Hussenig. Furniture makers (marangoz) in their workshop. Center, standing, Garabed Nadjarian (Source: Aharonian, op. cit.)

Harput - Trades

Author: Vahé Tachjian, 14/04/2012 (Last modified 14/04/2012)- Translator: Nayiri Arzoumanian

Many agricultural traditions in the Harput/Kharpert region are probably as old as the long-standing Armenian presence in its villages. Certain methods of grinding and crushing wheat, spinning cotton, and weaving date back centuries. Relatively newer agricultural knowledge, like silkworm culture, was later acquired and rapidly spread through certain villages of Harput. A quick survey leaves the impression that the crafts in Harput were intricately connected with what the cultivated land of the region could produce. These crafts came to address, first and foremost, the villagers' domestic needs, like the preparation of bread, bulgur, and clothing.

Yet, it is clear that the locals advanced their expertise in these crafts which were passed on from generation to generation explaining why their products were in such high demand in the markets of the region—most importantly in the cities of Harput and Mezire (Mamuretül-aziz). Production in this region included items that could be traded and sold. In addition to excelling in agricultural production, the villagers were distinguished cobblers, masons, and engineers. Such craftsmen were present in most villages of the Harput plain, and the villagers were renowned for their work. Shoes produced in the villages were sold in faraway markets, and the masons and engineers of the villages were often invited to nearby cities to take part in the construction work.

A view of Harput (town). The Euphrates College buildings can be seen in upper part (Source: Hourig Zakarian collection)

Needless to say, the city of Harput itself—having been surrounded by such productive villages—was a formidable center of crafts. For a long time, the city stood as the main market for the villagers, who came to primarily purchase agricultural tools. Beginning in the second half of the 19th century, however, Harput ceded its central role in the region’s trade to Mezire, which was declared by the Ottoman authorities as the province’s center and renamed Mamuretül-aziz. This newly ordained center for trade experienced rapid development, population growth, and great economic prosperity.

Harput and Mezire were two neighboring cities that operated as regional hubs for crafts. Until World War I and the deportations and massacres of the Armenians, the crafts of the region were primarily in Armenian hands. Both centers stood out with their industrial dynamism. As the example below illustrates, the craftsmen of Harput and Mezire had creative minds, which contributed to the further development of their productivity. After all, the master craftsmen of Harput succeeded, despite the material limitations, in establishing factories and giving industrial scope to their productivity. The existence of silk, cotton, and iron factories were not accidental, and attest to the multi-faceted skills of the craftsmen.

A view from the Upper Quarter of Harput (Source: Hourig Zakarian collection)
A view from the Upper Quarter of Harput (Source: Hourig Zakarian collection)

It is worth delving further into this phenomenon: What accounts for the outstanding talent of the Armenian craftsmen of Harput? Undoubtedly, one explaining factor is the centuries-old experience that Harput Armenians had acquired in certain crafts. Weaving, for example, was considered the expertise of the local Assyrians. It is likely that their mastery was the legacy of centuries-old traditions of weaving. The same can be said about the crafts of the Armenian masters. And beginning in the late-19th century, a new dimension - emigration - was added to this. Social, economic, and political factors compelled many Harput Armenians, especially men, to leave their native city or village and settle in the more prosperous Ottoman cities like Istanbul or Adana. The skilled locals were essentially looking for a more conducive environment to work and make a living. In their native villages, the reign of the local beys and aghas, as well as the absence of state structures, had often given way to injustices and abuses, and the main victims of these actions had been Harput’s Armenian farmers and craftsmen. The Harput Armenian thus moved to cities that were developing faster, hoping that the more palpable presence of the Ottoman central authorities in those metropolises would better shield him against injustices.

Hussenig. A fabric factory (Source: Aharonian, op. cit.)
Hussenig. A fabric factory (Source: Aharonian, op. cit.)

