Photo by Attaleiv
The "church of the Holy Cross" was built on Aght'amar Island in Lake Van between the years 915 and 921 by the architect-monk Manuel under Armenian King Gagik Artzruni.
East Facade, Zone C - Figure 1
Part of the vine-scroll relief. An archer on horseback is looking back as he fires an arrow at a bear that is rearing up on its hind legs and grasping at the horse's flanks. The rider wears a tunic trimmed with a "Seljuk chain" pattern. He also wears a large helmet. His face has pronounced Mongolian features, such as a flattened nose, angular eyes, and a long moustache. The various details of the horse's fittings and bridle are clearly shown. There is a short section of grapevine to the left of the horse's head, containing two bunches of grapes. The carving of the vine stock appears to be unfinished.
There are obvious traces of structural damage to the upper south-east corner of the church. This section of the vine-scroll, containing the archer and the bear, has almost certainly been carved to replace a damaged section of the vine-scroll. The style of the carving differs from the rest of the scroll, as does the subject matter. It is similar to other Armenian sculpture from the 13th and 14th century. Also, the head of the archer projects above the level of the rest of the vine-scroll.