ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. — The symbolic and mystic lands of Cilicia were brought to life for the Greater New York metro area by international photographer Hrair Hawk Khatcherian on Thursday, December 19, 2019, in an event sponsored by the Tekeyan Cultural Association.
An artist whose photographs vividly capture the Armenian history and heritage, Khatcherian has embarked on fruitful yet risky adventures over the last three decades to reach the heights of Armenia, Artsakh, Jerusalem and most currently Cilicia, in order to convey these rare images to the rest of the world.
While his Armenian culture connects him to the region, it was a book by Robert W. Edwards, The Fortifications of Armenian Cilicia, that inspired him to venture into Cilicia and commit himself to his latest publication of the once ancient Armenian Kingdom that is now in present-day Turkey. Within its pages, Edwards focuses on the analysis, topography and history of the forts in this significant Armenian settlement, whereas Khatcherian captures his audience through bold and colorful images, inviting a new audience to learn about Cilicia.
“This book is unique in the sense that it spans 22 years of constant travels, research and photography in Cilicia to access fortresses that are very difficult to receive permission to photograph,” said Khatcherian. His upcoming publication dedicated to Cilicia will be his 16th and will also include photos of Armenian coins minted by Armenian kings as well as maps and manuscripts of Cilicia printed throughout the centuries.
Sharing highlights from his photo collection of Cilicia during his video presentation, Khatcherian provided commentary on the challenges of photographing in the region, including the difficulties of reaching the fortresses and churches that are located atop mountains and in areas covered with forests and woods.
“In order to get the best shots, I take risks,” said Khatcherian, who hikes for hours to reach the fortresses, weighed down by two cameras while dodging snakes in slippery and wet weather. He has even endured rocks being pelted at him by locals due to his activity in the region. Nevertheless, he remains focused on his timely mission to photograph the fortresses before the Armenian inscriptions on the edifices are erased.