Later, waves of emigration drove Harput Armenians to the United States, where most started working in industrial cities. Emigration's negative impact was undeniable. Often, the emigration experience did not live up to the men's expectations or they did not always succeed in the big cities. Other times, members of the emigrant’s family also left their villages to join him. Thus, the Armenian-populated villages of Harput started emptying. In yet other cases, the host cities became a source of acquisition of new industrial knowledge for the Harput Armenian men. Working in factories, they learned to operate new machines, and realized the usefulness of these machines to the crafts practiced back home. New knowledge bred new ideas and entrepreneurship. Some returned to Harput, Mezire, or the surrounding villages having acquired vast experience and knowledge. Their return can be considered a significant contribution to the local economy, as well as to the Ottoman economy as a whole. Ironically, local Ottoman officials viewed the return of Armenian entrepreneurs to their native cities and villages with suspicion. The case of the Parigian brothers, who opened the first foundry of Harput is very telling in this respect. Instead of encouraging the operation of this gem of a factory, the local authorities over the years impeded its operations in various ways and closed it down on many occasions, fearing that its owners would secretly produce arms for Armenian revolutionaries.

The community leaders of the Harput area showed a profound appreciation of the importance of agriculture and related crafts. They realized the role agricultural development could play in improving the local economy, and the lot of the Harput Armenians, in particular. As a result, after the 1908 revolution, they thought of establishing an agricultural school in the region. The idea galvanized the community, and a location was immediately chosen and fundraising efforts launched. Concurrently, community leaders came up with the idea of establishing a huge silk mill in the Harput plain, where sericulturists from neighboring villages, mostly Armenians, would bring the raw silk they produced, convert it to commercial silk, and export it to Europe. However, the outbreak of World War I and the ensuing mass atrocities against the Armenians not only brought an abrupt end to these efforts but to the centuries-old Armenian crafts and industries as well. [1]


Armenian orphans in Mezire (Mamuretul-Aziz) learning shoemaking (Source: Ernst Lohmann, Skizzen und Bilder aus dem Orient, Frankfurt, 1899)

The Great Market of Harput occupied a central part of the city. The primary craft here was cobblering, and most cobblers were Armenians. They worked in more than a hundred workrooms, each with four to five craftsmen. The entire area was called “dikindjinots,” from the Turkish root-word dikici, which means shoemaker (goshgagar in Armenian, or goshgar in the local dialect). The entire area was covered by small, low-ceilinged shops, with a tiny window above to illuminate the workroom.

Hussenig. A shoe workshop and Armenian workers (Source: Aharonian, op. cit.)
Hussenig. A shoe workshop and Armenian workers (Source: Aharonian, op. cit.)

The leathers were prepared from goatskin or sheepskin, which were red or black. The soles were made of a thicker, sturdier leather of larger animals. The locals produced several kinds of shoes:

Vodits (odits in the local dialect) or postal: These were simple and low shoes with a protruding heel tab that resembled a tail. The heel tab was pulled up when putting the shoes on. The vodits was generally worn by men.

Djizme (mouyg in Armenian): These were winter half-calf high boots. They were generally worn by teenagers. Adults wore them during travel. Djizmes were generally red or black.

Kondura (also called potin, which may be the corrupted version of the French word bottine): These shoes exhibited more refined craftsmanship, and were also called European shoes. Only in the second half of the 19th century did the production of these shoes begin in the Harput region. According to Djizmedjian, a Greek man named Gurzi introduced this craft to Mezire in the 1850's. He opened a shop in Harput and took Hovagim Parichian as his apprentice. The latter mastered the craft of making konduras and, in turn, opened a shop with his son Smpad in the city. In 1895, Smpad emigrated to the United States, only to return after some time, bringing with him molds of new American shoes, samples, and tools. The production of konduras thus received a new boost.

Initially, mostly the wives and daughters of Turkish and Kurdish aghas and beys wore konduras. After some time, women from the affluent Armenian families also started to wear them. Beginning in the 1890's, these shoes became more commonplace and we saw teachers, men with university education, and Armenians returning from their travels to the United States, wearing them. Konduras thus became the symbol of a particular social class.

To make konduras, cobblers needed wooden molds that were imported from other cities although some local woodworkers made molds as well. The kondura was very popular especially among women. Kurdish women loved having special engravings on their konduras. Gradually, they become the most popular footwear for both men and women. They were also the most expensive shoes produced on the Harput plain. In the village of Parchandj/Perchendj (currently Akçakiraz) in the early 20th century, a pair of konduras were worth 25-30 kurus, and children’s konduras 7-8 kurus. A specific type of kondura, called botin-kalosh—likely the corrupted version of the French words bottine and galoche—was also produced during this period. This dual-purpose footwear had removable shoe tops that turned it into low shoes which could be worn indoors.

