was  opened in front of Matenedaran (repository  of ancient manuscripts).
In addition to this, a memorable medal and a book were awarded to Yerevan by Carrara, as a symbol of friendship, which are kept in the Yerevan History Museum and displayed with the other exhibits associated with the Sister Cities. 
Ruzan Khachatryan, an Armenian skilled journalist, is taking the track, going deeper on this issue and making a short film that brings forward many interesting things about the history of this Hands Statue.
In 60th when the two cities were opposed to be sister cities:  Yerevan as a city of tufa stone known to the world, and Carrara also as a city of stone known for its marble.  So these two cities were proclaimed to be sister cities.
In 1965 the sculptor Ara Harutyunyan with his Adolescence statue took part in biennial of Carrara. During these 10 days they managed to visit the marble quarry that the Italian famous architects including architect, sculptor, painter Michelangelo were using.
Coming back to Armenia Ara Harutyunyan is telling Grigor Hasratyan, the head of the executive committee of Yerevan City Council, about a statue that he had seen in the quarry. The same year Grigor Hasratyan with his delegation is visiting the quarry of marble in Carrara and making a contract to transfer the hands statue to Yerevan and give the memorial fountain instead. In 1967 the memorial is transferred to Carrara with the sign on it: “In segno di fraternità Erevan Carrara”. 

Now about the unknown mystery that has been undiscovered for ages.
What statue did Armenians see in Carrara marble quarry?
According to Aram Harutyunyan (son of sculptor Ara Harutyunyan), his father notices in quarry some parts of a big statue thinking that it’s Jesus Christ’s statue not collected yet: his head with long hair, 2 hands- the right one symbolizing trinity. He is being told that the statue won’t be collected anymore because the sponsor refuses to pay, the author doesn’t want to continue his work and thus the fragments are left in this quarry. His father realizes that they can’t transfer Jesus Christ’s head, so he decides to take the hands.
Ruben Hasratyan, son of Grigor Hasratyan, agrees on the hands being part of Jesus Christ’s statue.
It would be dangerous to take Jesus Christ’s head to Armenia at that time as during Soviet period the rejection of belief of existence of deities was propagated.
So the mystery of the Hands was known only to a few people and only some could guest that the right hand is symbolizing trinity.
Aram Harutyunyan, judging by the size of hands, says that the statue is supposed to be around 15- 20 meters.

There’s a similarity of hands and sizes of this statue with the “Christ of Havana” that Jilma Madera, a well-know sculptor created. The statue is about 20 meters composed of 67 pieces that were brought from Italy and put in Cuba’s capital, Havana. It was inaugurated on December 24, 1958 before the hands could be put in Yerevan.
Just fifteen days after its inauguration, on January 8, 1959, Fidel Castro entered Havana during the Cuban Revolution. The same day the statue was hit by lightning and its head was destroyed. But it was subsequently repaired.

Media was silent about what happened with the hands of the statue but it was written in American News journal in 1963 the testimony of Raul Mendoza, an architect who ran from Cuba by ship and repaired the head of the statue. He said that Fidel Castro’s government took the lightening conductor out of the statue’s head in order it wouldn’t be safe of lightening and to show that God is a myth and his statue - defenseless. Should the architect speak about it, he would be sentence immediately.
Armenian architects are excluding any connection between the statues in Havana and the one in Armenia. Both the author and the complete sculpture, where the Hands statue derives from, remain unknown.

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