Crystals of Refrain

  • Linear Location

    Aghtsk, Armenia (40°19'15"N 44°15'10"E)


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Pull over by side of road just up the hill from Aghtsk.

Public Dedication

What it says on the stones

The part of the Kcymaerxthaere stories installed here:

Crystals of Refrain

In Kcymaerxthaereal times, Eliala Mei-Ning, the singer whose voice was too beautiful to be concealed, was walking in the gorge one day when she heard a sound—the distinctive sound of a kind of flash flood pouring from another dimension of existence into her own. As she started to climb out—for there was plenty of time—she heard a cry, the cry of a boy caught in the torrent. She could not let him drown, but there was no way to reach him. So she did what only she could do—she sang with such beauty, with so much the essence of her very story, that as the water sloshed over the rim of the gorge it crystallized into temporarily gentle stone. And so, crystals and boy came to a stop here where he was safe—though she no longer was.

The boy the singer saved at this place was someone we know today as the Boy from the Sea—but he did have a name: Gnel Wrangor —and he lived in the north of what we call Spain, by a perfect beach. He was very good at making sand castles, more than castles: cities. In fact, he would be so intent on his daily metropolis, that his mother would always remind him to keep an eye on the ocean—but he never would. The realms grew more and more vast. He loved to stand above and imagine their histories. On the day he landed here, a huge wave came from nowhere, imminent—he looked, but he was too far from the high ground. So he did the only thing he could—he dove into the sand castle itself to hide, but still the water came. So he dove between the grains of sand themselves and was swept into the ferylemt—a quality of existence as different from Time and space as they are from each other.

Eliala arrived here from her 196,418th place of refuge. Raised in Shagree—far to what we think of as the East, she was the singer with the voice too beautiful to be concealed. Even if you had never heard her voice yourself, the moment you did, you knew it could only be her. One evening, returning home, she was the only witness to the murder of the man Li Thaat by thugs from the Puhnee. The authorities took her to a place of hiding but, after a time, she needed to sing. Alas, the window was open and everyone soon knew just where she was. That was the first 1st place that she hid. Then she hid at the second 1st place—and the same thing happened. And after that: the 2nd place, and then the 3rd, and after that: the 5th, the 8th, then the 13th and so on. Here by the gorge was her 317,811th place of refuge and, revealed, she had to leave here too. Quickly she took the still dazed boy to an older bÓrnhærd couple who had never been able to have children— as he followed, the boy was silent, thinking only that his mother would never forgive him.

Eliala Mei-Ning’s story is almost invariably depicted with a spiral, because her path took that form—but not a spiral in space, almost a spiral in time, but more truly a spiral in Ferylemt, whose by-ways Eliala traveled. Each refuge with its own story: the 6 lines of Verdó, the unplaceable populism of 17711, the pleasure of Wendaentz, the little fisherman, Thaat’s funeral at 5, the Bar Sinister’s triumph at 233 (followed by the healing kindnesses of the polyhaedra), her first gnacien, fondness of lichen, echoed aromas, danger of the Boneyar, discomfort of Stelge, majesty of [Lar/ar], and, importantly, a meeting with the Boy from the Sea when he was a young father and another when he was an old man—all before she saved him as a child, before her song turned a torrent into stone, into Crystals of Refrain.

After Eliala left the Boy from the Sea with the couple, she fled and, indeed, the Puhnee arrived soon after—ominously, closer and closer on her heels. Eliala was on the way to pSegolene, the place almost impossible to reach, but from there, only a stone’s throw to anywhere else. There Nobunaga-Ventreven found her, essential to the fate of the xthaere. The Boy from the Sea—for that is what he was always called (even after he learned the language, the startling, angled smell of the sea he brought with him lingered longer still)—was cherished here. But, painting his mother with his own self-reproach, he never imagined the quite timeless banner threads she forgivingly wove to hail him. Indeed, he was teasingly called 20—after the symbol that his path home resembled:

If you think on the numbers of this place of refuge and rescue, traditional representations are easily found: the 3 red corners, 13 worded stones, even the count of rocks in the spiral. But where are the 281? Tradition says that all 4 numbers could be found within the impact field bounded by the 3 red corners and a point just beyond the other mirrored pair of stones. In her last years, the youngest daughter of the last surviving witness to the formation keen of the Crystals of Refrain is said to have summoned here all her children and their children and their children’s children. Remembering her father’s stories of the surging crystals, their smooth faces so briefly argil as the tumbling and flailing marine polyhaedra gouged into 281 of the crystalline shapes, she pointed out all but 2 of the 281 cratered stones. That was so long ago we do not know if they were the crystals themselves or their ghosts—but it was the last time anyone saw all 281 (for she had indeed glimpsed the other two).

Story Stones 1 and 2

The Complete Story of Eliala Mei-Ning is on these stones. Here’s the first part.


Story Stone #1.

Story Stone #1 text (English).

Story Stone #1 text (Armenian).

Story Stone #2.

Story Stone #2 text (English).

Story Stone #2 text (Armenian).

Story Stones 3 and 4

The Complete Story of Eliala Mei-Ning is on these stones. Here’s the second part.

Story Stone #3.

Story Stone #3 text (English).

Story Stone #3 text (Armenian).

Story Stone #4.

Story Stone #4 text (English).

Story Stone #4 text (Armenian).

Story Stones 5 and 6

The Complete Story of Eliala Mei-Ning is on these stones. Here’s the third part.

Story Stone #5.

Story Stone #5 text (English).

Story Stone #5 text (Armenian).

Story Stone #6.

Story Stone #6 text (English).

Story Stone #6 text (Armenian).

3 Red Corner Stones

These 3 massive red stones mark the corners of the installation.


High angle of all 3 corner stones.

One of the corner stones.

Another corner stone.

The third corner stone.

29 Spiral Stones

Some examples of the Spiral Stones.


Close-up of “987” spiral stone.

Spiral stone in foreground, and red corner stone in back.

Spiral stone in foreground, and red corner stone (and Aghstk landscape) in back.

“514229” spiral stone detail.

Spiral stone and neighboring story stones.

281 Polyhaedra Scars

Some examples of the Polyhaedra scars.


Polyhaedra Scar, as seen in the foreground.

Another example of a Polyhaedra Scar.

Polyhaedra Scar in the foreground, red corner stones in back.


Photos illustrating the various phases of the installation process.


Unloading one of the engraved stones from a truck by crane.

Easing an engraved stone into place while suspended by the crane.

Removing the hoist strap from an engraved stone.

Laying a base stone in place.

Readying a base stone with mortar before placing an engraved stone atop it.

Hoisting one of the massive red corner stones into position with the crane.

Fine-tuning the position of one of the red corner stones.

Hand-carving one of the many inscriptions into one of the polished stones at the site.


A look at the process of preparations that were made for the engraved stones at the site.


Stone slab ready for cutting.

Cutting a stone slab with the wet saw.

Laying out the lettering in preparation for engraving the stone.

Several of the completed stone engravings ready for installation at the Crystals of Refrain site.

Painting By Armen Atayan

Armenian painter Armen Atayan painted a canvas portraying the Crystals of Refrain installation, which was later made into a limited edition of signed artist prints. Here you can see the artist at work.

Preliminary visualization of the scene as a sketch on paper.

Painting the Crystals of Refrain site against the ruggedly-beautiful Aghstk landscape, with a pair of large red corner stones featured in the foreground.

Like the stories of Kcymaerxthaere, the portrayal of the scene calls for an ever-evolving palette of color.

Admiring the finished piece.

One of the limited-edition artist-signed giclée prints made from the original painting, available in our web store.

Related Stories

The Boy from the Sea

Eliala Mei-Ning