Day 3: we continued our trip through the villages of Martuni region in Artsakh.
Early in the morning, we went to the Kusaberd fortress (Aghjka berd).
Muslims replaced the names of this place (Berdashen, Kusaberd) according to their language. The place was also called Karaqend, Ghzghala, but they all have the same origin. These foreign names come from the words “ghala” or “kala”, which are the translation of Armenian word “berd” (fortress). Ghzghala or Kzkala mean Aghjka berd (Girl’s Fortress). While the Karaqend is the transformed version of Kalaqend, which means Berdashen.
The Legend of Aghjka Berd
In 3 km from the village, in the northern part, there is a mountain, which the locals still call the Girl’s fortress. There is a legend about the origin of Aghjka Berd.
In ancient times, a girl lived here, proud as Armenian mountains, glorious as the deer from the virgin forests of Artsakh, bold and brave. She was in love with a brave man who was infinitely devoted to her. However, during the battles with the enemy, the young man dies. The girl grieves for a long time and vows to remain faithful to her beloved. Years go by. The fame of the girl’s beauty reaches all corners of the earth.
One of her foreign admirers decides to conquer the girl with power. The girl climbs to the top of the fortress, builds a castle and takes shelter there. Armenian brave soldiers protect her. However, the enemy does not plan to retreat. He deprives the fortress of water hoping that the girl will surrender, unable to resist thirst. However, the brave girl remains faithful to her lover and throws herself out from the fortress into the bottomless gorge. People say that the springs that flow at the foot of Berdasar originated on the place where the girl fell. Since that time, the rocky mountain is called Aghjka Berd (Girl’s fortress).
As a result of the studies, many working tools, household items, ornaments, cross stones and weapons were found here.
The traveler of the 19th century Haykuni, who traveled through Artsakh, says that the villagers convinced him that it is impossible to climb this rock; it is accessible only to birds. There are so many snakes there, that one look at them is already deadly. However, Haykuni easily climbs to the fortress and proves that these stories are not true.
He said that he found the ruins of defensive walls, several houses and one large water basin.
No matter how closely we looked, we could not find any remnants from the fortress.
After exploring Aghjka Berd we moved to Berdashen. This is one of the villages of Martuni region. The first man that we met in the village told us that he has a very interesting sword in his house that he wants to show us. He said that his grandfather was one of Zoravar Andranik’s soldiers and the sword belonged to him. On our way to his house, he told us that he is going to sell the sword. When we asked him about the price, he said that he is going to sell it for $185 000. At first, we thought that he was joking, but he explained that the sword is 185 years old and he estimates each year at 1000$.
The sword actually turned out to be a silver dagger. From its handle, it was clear that it was probably designed for women. It was a very beautiful dagger, but with the price of $185 000 it will remain without a buyer. In the end, the owner of the dagger told me that if I sell it, he would give me a soviet car. Therefore, if anyone wants a dagger, contact me, the price is very good.
The road leads from the village to another hill, where the monument of the Second World War is located. Traces of the Artsakh war are visible on the monument. The Berdashen Museum operates at the base of the monument. Unfortunately, the museum was in a very bed condition.
The remnants found in Aghjka Berd, were displayed behind cracked glasses. If these remnants will be kept in such conditions, then they are not going to have a long life.
Another village in the Martuni region is Hatsin. Village Hatsin is located northwest of Martuni. It has a very beautiful and mountainous position, surrounded with gardens and dense forests. Hatsin is one of the historically significant villages.
In Ghazaros Aghayan’s fairy tale “Anahit”, the village is mentioned as Hatsik. The story of the meeting between King Vachagan Barepasht and the shepherd’s daughter Anahit is associated with this village. The spring near which they met, now has a name “The spring of Anahit”.
There are historical monuments in the village and its surroundings. The most notable of them is Bri Eghtsin, which we also managed to see during our trip through the villages of Martuni.
P. S. We returned to Yerevan having a piece of Artsakh in our hearts. The next day I got a call from the grandchild of a woman who gave us shelter in Gishi village. He was not at home when we were there. After they told him about us, he decided to invite us to their house, but unfortunately, we have already returned to Yerevan. He gave us his number and said that we are welcomed in Gishi at any time. Such are the villages of Martuni and the Artsakh people.
Photos by Babken Arzumanyan, Gayane Tonoyan, Hripsime Abrahamyan, Tigran Shahbazyan
Text by Tigran Shahbazyan
Literature: Sergey Melqumyan, Haykuni and Shahen Mkrtchyan
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