APA presents article entitled "Cemetery where Khiyabani's gravestone destroyed and Samad Behrangi's picture was stolen from gravestone" written by Mohammad Rahmanifar from the series of "Know South Azerbaijan" project
Historical cemeteries of South Azerbaijan are a manifestation of the ancient identity of this country. Today, historical cemeteries attract the attention of historians as well as anthropologists. For this reason, the preservation of old and historical cemeteries seems important as part of the efforts to take care of the historical and moral heritage of a nation.
Among the Turkic peoples, special importance and respect have been given to the graves of ancestors since the most ancient times. This habit of the old Turks drew the attention of Herodotus, who is known as the father of history. According to Herodotus, the queen of the Scythians replied to the Persian king Darius and said that if you destroy the tombs of our ancestors, you will receive a very harsh response from us.
So, once it was considered an unforgivable sin to desecrate the grave of our ancestors. It's a pity that in recent times, both in the north and in the south, there were those who made us experience these pains. Those who insulted the graves of our ancestors were not just trying to get rid of us. Another of their goals was to destroy our historical identity. Therefore, our enemies, who want to wipe us out from the face of the earth, did not spare the graves of our grandparents. Their intention was to erase the traces we left on our historical lands.
The graves of our ancestors, just like our own existence, are considered to be a sign that these lands belong to us, and one of the goals of our enemies was to destroy these facts. For example, it is impossible to find any traces of the cemetery of the martyrs of the Mashrut uprising (1906-1911) in Tabriz. Thus, during the reign of Reza Shah, in order to erase the memory of Mashruta martyrs from people's minds, they destroyed the cemetery of the Gajil neighborhood of Tabriz and built the current Gulustan garden in its place (the fate of other Mashruta heroes who were buried in the cemeteries of Khiyabani and other neighborhoods was the same and it is impossible to find a trace of them)!
The body of Mashruta hero, Milli Sardar Sattarkhan (1866-1914) was buried in Tehran's Shah Abdulazim Shrine. Even though it has been preserved to this day, the pitiful condition of his grave pains the heart of every Azerbaijani. Despite the repeated demands of Azerbaijani cultural figures from Tehran, the Iranian government did not allow the transportation of this tomb to Tabriz, nor the work to preserve it.
(This simple gravestone is the grave of Sattar Khan, who is considered the hero of freedom not only of Azerbaijan, but also of Iran!)
The state of the grave of another mashruta hero, who is also considered a symbol of freedom for South Azerbaijani Turks, is even more deplorable than the state of Sattarkhan's grave. Sheikh Mohammad Khiyabani (1879-1920) is an Azerbaijani hero who died for the freedom of both Iran and South Azerbaijan. The tomb of Sheikh Mohammad Khiyabani, whose funeral was the same as that of Sattarkhan, was vandalized under the pretext of construction. Despite the objections and wishes of cultural figures of South Azerbaijan, the grave was not allowed to be moved to Tabriz.
(The condition of the tomb of Sheikh Muhammad Khiyabani)
It is not only Sattarkhan's or Sheikh Muhammad Khiyabani's tomb that has been neglected or even destroyed. As we mentioned in the above lines, many historical cemeteries and graves of famous figures of South Azerbaijan were destroyed or neglected. For example, a picture painted on the grave of the world-famous writer of South Azerbaijan, Samad Behrangi, was taken.
(The picture above Samad Behrangi's grave was taken)
The graves of many South Azerbaijani contemporary writers, poets and cultural figures are vandalized or disrespected. Some tombstones are vandalized only because they are written in Azerbaijani Turkish.
In one of our previous posts, we wrote about what happened to the headstones in a historical cemetery called City Place. In this article, we will explain the situation of 3 other historical cemeteries. Although these cemeteries have been preserved to a certain extent, large parts have been vandalized knowingly or unknowingly.
A 4,000-year-old cemetery from the Iron Age in Tabriz
Located next to the historic Sky Mosque of Tabriz, this cemetery contains graves that are 3000-4000 years old. These graves were discovered while digging for the construction of a commercial complex around the Blue Mosque. Despite the serious protests of the people of Azerbaijan and cultural figures, unfortunately, the process of excavation and construction of the commercial complex was not stopped, and only a small part of the discovered magnificent historical complex was preserved and turned into a museum. A total of 38 graves buried in the form of fetuses in the mother's womb attracted attention in this historical cemetery.
It seems that most of them died young. The graves of infants are simple, and the graves of teenagers are square in shape and contain 2 pottery vessels. Children were buried with toys, women with jewelry, and men with weapons.
Pottery and food effects have been found near some of the bodies, which confirms their belief in Mithraism. It should be noted that the discovery of temples related to Mithraism in some regions of Southern Azerbaijan indicates that this belief was widespread in Azerbaijan in ancient times.
Some of the graves contain pottery that is believed to have belonged to wealthier people. It is clear from the objects buried next to the corpses that these people believed in life after death, perhaps in resurrection after death.
A 4,000-year-old cemetery from the Iron Age in Meshkinshaher (Khiyav).
In one of the previous posts, we presented Meshkinshahr's huge collection called City Place. In addition to the huge collection called Shaher Yeri, there is also a cemetery belonging to the Iron Age in the city of Meshkinshaher or Khiyav. In fact, there are many similarities between this cemetery and the Iron Age cemetery in Tabriz. For example, pottery and food dishes were buried with the dead in both cemeteries.
There are 11 graves belonging to the Iron Age in this historic cemetery near the village of Kizil Gaya. Gifts such as a bayonet, bronze dagger and gray pottery were found in one of the graves of this collection.
Pina-shalwar (Shadbad-i Mashayikh) cemetery in Tabriz
Pina-shalvar (Shadbad-i Mashayikh) cemetery is one of the old and historical cemeteries of Tabriz dating back to pre-Islamic times. Due to its location on the slope of Sahand Mountain, this cemetery has a cold winter climate and a relatively cool summer climate. Sahand Mountain has volcanic peaks. Although these days are considered inactive volcanic peaks, throughout history, the volcanic stones in this area have been used in various constructions in the past. In fact, what distinguishes this cemetery from other cemeteries are the stone menhirs built with the same stones. These menhirs are completely different from the Shaher Yeri menhirs of Southern Azerbaijan, which we introduced earlier, and are similar to the menhirs of the Khalid Nabi cemetery, a region inhabited by Turkmen located in the south-west of the Caspian Lake, within the borders of Iran.
(Shadbad-i Mashayikh cemetery in Tabriz)
(Menhirs of the Khalid Nabi cemetery in Southern Turkmenistan, which is considered another Turkic homeland, similar to the menhirs of Pina-shalwar cemetery of Tabriz)
(Shadbad-i Mashayikh cemetery in Tabriz)
Since there are no inscriptions on the ancient menhirs of this pre-Islamic cemetery, it is difficult to think about their essence. Of course, not all of the gravestones in this cemetery belong to the pre-Islamic period. Tombstones from the post-Islamic era generally have inscriptions in Kufic or Arabic script. It should be noted that the tombstones belonging to the post-Islamic period are completely different in appearance and have no similarity with the ancient menhirs located in the same cemetery.
It is known that several rulers, murshids and Sufis who passed away in the 13th-15th centuries were buried in this cemetery. Among them, we can mention Sultan Oweis, the son of Sheikh Hasan the Great, who was the second most famous sultan of the Jalairi rulers after his father.