'Crystals of Refrain' – Aghdzk, Armenia - Atlas Obscura

'Crystals of Refrain'

Aghdzk, Armenia

Atop a small Armenian hilltop adorned with many forms, and carvings, these stones tell a whimsical tale from a fictional world. 

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About 45 minutes northwest of Armenia’s capital of Yerevan, you will find the village of Aghtsk (also written Aghdzk). As you drive through town and up the hill toward Tegheri Vank, a beautiful black stone, 13th century monastery, you will see a site known as Crystals of Refrain, one of the most elaborate installations in a long-running art project known as Kcymaerxthaere.

The work of artist Eames Demetrios, Kcymaerxthaere comprises a series of plaques and other markers around the world. Each of these markers honors an event that took place in a parallel universe, which, according to Demetrios, “co-exists to some degree with ours.” Most of the installations are bronze or stone plaques inscribed with stories but some are larger, even entire buildings. As of 2021, there are more than 140 sites spread across six continents and 30 countries.

According to the project’s lore, it was at this site that a Kcymaerxthaereal woman named Eliala Me-Ning saved a child known as the Boy from the Sea. A total of six sets of stones tell you the story of Eliala, a singer who had witnessed a terrible crime. Though she tried to hide, Eliala’s distinctive voice kept giving her away, so she lived a life on the run. Eventually she ended up staying with a community by the gorge here. When a flash flood raced through the gorge, putting a young boy in danger. Eliala sang so beautifully she crystalized the water into a soft pillowy stone that cushioned his fall.

This Kcymaerxthaere site overlooks the village and has a clear view of Mount Ararat (though the peak is often concealed). There are four main elements: an entry stone, the 12 stones with the stories, a spiral of stones, each of which represents one of Eliala Mei-Ning’s places of hiding, and the three red corners, as well as 281 cratered stones.

Know Before You Go

Pull over by side of road just up the hill from Aghtsk

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