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Interview with the head of the Yerevan branch of the NGO Research on Armenian Architecture, specialist of monuments Samvel Karapetyan.

-Mr. Karapetyan, the strivings of Azerbaijan appropriate foreign culture is not something new for us or for other nations of the region, but the latest publications have just reached to madness because looking for mohammedan or all the more Turkish traces is out of the limits of common sense. What are the aims of such ravings in your opinion?

-The word Azerbaijan and Azeri have only a history of 90 years, they came out only after 1918. The word Azerbaijan in fact is the deformed variant of Atrpatakan. The Azeri are the followers of Caucasian Tatars. Those nomadic tribes settled in the second half of the 19th century on demand of the czarist government. Constantly moving from one place to another the Caucasian Tatars caused a lot of trouble and the Russian government threatened to expel them from the borders of the empire if they didn’t settle down. There are various evidences about it. I will mention one of them; Russian researcher Meves published a series of articles concerned to the Caucasian Tatars. The researcher tells that it took him 2 hours to reach the village Bozaghanly by horse. There, as Meves mentions, lived the Caucasian Tatars. Meves has passed through completely deserted, bleak area and he hasn’t noticed any area in the horizon which would look like a village. When he had asked the guides when they would at last reach the village they had answered that they had already reached the place. They had shown Meves some holes in the deserted area saying that the villages were in their summer residences and when they came back they would set up tents on those holes. Let me remind you that those evidences have been published in 1865. Meves writes another notable elucidation connects with the Caucasian Tatars. The czarist government holds census in 1866, 1897 and 1914. The number of the Armenian population grows from one census to another and it is natural. The number of the population of the Caucasian Tatars decreases from one census to another. Let’s mention that there has been no war during that period, there has been no evacuation, and the natural growth of the population of the Caucasian Tatars was higher than that of the Armenians. What had really happened? Meves explains that the real number of the Caucasian Tatars was difficult to find out as they were counted in their summer residence for one time and in their winter camp for another time. When they settled, the information connected with their real number of population became more authentic. That is why in the census of 1914 the smallest number of the Caucasian Tatars was recorded which was closer to reality than the results of 1886 not taking into consideration the reality and the date of the census held in 1914.

-You said that the word Azerbaijan appeared in the history after 1918. Thus, the so- called culture of Azerbaijan has a history of 90 years, doesn’t it?

-We can consider the culture of their ancestors – the Caucasian Tatars also Azeri culture. If people are not settled, then we must speak about a tribe, not a nation. And a nomadic tribe cannot create material culture. The first cultural sample of the Caucasian Tatars dates since the late 19th century and the Azeri are the inheritors of that culture. So we are talking about a culture that has 150 years of history. The Azeri live next to the nations which have ancient and rich history: Armenians, Persians. They have stolen one part of the Armenian prehistoric land from us and they have stolen the name Atrpatakan from the Persians and today they have a problem of inventing fatherland and roots. And the only way to do it is inventing a history and appropriating cultural values. If you live on a land where you settled a century ago, on a land which is percolated through traces of 5-6 thousand years old history, then the idea of appropriating that culture becomes intent.

-Is it possible to appropriate a culture that doesn’t belong to you? Moreover, to appropriate the culture of an ancient history, so unsuitable for a nation that has a history of only one century. Is it possible to invent roots and fatherland for generations in this way? Is it possible to device the world?

-It’s impossible. In Azeri textbooks Persian Nizami and Firdusi are represented as Azeri writers. But besides the Azeri, no one in the world considers them Azeri; everyone knows that they are Persians. Just the nations of the region often waste efforts to refute the false information of the Azeri that they spread all over the world. It’s difficult to be indifferent when the nation that has settled just a century ago relates the Armenian Church, the Persian mosque or the Turkish mausoleum to itself. And it spreads such nonsense with a high print run all over the world. The Azeri lie is so evident that sometimes it’s not even worth responding.

-Mr. Karapetyan, what samples of Azeri culture are there on our land? I don’t mean in our historical fatherland, but the present day territory of Armenia and Artsakh.

