Travel essays by Archimandrite Garegin Srvandztyants

Toros Ahpar, Armenia Travel Guide.


Travel essays by Archimandrite Garegin Srvandztyants.


Annex to the 1st issue of Volume IX of the News of the Caucasian Department of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society. Tiflis, 1887


At the end of May 1879:

Harput Valley is divided into two parts:

  1. The first part is called Ulava with the monastery Sorsur,
  2. Guzova with the Gule monastery…

Already 10 years as Mezra* (also called Mamuretul Aziz, p. 17.), an hour from the town Harput, became the control center for convenience … p.13.

Lands are mostly owned by the Beys, who, with few exceptions, have a deed on their own name. Harput beys and farmers were utter vassals and were considered ancient “Ojahs” and “Vujuhs”, while farmers were their utter slaves. P. 15.

Harput, being in the center of Dersim – from a town turned into a vilayet … p.18.

In the Harput area there are four monasteries, of which three are located in Ulova and are called after the nearest villages.

  1. A) Monastery Sorsura – near the village of the same name, Mezre hour drive from it.
  2. B) M. Datem – near with village Datem (there is a legend that the apostle Thaddeus built it). P. 18.
  3. B) M. Zardarich and Ichme, rich in water.
  4. D) M. Gule, near the village Gule, in Guz-ov. P.19

Chemishkezek (Chimsh-gazek) or Desrim … p. 22

Euphrates – the border of Harput with Dersim.

In Charsanjak

Pashavank village, property of Isak-bey. There was more than 80 Armenian houses in that village: houses, lands, gardens, forests and mountains entirely belonged to the bek, and he could drive them out of there one minute, or give what belong to one to another. Armenian village Vaskert (Baskird) – belonged to Kyuchuk aga … p.27

… we arrived at the Armenian church and rested on the roof … p. 27.

The main bek of Charsanjak is Isaac Bey, who has 36 villages and mezre … Local Beys transferred all land documents (deeds) to their name .. Agas and beys want their villages to have churches and priests, so that their maraba would not move to others agas … p. 28 …

Dersimians, known everywhere for predators, for fear of the beys, are not able to harm the inhabitants of Charsanjak. P. 28





Dersim is divided into two parts. One part is made up of the mountains Munzur, called Dudjik-baba-Dag. In this part is the mountain valley Ovacik, covered with vegetation and abundant with water. The other part is the real Dersim, which stretches towards Kegi, Derjan and Erzincan and where Huzulcan lies (on the maps: Kozlichan). Some divide Dersim into three parts, separating Mesur-Dag from Tujik.

The remarkable Kurdish clans of Ovacik or Tujik, called “Ashiratas”(tribes): Sheiks Hasans, Pilvanks, Harabalıs, Abasyans, Kochushagı, Bazkaranlar (well-known bandits Hir-Ushagi and Topur-Ushagi  belongs to this clan), Kav-Ushagians, Sham-Ushagians, Bahtiarians, Yyrutanians, Sheiks, Hyrcanians, etc.

The wonderful clans living in Dersim: Jibranians, Suranians, Alanians, Areans, Gureshanians, Shehmahmadians, Gaidaranians, Demanians, Yusufanians, Lulanians, Shatians, Izoglunians, Kranians, etc. Also considered remarkable: Kochar-Ushagi, Bezkar-Ushagi, Aslan-Ushagi, Brim-Ushagi, Bet-Ushagi and so on.

