Every time I see this statue I feel sorry that it’s not included in the main touristic programs, because it’s a great statue by a great master about a great epic hero!
So, who is David? He is definitely not the Biblical young shepherd fighting with Goliath inspiring Michelangelo to create his masterpiece. Our David was a shepherd too and he was fighting as well, but his battle was with the Arabs occupying Armenia.
Like the Biblical David, our David invoked inspiration too, which resonated long enough to be reflected in the Armenian epic poem called “Daredevils of Sasoun” coveyed orally by village bards for 1000 years. It was saved from oblivion in the 19th century by an Armenian bishop. Composed in different Armenian dialects, 50 in total, this folklore story has been translated in more than 20 languages, including French and Chinese.
In 1939, Armenia was celebrating the 1000th anniversary of this epic poem and Yervand Khochar, one of the most prominent Armenian artists, agreed to create the statue in a very short time — 18 days. Khochar, who had just repatriated to Armenia leaving the rich avant-garde community in Paris, had been exhibited there next to Picasso and other modernist pioneers. Two years later, he was accused of being “an enemy of the people” as his statue was looking at “our brother Turkey with a naked sword”. He was imprisoned and the statue was destroyed. The statue you see today was created in 1957 when he was again a renowned artist in Armenia. Interesting, right?