The decors under the cross, the stairs, the triangle, the rosette and palm decor
In khachkar compositions the central cross stands on a triangle-like element, or a stair-like element, or on rectangular hills, or arches, church structures, rosettes, or halfrosettes. From the bottom part, horizontal or vertical palm decors originate. Although the triangle is present in some examples dating to the 9-10th centuries, later on it did not receive wide diffusion. Research suggests that the triangle at the bottom of the cross had emphasized the special, holy status of the cross and implied Golgotha. The rosette, as a characteristic element of the khachkar composition, appears already in the early medieval ages, but assumed its steady position in khachkar composition only in the 11th century. The rosette and the stairs became almost rejecting each other, which indicates that both were in the symbolic field of Golgotha, although the stairs had an iconographical source - the stair-like column bases and stylobates of the early middle ages. In the end of the 13th century and in the 14th century the rosette with relief cylinder was separated from the palm decor and by that from the niche, and became a completely independent element. From the late 13th century the rosette receives salience and is crowned with a ribbon-like border - resembling a shield or a tray. The examination of the rosette and other associated decorative elements gives a basis to restore the extensive symbolism as a table for ceremony (sometimes only tray-table), world, semen, the paradise of Eden, Golgotha (sometimes depicted with the head of Adam), the paradise mountain of Revelation, sun, star, universe.
Beginning in the 11th century, the palm decor under the cross is situated on the rosette and in later compositions appears in four developments: vegetative, geometrical, snake and bird. In some compositions the cross stands on a coiled snake, symbolizing victory, or it is surrounded on two sides by snakes and symbolizes the defense of the garden-paradise (paradise-tree). The bird depiction of the palm decor on the one hand links to the palm tree as the tree of life and on the other hand to the rosette, as the ancient perceptions of the sun. In some compositions the palm decor is depicted as originating from the cross. Such a perception corresponds to the Christian notions of the cross as an all bearing tree. The idea of the cross being able to blossom served as a basis for the addition of small crosses on the two sides of the central cross. In some compositions the trimmings of the palm decoration are transforming into cross-bearing hands, which symbolize mortals waiting for the rescuing advent of the cross.