Armenia’s famous statue of Sasuntsi Davit (David of Sasun) on horseback is located at the Sasuntsi Davit Metro station on Tigran Mets Street in Yerevan. There is another statue to Sasuntsi Davit in Fresno, California.
In the centre of the square, surrounded by the Railway Workers’ Cultural Centre, a cinema and residential blocks, stands the statue of Davit Sasuntsi, a mythological hero of the Armenian folk epic poem. The sculptor was Yervand Kochar.
The image of Davit, who fearlessly defended his people from foreign invaders, is similar to that of the warriors in Russian folk legends. In 1939 many people in the Soviet Union celebrated the millennium of the legend of Davit Sasuntsi.
From generation to generation, from century to century, people have handed down tales of Davit’s deeds, his gigantic strength. The episode of the crucial battle when Davit, unwilling to shed the blood of the enemy soldiers, challenged their leader Msyrmelik, ruler of the Arab caliphate of Msyr, to a duel and defeated him, is particularly enthralling.
The warrior-like figure of Davit Sasuntsi astride his faithful steed Dzhalali embodies the freedom-loving aspirations of the Armenian people over many centuries. His hands hold his sword of lighting, ever ready to repel invaders; water flows from the bowl above the pedestal, signifying that when the cup of the people’s patience overflows, there is no quarter for oppressors and enslavers.
Much has been written about the statue of Davit Sasuntsi. Since the time of its unveiling in 1959, it has travelled the whole planet over, depicted on postcards and magazine covers, in booklets, photographs, and illustrations to books and travel guides. It has become a symbol of the Armenian people’s love of freedom and of their capital, Yerevan.
Vasily Grossman wrote the following when he encountered the statue upon disembarking a train from Moscow:
“ I saw a large square in front of the station, and a huge half-naked young man on a bronze horse. His sword was drawn, and I realized this must be David of Sasun. I was struck by the power of this statue: David himself, his steed, his sword–everything was huge, full of movement and strength.
I looked around the square, glancing up at the magnificent monument… The power of David and his steed, the movement captured in the bronze–suddenly all this seemed too much. It was not a legend realized in bronze but a bronze advertisement for a legend”.