An advertisement in the Istanbul journal ‘Shebal’ for English shoes (kondura)

Master cobblers in Harput included Krikor Soghigian, Smpad Parichanian, Hadji Khacher Derderian, Mardiros Tashjian, Hovhannes Pambukjian and brothers, A. Altebarmakian, Asdur Liuledjian, A. Nalbandian, Mardiros Baghdigian, and Krikor Kazandjian. In Mezire, Sarkis Boyadjian, Khoren Darakdjian, Hagop Tashdjian, Melkon Rsdigian, the Ashdjian brothers, Hagop Djanigian, Khayadjan Srabian, and Sarkis Nurigian were well known. In Hussenig, Pilibbos Deroyan was a prominent master konduradji (kondura-maker).

Charukh or charekh (drekh in Armenian): This was considered the most basic type of shoe made by cobblers. It was made of thick leather, with holes through which a thick leather string crisscrossed to tighten the charukh to the feet. These shoes were best fitted for work in the fields and in factories.

There were also pabudj (slippers) makers in Harput. These were primarily worn indoors by women.

Plain of Harput. Apprentice shoemakers with their masters (Source: Ernst Lohmann, Skizzen und Bilder aus dem Orient, Frankfurt, 1899)

Learning the craft of shoemaking took two to four years, during which time the apprentice worked for his master without compensation. Master cobblers generally had one or two apprentices. The goshgar’s tools were the cobbler’s ilig, tongs, the külek (wooden bucket), the akhtar aghadji, the masat (steel for sharpening knives), a wooden block, the tabar (leather-weaving tool) the khoval, the kaz (meaning goose in Turkish, names probably for its shape), the mushda (metal instrument used by shoemakers for pounding and smoothing seams), and the chakadjag (puller).

Certain villages of Harput were also famous for shoemaking, chief among them being Parchandj, Ichme (Içme), and Hussenig. Perchendj cobblers included Srabents Garo and his sons Ovan and Arut; Misakents Misak and his son Khacho; Marta Koko; Komkhazar Mgrdich; Misakents Mano and his sons Boghos, Arut, and Asadur; Cheze Koko; Ovanesents Kasbar and Sahag (brothers); Kedjonents Mlkon; Djimdjim Kasbar and Sahag (brothers); and Parsekhents Decha and Krikor (brothers). Cobblers from Hussenig included Mahdesi Aharonents Manug and Mikayel Gulkhasians. After working in the village, both moved to Mezire and continued to practice their crafts. Among the cobblers of Hussenig, we also come across the names of the Boghigians, Krikorians, and Bedros Adjutian. [2]

Shoes made by the shoemakers of Harput Plain. From left to right: kondura, vodits (odits, postal), charukh (Source: Manug B. Dzeron, op.cit.)

Carpentry and Woodworking

This craft was practiced mainly by Armenians. The lumber would be brought from the villages of the Harput plain or from Malatya. The master carpenters of Harput and Mezire, as well as of Hussenig, Habusi (currently Ikizdemir) and Telgadin/Khuylu (currently Kuyulu), were most prominent.

The Euphrates College of Harput had a workroom where students learned carpentry from masters. For some time, Kapriel Kapigian, a woodworker from Hussenig, directed this workroom. Serop Vartanian was another master carpenter from Hussenig, who immigrated to the United States in 1887 to advance his expertise in woodworking, and later returned bringing with him important tools and machinery for woodworking. Initially, he opened a simple woodworking mill in Mezire, and in 1902 built a factory in the same city where the most refined furniture was produced. [3]

Kilardjonts Krikor and Toro Garo Mardiros sawing. Drawn by Nvart Dzeron Goshgarian in 1933. (1) Saw (khzar); (2) beam to be sawn (djisir); (3) back supports (isgele); (4) movable supports (khoub) (Source: Manug B Dzeron, op. cit.)

