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Armenian Nshkhar

By Father Simeon Odabashian, New York Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, His Eminence Archbishop, Khajag Barsamian, Primate.

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The Making of the Communion Bread or Nuskhar

        According to the tradition of the Armenian Church the Communion bread (host or wafer) called Nushkhar is made with flour and water only. Typically the celebrant of the Divine Liturgy prepares the nushkhar, usually six in number, either the day before or on the day of the liturgy. The nushkhar is a flat wafer, whose diameter is about 2.5 inches.

        The preparer of the bread begins by saying the Lord's prayer and during the process recites psalms. He mixes a sufficient amount of flour and water to create a simple dough ball, which is allowed to rest for a few minutes with a glass over it to prevent drying.

        Then the priest rolls out the dough to an approximately 1/8 inch thickness. With a cookie cutter or glass having the same diameter as the nushkhar stamp he cuts out as many circles as possible. The remaining dough is made into a ball and is again placed under a glass (to be rolled out again for additional wafers).

        He then takes each circle of dough and affixes it to the stamp and applies equal pressure to insure that the imprint will be clear and even. Prior to this a small amount of flour may be sprinkled on the dough to prevent it from sticking to the stamp.

        While the dough is still on the stamp, he pierces the entire back of the dough with a fork. This act has two purposes: Symbolically we remember the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ and practically piercing the dough prevents the formation of bubbles during the cooking process.

        The nushkhars may be cooked (always print side up) either on a tray in a pre-heated oven or on a preheated frying pan on the stove. In either case they are cooked with low heat and at the slightest sign of browning they are ready. Cooked nushkhars may be wrapped in aluminum foil to preserve freshness. Some prefer to make a larger number for distribution on feast days in which case it is permissible to freeze the supply.

        The nushkhar  stamp is usually carved out of wood although recently attempts at making the stamps out of synthetic materials have been made successfully. The stamp is carved with the crucifixion, with grains of wheat and bunches of grapes, as well as the Armenian initials of Jesus Christ (JS CT). It is customary to distribute unconsecrated nushhars to the faithful on Theophany and Easter in which cases they may be made with special stamps carved with the nativity or resurrection scene.

        At the beginning of the Divine Liturgy the deacon presents the nushkhars on a tray to the celebrant who chooses the most perfect one for consecration. If a larger number of communicants is anticipated, he may use more than one.

        Finally, when a priest is called to bless a home he presents the family with an unconsecrated nushkhar, which is kept in the house as a sign of the blessing. Often it is placed in a rice or flour jar. It is also customary for the priest to place a nushkhar on the chest of the deceased at the time of the wake service.



Many thanks to Fr. Simeon for this article.




from another website...

"Mass" Antidoron is a very thin bread and is                     "Nushkhar" is a wafer prepared by the priest in              "Matrix" is a round template with carvings

placed on the Holy Altar and blessed by the                        a solemn way and is used for the Divine Liturgy.              generally of Jesus Christ or other symbols 

priest. It is distributed to the faithful who have                    It has the stamp of the cross, the lamb or other                  and is used to stamp the "Nushkhar".

not taken Holy Communion that day.                                     symbols.