Chanting Stones: Karahunj – 5th Armenian Rose Float

Music has the unique power to bring us together, while taking us back to the memories and moments of theContinue Reading

Music has the unique power to bring us together, while taking us back to the memories and moments of the past. The 130th Tournament of Roses Parade themed “The Melody of Life” celebrates the language of music.  The power of music as a universal language unites and inspires us, becoming the tunes of our lives.

This year, the American Armenian Rose Float participates for the 5th time and the float is absolutely amazing! Music is a staple of Armenian culture with origins from the Armenian Highlands, the float is exquisite with endless references to Armenian culture, musical history and dance!

2018 was a monumental year for Armenian and Armenian’s worldwide, with new leadership and the Velvet Revolution, the “melody of life” could also represent the sequence of event that unite, inspire and empower us.

Titled KARAHUNJ, Chanting Stones: Karahunj, the float is impressive at over 20 feet tall! We had the opportunity to see the float and learn about its design and endless symbolic elements, including Khaz, the Armenian music notation system which dates from the 9th Century.

The impressive staple of the float is the YARKHUSHTA dance….

Yarkhushta (Armenian: Յարխուշտա, pronounced [jɑɾχuʃtɑ]) is an Armenian folk and martial dance[1] associated with the highlands of the historical region of Sassoun in Western Armenia.[2][3][4] Yarkhushta belongs to a wider category of Armenian “clap dances” (ծափ-պարեր, tsap parer).[5] The dance is performed by men, who face each other in pairs. The key element of the dance is a forward movement when participants rapidly approach one another and vigorously clap onto the palms of hands of dancers in the opposite row.

The tune of the dance is played intentionally very loudly by two zurna-horn-pipes and one or more double-headed bass drums, each struck with a mallet and a stick from opposite sides of the drum’s cylinder.

It has been demonstrated that the combination of zurna’s high-frequency tone and the bass drums’ deep, low-frequency beat create a combination of sounds with wide peak-to-peak amplitude that is capable of placing the dancers in the state of euphoric trance. This factor amplifies the effect of adrenaline/epinephrine rush that the dancing of yarkhushta usually produces.[7]

KARAHUNJKarahunk 2

The name Carahunge is interpreted as deriving from two Armenian words: car (or kar) (Armenian: քար), meaning stone, and hunge or hoonch (Armenian: հունչ), meaning sound. Thus the name Carahunge means Speaking Stones.

This interpretation is related to the fact that the stones make whistling sounds on a windy day, presumably because of multiple reach-through holes bored under different angles into the stones in prehistoric times.

The Carahunge site is located on a rocky promontory near Sisianin Syunik Province at the south of Armenia


Khaz (Armenian: խազ) is an Armenian neume, one of a set of special signs (plural: khaz or khazes) constituting the traditional system of musical notation that has been used to transcribe religious Armenian music since the 8th century

Khaz is the Armenian music notation system which dates from the 9th Century. The system uses neumatic signs, without traditional musical lines, placed over the liturgical texts, allowing free variation within a prescribed modal structure. Every sign of the Khaz notation, plus or minus 25 neumes and 12 Armenian consonants, denotes the rising and falling direction of the standard melodic motifs, as well as rhythmic and even expressive details of the manner of performance.



The duduk (/duːˈduːk/ doo-DOOKArmenian: դուդուկ IPA: [duˈduk])[1] is an ancient double reed woodwind instrument made of apricot wood. It is indigenous to Armenia  It is commonly played in pairs: while the first player plays the song, the second plays a steady drone called dum, and the sound of the two instruments together creates a richer, more haunting sound.

Surrounding the float are gorgeous APRICOT trees.

Apricots are the fruit of Armenia. Even its scientific name, Prunus Armeniaca, or Armenian prunes, honors that fact. Recently, apricot cores excavated from the ancient Armenian village of Garni support the theory that Armenians have been cultivating apricots for over 3,000 years. The apricot has been the symbol of nationality and victory for Armenians for many centuries. In the Middle Ages, Armenian kings and knights would go to battle wearing apricot-colored ornaments called “tsirani.”


The Armenian mouflon also known as the Armenian sheep,[1] Armenian wild sheep,[4][5] Armenian red sheepis an endangered subspecies of mouflon endemic to Armenia. The Armenian Mouflon (Ovis gmelini gmelini), also called the Anatolian Mouflon and Gmelin Sheep, is native to Armenia. Regarded by many authorities as the probable ancestor of the European mouflon and the domestic sheep, the Armenian Mouflon Sheep has been introduced on private properties in many parts of the world. The Armenian Mouflon male’s horns are supra-cervical, curving above and behind the neck. Female Armenian Mouflon are considerably smaller than males and may or may not grow horns.


The float is exceptional with volunteers from all over the country coming volunteer. This year, the float will be ridden by some of the 600 dedicated community volunteers who work on the float. We love seeing the community come together!

Given the considerable cost of materials and construction of the float, the AARFA is appealing for generous grassroots community support. Tax-deductible donations can be made online at www.aarfa.org/fundrasing.

AIWA-SF: The Armenian International Women’s Association is a dynamic global 501(c)3 dedicated to empowerment, education and enrichment. Through many projects and initiatives,  AIWA is dedicated to enriching social, economic and personal advancement of Armenian women worldwide through educational and other community activities that promote gender equity, and emphasize our Armenian cultural heritage.   To learn more about AIWA, please visit http://www.aiwainternational.org.

To get involved with the AIWA-SF affiliate, please visit http://www.aiwasanfrancisco.com or send an email to aiwasanfrancisco@gmail.com. We are grateful for all donations. To help us promote progress, contributions can be mailed to: AIWA-SF 15559 Union Ave #227 Los Gatos CA 95032

1 comment on “Chanting Stones: Karahunj – 5th Armenian Rose Float

  1. Magnificent explanation.

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