A carpenter was usually assisted by one or two apprentices, who worked with him for around four years, or until they mastered the craft. It was customary for the apprentice to live in the master’s household and be treated as a family member. The master provided him with food, clothing, and gave him pocket-money. Sometimes, the master carpenter even took upon him the task of marrying off the apprentice. The apprentice approached the master with great respect and reverence, and worked for him without pay. Once he had mastered his craft, the apprentice received a toolbox from the master as a “graduation” gift. [4]

Carpentry was one of the most prominent crafts in Hussenig. Famous carpenters included the Adishian, Siurmeli, Ichmelian, Nadjarian, Narjo, and Khevset families. Khevsetents Baghdasar was known as the village’s foremost master carpenter. Having honed his craft in Istanbul, he was the first to introduce a special technique of weaving boards for the ceilings of houses. Another known master was Narodests Usda Garabed. Hussenig also boasted several master woodworkers, who generally worked in Mezire. Among them were Garabed (Aghabab) Nadjarian, Mgrdich Rsdigian, and Kapriel Kapigian. [5]

Harput carpenters sawing wood (Source: Vahé Haig, op. cit.)
Harput carpenters sawing wood (Source: Vahé Haig, op. cit.)

The village of Parchandj also stood out for its crafts, and especially for its master carpenters. The village made an important stride in carpentry when Sdepan Dzeron Khalfa (the son of Chatalbash Dzeron) moved there from his native village of Havav in Palu. The apprentices of this master carpenter distinguished themselves and became sought-after craftsmen throughout the entire Harput plain. [6] From the Telgadin/Khuylu village, we come across the names of the masters Minas Der Minasian and Krikor Yeghoyan. [7]

The carpenters generally made objects commonly used in everyday life, like furniture or boards for the construction of houses. He also made agricultural tools like carts, djerdjer (the tool used to separate cotton from its seeds), weavers, and the wooden parts of different tools and machines, etc. The carpenter’s tools included the adze, the drill and the drillbow.

The masters of Parchandj included Dzeronents Nahabed and Sdepan, and Garabed, Dzeron, Bedros, Boghos, and Harutiun among their children; as well as Alexanents Minas and Boghos, Guguyents Agop, Garoyents Khachadur, Glglents Toros (who later became a priest), Lira Elo, Misakents Ovanes, Takesents Garabed and Sarkis, Depo Garoyents Agop, Khosjig Toros’s son Sdepan, Kilardji Giragos’s son Movses, Khojgants Sari Arut’s son Hagop, Khanchalli Sahag, Mghdesi Una, Guguyents Tumas, Hovannes, and Giragos, Khemel Mghdesi Khacho and Manug. [8]

Tools used for sawing wood: ripsaw, chalkline and dish filled with diluted red chalk (Source: Manug B Dzeron, op.cit.)

The Habusi village, at the beginning of the 20th century, had around 10 carpenters. [9]

An important part of carpentry was sawyering (khzardjutiun), the art of sawing boards. This was a traditional method of sawing lumber that was very common on the Harput plain. The tools used for sawyering included the khzar (long saw), the adze, two supports, a bowl filled with red or blue chalk (nosha), water, and chelpu (twisted fibers). First, the sawyers thoroughly hewed the lumber (djisir) from all sides. Then they drew a line on the lumber with the liquid chalk to indicate the thickness of the lumber to be sawn. The adjacent photo illustrates the process: The djisir (which literally means bridge) rests on the isgele (back support) [10] and the moveable support [11]. Sawyering required the presence of two masters. One climbed on the djisir barefoot and held the upper end of the long saw, while the other stayed at the bottom holding the lower part of the saw. Thus, with rhythmic movements, they cut the lumber along the chalk line with great accuracy. In the village of Parchandj, notable sawyers included Kilardjonts Asdur and his son Krikor; Toro Garo Mardiros; Usda Minasents Kirkor; Sahagents Sarkis and his brother Boghos; Rabitali Garabed and his brother Avedis; Haldjonts Asdur and his brother Musekh; Rabitali Garo’s sons Hampartsum and Mlkon; Garo Atam and his son Hagop; Haldjonts Arut; Topal Yeghso’s son Yeghazar; Manaselents Mlkon and Marsub; Haldjonts Kevo and Thomas; Kharacholtsi Mano; Garo Mlkon; Sheytan Khazare; Misakents Manug; Kilardjonts Garabed and Khachadur; and others. [12]

Mezire (Memuretül-aziz). A furniture factory and its workers. On the left, the master craftsman Nazaret Aghamalian. On the right, his apprentice Ghazaros Melikian, who would later become a well-known photographer in the USA. Many photographs of the Harput region belong to the latter’s collection (Source: Vahé Haig, op. cit.)

