Akhtamar: The Armenian legend of the tragic romance between a princess and a man of humble origins
There is a romantic tale that has been passed down through generations about Akhtamar Island in Lake Van, which can be found in the Vaspurakan region of Western Armenia. It revolves around the doomed love between Princess Tamar, a noblewoman of Armenian descent, and a commoner who would swim to the island every night, guided by a light lit by Tamar. Unfortunately, their secret was discovered by Tamar’s father, who destroyed the light, leaving the boy stranded in the middle of the lake without any means of guidance. The boy’s dying cries of “Akh, Tamar…” (Oh, Tamar) can still be heard in the night, and it is from this legend that the island derives its name. To pay homage to this enduring tale, artist Rafael Petrosyan erected a statue on the shores of Lake Sevan, located along the highway north of Sevanavank.
It is worth noting that Zabelle Boyajian (1873-1957), a female Armenian artist, has left a rich legacy of illustrations depicting Armenian mythology and legendary tales, including one that portrays the story of Akhtamar.