Vishapakar ‘Վիշապաքար’ on Mount Aragats
Vishapakars are dotted all across Armenia and the name translates to Dragon stone. It is the Armenian name for the Menhir which are also found in Scottland, Ireland, France, England and other European countries. Mostly where there has been a Celtic presence.
They are also spread across the historical provinces of Armenia such as Javakhk, Tayk, Taron, Van and so forth. the Vishapakars are tall cigar shaped megaliths and can usualy be found high on mountains near rivers and lakes, Said to be a warning to travels of the dragons that may be lurking nearby the water. The oldest of these type of Vishapakars are from around second millennium BC and give an incredible insight of the Armenian prehistoric tribes.
Many of them are carved as a fish although having a bulls head and feet carved into them, sometimes there is a stream of water flowing from the bulls mouth.
There are many different theories about the meanings of Vishapakars. One theory holds that these monuments represent mythological dragons gaurding the water (B. Piotrovski) Other theories trace back the megagaliths to Astghik, the Armenian Goddess of fertility, love and also water sources and springs. (M. Abeghian)
Another theory says it comes from a shared Indo-European legend. It speaks about the God of thunder and his foe the serpent. The victory of the Thunder God results in the origination of the cosmic waters (rain, seas, rivers) The Dragon Stones have certain aspects that may be related to this. The huge fish would represent the water serpent. The bull is the symbol for the thunder God in many cultures such as the Hurrian, Hittite, Greek and Armenian. The wavy lines below the bull’s head may be interpreted as rainy waters triggered by the battle between the god and the serpent.
Armenian paganism included a great deal of serpents and dragons, usualy depicted as evil creatures. One example is a legend talks about how Satenik, who was the wife of Artaxias I King of Armenia in 190 BC, left Artaxias for Argavan, a descendant of a race of dragons.