Distinguished carpenters also engaged in engineering and construction work. For example, Dzeronents Boghos Effendi and Dzeronents Bedros Khalfa of Parchandj were also military road construction surveyors. From the same village, carpenters Dzeronents Manug and Berber Avak’s son, Mardiros, later pursued their education in Istanbul and held positions as official surveyors in the provinces of Mamuretül-aziz and Diyarbekir. [13]

The most commonly used lumber to build of houses came from poplar trees, which is naturally straight-shaped but not very durable. The abundance of poplar trees in the village of Parchandj was an indication of the development of carpentry there. According to Manug Dzeron, when the reputation of Parchandj masters spread across the Harput plain, and these masters were invited to nearby cities and villages for construction projects, the number of poplar trees increased in the areas around the village. As a consequence, the lumber trade also developed. Among these tradesmen Depo Garo, who was the chief provider of lumber to the governorship of Mamuretül-aziz and to the woodworkers of Harput and Mezire, stood out. [14]

Carpenters also used lumber from the mulberry trees. The wood from these trees is very durable, and the wooden parts of the plough, of carts, and construction tools were made from it. [15] Another very durable type of wood came from the oleaster tree (iğde, zaqqum). Poles, foundations, arrows, and stakes. With it, they made bridal dowry boxes, drawers, and dfa [16] were made from the wood of apricot trees. The wood from walnut trees was of special value to the woodworkers, who used it to make doors, water pots, and spoons. The most resistant and sturdy wood, however, came from the boxwood (şimşir), ash tree (dişbudak), and mastic tree (sakızağacı). The last two types of wood were used to make cart wheels, while boxwood was used to make combs, spoons, and spankers (a tool for carpenters). Finally, the wood from oak trees was used to make water wheels and the handles of axes, shovels, and pickaxes. [17]

Blacksmithing and Locksmithing

Armenian blacksmiths in the plain of Harput (Source: Vahé Haig, op. cit.)
Armenian blacksmiths in the plain of Harput (Source: Vahé Haig, op. cit.)

In the Harput and Mezire region, this craft too was controlled by Armenians. A distinction however was made between blacksmithing and locksmithing. The former was what is known as demirci in Turkish and made tools for construction and agriculture. The raw material used by the ironsmith was imported to the Harput region in the shape of long rods. The locksmith, or the çilingir, made more refined tools and items like locks, scissors, knives, razors, and strollers.

There were approximately 50 blacksmith shops in the city of Harput, all found near the main market. Among the prominent blacksmiths and locksmiths there were Setrag Avakian, the Parigian brothers, Nshan Boyadjian, A. Ghazarian, S. Avakian, Boghos Sarkisian, and Ghazar Geoldjian. Mikayel Djandjigian was a master ironsmith from Hussenig. [18]

The Parigian family occupies a significant place in the history of blacksmithing in the Harput area. They were renowned for the foundry they established in Harput, which produced machines for mills, weapons, drillers, agricultural tools, and machines that separated wheat from chaff. The factory was established by the brothers Apraham (b. 1839), Parichan-Ded Amu (b. 1841), and Manug (b. 1857) Parigian, who were from Hussenig. Apraham was a gunsmith, and Parichan a goldsmith. They became blacksmiths in 1865. In 1870, the brothers opened a foundry in the Sinamud neighborhood of the city, in a valley bordering Hussenig. The location was a rocky, steep valley through a stream ran. The ingenious Parigian brothers were able to harness the energy from the stream to operate their machinery. In 1880, the youngest brother, Manug, traveled to the United States to learn about the most recent advances in the industry. He settled in Worcester, Mass., where a community of Ottoman Armenian expats had created a community. There, he met with Dikran Terzian (Tertsagian), who had acquired vast expertise working in American foundries. Manug established a close relationship with Dikran and convinced him to go to Harput and work in the Parigian factory. Soon enough, Dikran Terzian arrived in Harput, bringing with him modern tools and machines like lathes, shapers, drill presses, steam engines, and fans. Dikran’s arrival further invigorated the foundry: New forges were built; iron, copper, and brass began to flow abundantly and took different shapes in the foundry; and the production of agricultural tools increased exponentially. The Parigian brothers also repaired metallic machines in their factory, including meat grinders, sewing machines, and malfunctioning weapons for the Ottoman state.

Inside the foundry owned by the Parigian brothers. Harput, Sinamud Valley (Source: Vahé Haig, op. cit.)