The river Mesur-su divides Dersim from Dujhik. The mountains are completely covered with forests and carved by ravines and valleys. Kurdish dwellings built from the forest. Kurds have a lot of sheep, cows and mules. Access ia possible either on foot, or riding mules, as the roads are everywhere with the intention of being damaged and you have to go through forests, rocks, then going down, then going up. The local Kurds speak the dialect “Zaza” and profess the Qizilbash faith. Their prophet is Azrat-Aliy, who at the same time is considered an apostle and a saint. They have spiritual faces and spiritual leaders, the clan, which is considered sacred and they are called seids and dede. A traveler, accompanied by a seid, can safely bypass all this terrain; this is what many do. Seids are known everywhere, they have their parishioners, from whom they receive for their religious rites known profit. They do not have books, but they know how to give moral instruction to people and, during the annual holidays, at a public gathering, they perform a communion-like rite, handing out bread and wine,which are in separate vessels, to the crowd. At the same time, the seid publicly condemns the sinner and demands a promise not to sin anymore, and then he leaves on his conscience to go and take communion. But there are such non-repentant sinners, whom the seid deprives of the sacrament; he ceases to visit such people and orders the society to stop all intercourse with such people and not to eat their bread. They protect the sanctity of marriage very jealousy. Although they do not have a special chapel, but over the graves of the saint dede, the sheds built and prayers were appointed there. People go to these places to worship. Often, they also go to worship in Armenian churches, touch the stones, light incense, candles, sacrifice, make them read the Gospel over the sick and kiss it reverently. Church robes and utensils they steal, but are kiss the Gospel. They have no a custom of a divorce and polygamy is a rare exception.

Of the many monasteries located in this area, only one monastery Halvari survived. It is located 18 hours from Peri, in the direction to Erzingian and close to Chimishkatsak. The monastery is surrounded by forests. Kurds live around. For a long time, an Armenian family lives in the monastery, of whose members its prior is always appointed. In our time, the prior was Pogos, whos family consisted of 65 people. Said Ibrahim is considered the owner or aga of the monastery, and the monastery gives 30 kilos of wheat each year (1 kilo contain 100 oka).

In Palu, almost all the land belonged to beys and agas and the tapu was transferred to their name … c. 39. Hardly one hundredth of the land belonged to the Armenians, and then this is under the manor and gardens. p. 39

The entire province Palu comprises 460 villages, of which 30 are considered waqfs: a tenth of their works goes to sheikhs and mosques. The main bey is considered to be Sadyh-bey, a very courteous man. It is necessary to give justice to local beys: they are not as hard-hearted as the beks of Charsanjak, that’s why the population is not so servile to them, although even here all the land duties are carried out by the villagers, the landowner is considered to be the bey. The villagers plow, sow and clean the bread at their own expense, and, after they pay one tenth of the harvest to the government, the rest of the amount one part they leave to themself, and one and a half give to bey. There are places where a peasant takes eight out of ten parts to himself, and gives two to Bey.

With the exception of landowners, the Kurds of Zaza, from the Nahians, also live there; Bulanha and Kogtara, from Ashirat: Izol, Cran, Shate, Zakan and Kurumians, Magaranians, Uzovians, Payantians, Ayraniherenians, Kozerenians, Piadanians, Karorians, Totiians, Agmezreians, Kosakoprunians, Alhateians, Balhaeninas, Oshinians and others.

Turks, as well as Kurds-Zaza and Kurmanji live in separate villages, or mixed with the Armenians. Kurds are more numerous, they speak the language of the Dercimians and confess their religion.

Town Argana.

This Argana, an ancient city with an ancient fortress, is gradually declining. Several ancient and famous Turkish and Kurdish clans who have a bad reputation lives in it.

Town Egil (Avil).

The town it represents a strong fortress built on the rocks. Fortress towers and grave caves excite an interest. They show a lot of graves belonging to great people. There are also two blackened caves, which in their form give reason to think that they served as a pagan temples. This inaccessible place was a repository of not only tombs, but also treasure and utensils. Who, then, were its ancient inhabitants? Neither our ancient history nor the newest information says anything about this.


The present inhabitants of Egil, the beks, are not distinguished by their clean morals; speak the Zaza dialect. They constitute an ulcer for the locals; this we know not only by hearsay, but have seen with our own eyes both theirs and their deeds.

Mezra* – hamlet

We thank Kurdish Historian Mr Latif Bruki suppliying this document


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