of Khachen (Խաչենի իշխանություն) was a medieval Armenian principality
on the territory of historical Artsakh (present-day Nagorno-Karabakh). The
marches of Artsakh and Utik were attached to the Kingdom of Armenia in
Antiquity but in the early medieval period were often under Georgian and
Albanian control under Sassanid or Arab suzerainty. From the 12th century the Armenian Khachen
principality dominated the region. The Byzantine emperor Constantine VII
(905-959) addressed his letters to the prince of Khachen with the inscription
"To Prince of Khachen, Armenia." The Armenian princely family of Hasan Jalalyan began ruling much of
Khachen and Artsakh in 1214. In 1216, the Jalalyans founded the Gandzasar monastery which became the seat of
a local Catholicos forced to Khachen from Partav (Barda) by the steady
Islamization of the city. After the decline of the principality the Khamsa melikates maintained Armenian autonomy
in the region throughout the 16th-18th century Persian-Ottoman Wars. They
In 1603 the
Persians established a protectorate over them and sponsored the establishment
of a local khanate in 1747.
founded by Persia on the territories of the Khamsa in the 16th century. The first beylerbey (governor-general) of Karabakh was Shahverdi-Sultan
from the Ziyad-oglu clan of the Turkic Qajar
tribe, who was appointed by Shah Tahmasp I (1524-’76) in the 1540's. The
power of the Karabakh beylerbey covered
a vast territory – from the Georgian border near “Sinig Korpu”
Bridge to Khudafarin Bridges on the Araz river. The
descendants of Shahverdi-Sultan were beylerbeys of Karabakh until 1736 when
Nadir Shah (1736-’47) took Karabakh from Ziyad-oglu.
The Karabakh Khanate was
established in 1747 under Persian suzerainty in
Karabakh and adjacent areas. It existed until 1806, when the Russian Empire
gained control over it. The Russian annexation of Karabakh was not formalized
until the Treaty of Gulistan in 1813, when, as a result of Russo-Persian War
(1804-1813), Fat′h Ali Shah Qajar of Persia officially ceded Karabakh
to Tsar Alexander
I of Russia. The khanate was abolished in 1822 and military rule was
established in the region.
1747-1761 Panah Ali Khan
Qulu Khan Muzaffar
In 1843 the region became Shusha community within the Transcaucasian
Oblast and Jelisawetpol
Governorate created 1868.
Present Nagorno-Karabakh (Լեռնային
Ղարաբաղ, translit. Lernayin Gharabagh)
meaning "mountainous black garden" or "upper black
garden",is predominantly ethnic Armenian, and is under Armenian military
control. The local Armenian population declared independence from Azerbaijan
on 10 December 1991 and declared the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR). The
NKR's sovereign status is not recognized by any country or international
organization in the world.
Ancient Heraldic Symbols
Gandzasar, 13th cent.
Ancient heraldic symbols can be found in Karabakh mainly on Gandzasar
cathedral of St. John the Baptist built between 1216-’40 under the patronage
of Khachen, Hasan-Jalal Dawla. As such the cathedral
was build in the union of Georgia (1201-‘36) and the Ilkhanid (1236-1335)
eras. Amongst the symbols displayed are suns symbolizing the (Georgian and
Ilkhanid) empires and maybe also moons symbolizing the state. Of the
christian symbols of authority there are latin- and square crosses of
Armenian and Georgian decorative style, sometimes combined with a sun-symbol.
As a symbol of armed authority apparently the hexagram
was used and not the christogram.
Lion and hexagram or six-pointed star
Gandzasar, 13th century
Of the heraldic symbols there are eagles and lions, belonging to the
hellenistic repertory of martial symbols.
Coin from Gulistan
Such kind of a symbol is also the two-headed eagle on a copper coin from
Gulistan dated 766H/1364AD.  It is within
a hexagram indicating that the
bearer belonged to the armed forces, probably of the Turkmen rulers
Last but not least two pheasants are guarding the entrance of the
cathedral. They belong to the sino-persian repertory of civic badges of rank
and therefore date from the Ilkhanid era.
From 18th century Gulistan melik
there is another testimony that the ancient heraldic symbols were still used
in Karabakh. It consists of a stone showing two lions rampant respecting.
Tympan from Gulistan showing two lions rampant
Such lions respecting (often reguardant
respecting) are of considerable antiquity. They probably are a badge of
rank of a high state-official, for example a master of the cavalry or
grand-admiral. The figure also belongs to the turkic set of badges of rank
and is known from 13th century central asian silks.
Of the other symbols there are sirens, symbolizing the
soul gone to heaven. As one of them is sculpured together with the portrait
of a woman, probably the wife of Hasan-Jalal Dawla, it may indicate that she
was dead at the moment of the consecretion of the cathedral. After the death
of Hasan-Jalal the cathedral became the sepulchre of the Khachen-family.
Siren and kneeling woman, Gandzasar cathedral
It may be clear that still some research needs to be done about these
became a part of the Caspian Territory
in 1843 a coat of arms for its capital Shusha was granted on 21 May 1843. It
Arms of Shusha Community
Arms: Per fess, the chief per pale, the dexter Or a
leopard on a grassy ground proper for Kuba; the sinister Or, three gas-flames
rising from a grassy ground proper for Baku; the base Vert, a running horse
saddled and bridled on a grassy ground all proper.
This became the
arms of the Karabakh community on 26 July 1843. 
A national coat of arms was probably
adopted on 2nd of June 1992, along with the national flag.
It consists of a shield displaying the (armenian) national flag of three
stripes red, blue and orange and at the fly a white chevron
indented-counterindented. In a chief is a picture of a mountain range and on
the partition a picture of the national monument “We are our Mountains”.
Supporter: an eagle proper nimbused and crowned with the crown of
Tigranes, in its claws ears of wheat, cotton and vine and surrounded by a
listel with the name of the country in armenian script.
illustration in the head of this essay.
“We are Our Mountains” statue.
The statue has become an unofficial “mascot” for
Nagorno Karabakh. The foundations of the statue go down several metres
into the ground, symbolising the ancient presence of the Armenian people in
Nagorno Karabakh and the fact that they are rooted in the country’s
soil. It depicts an
old man and woman hewn from rock, representing the mountain people of
It is also
known as "Tatik u Papik"
(Տատիկ ու Պապիկ) in Eastern Armenian and "Mamig yev Babig" (Մամիկ եւ Պապիկ) in Western Armenian, meaning "Grandma and Grandpa".
was completed in 1967 by Sargis Baghdasaryan, and is made from
Drawing J. Pattke
Banner of the Karabakh army
© Hubert de Vries 2014-04-25
Köhne, B. von: Vom Doppeladler. In: Berliner
Blätter für Münz-, Siegel- und Wappenkunde. T. VI. Berlin, 1871. P. 20. Taf.
 From: Shahen Mkrtchian: Treasures of Artsakh. Yerevan, 2002. Исторические миграции армянского населения
1899 p. xxiii. p. 170. Also: Герб
уезда ПСЗ, т.XVIII, №17061,