The Ottoman authorities increasingly approached the success of the factory with suspicion. After all, they thought, Apraham was both an Armenian and a former gunsmith—a combination that fueled the paranoia of the authorities. The police soon ordered the closing of the foundry alleging that weapons were being secretly manufactured there. The Parigians however had influential Turkish friends and, with the leveraging of their influence, the factory was reopened. But the suspicion remained. After some time, the accusations resurfaced, and the factory was shut down again. These circumstances prompted the chief figure in the foundry, Dikran Terzian, to leave Harput and return to the United States. But the Parigians did not give up easily. Bribery and leveraging of influence worked again, and the foundry was reopened. In no time, the brothers managed to restore the factory to its former production levels. Around this time, the youngest brother, Manug, returned from the United States armed with new knowledge. The factory was now in its heyday.

In 1893, the Ottoman authorities, once again suspicious that the Parigians were making weaponry and explosives, reopened the investigation. The factory was shut down. During the 1895 massacres, the Armenians of Harput were also targeted. The Parigian brothers were injured during these atrocities. The factory later resumed its operations. But the brothers faced a challenge from nature: The stream’s flow had receded. Operating the waterwheels became impossible. The brothers built a huge windmill in the valley, and the factory’s operations resumed. The authorities intervened again, arguing that the windmill was a threat to the Ottoman army, as canons could be fired from the top of the structure. The brothers were forced to demolish the windmill and continue operating the factory under difficult circumstances. In 1905, Apraham passed away and Manug decided to immigrate to the United States. But with the reestablishment of the constitution in 1908, Manug returned and resumed working with his brother Ded Amu. In 1915, Manug is enlisted in the Ottoman army and, just like many other Armenians in the Ottoman army, fell victim to the genocidal policies of the ruling Ittihad ve Terakki Party. Ded Amu was asked to continue operating the factory, but only to serve the state’s needs, often without compensation. Ded Amu’s only consolation was the fact that he and his immediate family had thereby escaped the deportations and massacres. In 1923, when Mustafa Kemal’s new Turkish republic was already founded, Ded Amu and his family immigrated to the United States. He died at the age of 90 in Los Angeles. [19]


Hussenig. Two Armenian women in front of their pit loom and spinning wheel (Source: Aharonian, op. cit.)

In the village of Harput, this craft was a domestic endeavor, with each house having its own operation. Certain villages, like Hussenig, stood out for its master weavers, whose work was beautiful and of high quality. The village produced red and blue prints, as well as summer clothing for the Ottoman army [20].

Harput’s asorots chit (chintz, printed multicolored cotton fabric with a glazed finish) was renowned and sold in remote Ottoman and other cities. It was produced domestically and the local Assyrian community excelled in it. After the weaving was completed, the product was taken to asorots chay (the Assyrians’ stream), which was in fact a valley. Here, the product was cooked and then hung to dry. Then, the process of coloring and printing pictures began. The coloring material was passed down from generation to generation throughout centuries by craftsmen who maintained the secrecy about its mode of preparation. It is known, however, that to prepare this red dye, rubia tinctorum (common madder), walnut crusts, gallnuts, and several herbs were used. Gallnuts are produced by worms on several plants, and especially on the leaves of oak trees, and in turn produced a black dye used to, for example, prepare ink. Although in the early 20th century, alizarin came to replace this dye, it was not as durable.

Armenian orphans in Mezire (Memuretul-Aziz) learning tailoring (Source: Ernst Lohmann, Skizzen und Bilder aus dem Orient, Frankfurt, 1899)

The asorots chit was reputed for its durability—it withstood the test of time and its color did not fade. The pictures, generally flowers and birds, added to the woven product were the work of the same Assyrian craftsmen. The Assyrians sold it in Harput and other markets. It should be noted that the Assyrians practiced this craft in a way similar to how corporations are run today. The craft had its secrets, which needed to be kept, and an atmosphere of mutual trust and benefit had to be created. It was important to support one another and, most importantly, safeguard the customer’s product. This approach also created an atmosphere of trust between the customer and the craftsman. For example, in the spring, the Assyrians visited the villages and collected different weavings and clothes that were to be dyed and returned to their respective owners by the fall. This was not done not through paperwork and signatures, but through mutual trust. Thieves often roamed the area called asorots chit because the clothes were hung in open air. Guarding the clothes was a collective responsibility for the Assyrians. When a thief came to the area, in no time a crowd of Assyrians assembled, armed with bats. The entire Assyrian community cherished and guarded this craft. Among the Assyrian families producing and trading in this domain were Yaghum Dasho, and his son Suria, the brothers Agop and Boghos Perch, the brothers Minas, Boghos and Mardiros Chatalban, the Maljas, the brothers Kevork and Avedis Donabed, the Aghayigs, and the brothers Aghayeg, Gevargis, and Kasbar Chtdji. [21]