-The earliest memorial of Azeri culture in the territory of Artsakh is a mosque built in 1868 in Aghdam. The mosque has belonged to the Caucasian Tatars. In the territories of present day Armenia, Artsakh and Azerbaijan, there are numerous samples of Muslim culture which are however Turkmenian cultural values and have nothing to do with the Caucasian Tatars. The Azeri try to inherit the Turkmenian and the Persian memorials dating from the 14th and 15th centuries, which are effects of completely other belief, other ideology such as the Persian mosque built in Gandzak in 1620 and the mosque in Shushi which is also Persian, the Turkmenian mausoleum built on the bank of the river Khachen or the mausoleum of Argavand built in the 14th century and so on.

By the way, while studying the Turkmenian mausoleums you distinctly notice the handwriting of Armenian constructors. The elaboration of the stone, the ornaments, the cross shaped plan and numerous other details are typical to the Christian cult architecture. For example the Turkmenian mausoleum built on the bank of the river Khachen (1314) has considerable relations with the three-storied St. Virgin Church and these are the works of the hands of the architect Shahik. We have every reason to assert that numerous Turkmenian mausoleums have been built with the hands of Armenian constructors with the ideology of Muslim religion on demand of the Turkmenians.

-Why are the Turkmenian and Persian graves sometimes surrounded by the Azeri graves?

-Nomadic tribes buried their deceased on the way of migration, wherever it happened to be. They took any stone they came across and without elaboration and inscription they raised it straight on the place where they had buried their deceased. After settling the Caucasian Tatars and subsequently the Azeri preserved that tradition. The Azeri have founded their graveyards around the Turkmenian, Persian graves in the 19th and 20th centuries with an interruption of several hundred years. It’s interesting that until 1940-50s you can discern notes with Arabian letters on Azeri graves though they had already taken the Russian letters. Besides, later we found out that they were written not only in Arabian letters, but were Arabian words as well. They created written language in the 20th century. To be impartial I will mention that the Azeri have tried to build mausoleums imitating them to Turkmenian mausoleums of 6 or 7 hundred years are standing till today while the Azeri mausoleums have decomposed and have been destroyed.

-How many mausoleums are there in our present day territory? And in what conditions are they?

-In Artsakh and in the world Utik there are about thirty standing mosques. They have been built in the end of the 19th century and mainly in the 20th century.

-How antique are the first traces of Armenian material culture in our historical fatherland and what cultural values do we have today in the present day territory of Azerbaijan?

-One of the oldest cultural memorials is Karahunj which has been built in the 5-6th millennium before Christ and in the present day territory of Azerbaijan there are many bridges, mills, springs, fortresses and so on.

Both in Turkey and Azerbaijan cultural slaughter was carried out towards the Armenians. With an arranged plan the Armenian cultural values were destroyed. If the Azeri brought forward the Aghvanian thesis and considered themselves descendants of Christian Aghvans and tried to appropriate the Armenian Christian cult culture, considering it Aghvanian, the Turks being devoid of the chance of Aghvanian hypothesis just set up a goal to destroy the Armenian ancient culture created in their own historical fatherland.

Moreover, it’s possible to diversify distinctly the spontaneous annihilation made by people and the destruction made on state level. In the first case we could see chapels, cross stones of churches, monasteries in the houses and yards of the natives while in the other case the stones were carried to other places and were mainly used for building barracks. It was profitable as the barracks are closed areas no tourist can see the traces of Armenian ornaments and crosses on the walls of the Turkish barracks. Only in Nakhijevan there were 218 churches in the 1980s while today everything is destroyed. Five thousand khachkars and tombstones were destroyed in Old Jugha. In the territory of present day Azerbaijan there are over 500 Armenian churches, chapels and monasteries. Thus, despite the unprecedented cultural genocide, traces of Armenian culture still exist in the whole territory of our historical fatherland up to this day.


Category: #10 (926) 15.03.2012 – 21.03.2012, Spiritual-Cultural, News, Spotlight