The town of Harput. The Assyrian quarter and the Assyrian church of The Holy Mother of God can be seen on the right (Source: Vahé Haig, op.cit.)

The village of Telgadin or Khuylu (currently Kuyulu) was for a long time considered the main center of tanning in the Harput plain. The Armenians who engaged in this craft stood out in the region. Tanning was likely brought to the region by Armenians from Chenkush in the mid-19th century. The rawhide was both brought from nearby villages as well as imported from Erzurum, Baghdad, Russia, and even India. Armenian sources noted that often the rawhide often arrived in Khuylu in caravans with up to 300 mules and camels. The main tradesmen who imported rawhide were the Giulbengians and the Trepians. The leather prepared in Khuylu was sold in the Harput area, as well as in the markets of Marsovan, Sepasdia/Sivas, Malatya, Diyarbekir, and other cities. The main craftsmen of the village who prepared the leather were Shahin, Boghos, Marsub, Sefer and Bedros Muradian; Mghdes Alexan Papazian; Sukias Papazian; Taniel, Bedros and Hadji Hagop Kaylian; Asadur and Hagop Yazlian; Baghdasar Agha Paghtoyan; Asadur Hovigian and his sons Asadur and Krikor; Hagop, Asadur, and Toros Aghoyan and their sons; Hagop, Kasbar, Simon, and Baghdasar Goshgarian and sons; Marsub and Bedros Goshgarian; Asadur Keochekian; the Kelians; the Depoyans; and the Gosdanians. The production of leather in Khuylu regressed noticeably in the 1890's, when the youth of the village immigrated to the United States in large numbers. This resulted in the shifting of the center of leather production from Khuylu to Harput. [22]

Gall. An abnormal growth formed in response to the presence of insects etc, especially on oak trees. A durable paint is made from it (Source: Father Ghevont Alishan, Armenian botany (in Armenian), Venice, St Lazzaro, 1895)

In Harput, the craft was primarily controlled by local Turks. The leather here came from the hide of small animals, sheep, and goats. Harput also produced leather from the rawhide of cows, horses, and oxen, but the leather from these animals was also imported from other regions and sold in Harput. Those who practiced this craft work in tanneries, in what was referred to as the “lower” neighborhood of the city, near the eastern hill, where a dabaghkhana was established near a stream. This is where the rawhide was cleaned and treated. The tanning was done in the fall, because leather treated and dried in cold and dry weather is softer and more durable. Dog manure and herbs were used when treating the leather, to make the hide of the big animals thicker and harder. Thin leather was dyed black or red and used to make shoes. The preparation of dyes was a craft in and of itself, but in later years the dyes were primarily imported. The Armenians in the Harput area who worked in the tanneries and traded in leather were mainly from Chenkush. Famous among them were the Muradians, Shahinians, and Nahigians. The tannery belonging to the latter stood near the city’s fortress. [23]

Manug Dzeron wrote in detail about tanning in the region. He wrote that first, a slush was made by mixing burnt clay in 20-25 kilograms of water and adding finely sifted oak ash. The slush was then applied to the rawhide. A day later, the remaining wool and hair was manually pulled from the rawhide. Then, the rawhide was folded and kept for a week, and water was periodically sprinkled on so that it wouldn’t dry out. The slush was applied a second time, and the rawhide was folded and kept for another week. The rawhide was then washed in the stream and placed in large vats, where a liquid called sakhkhad was added. This liquid was prepared by mixing dog manure to water. A day later, the cured hide was unfolded and the inner surface of the skin was thoroughly scraped to remove all remaining traces of meat. The water was then squeezed out from both sides. For the rawhide from cows and oxen, the procedure was the same, but it took longer. For example, the rawhide was treated with the slush for five to six days instead of one, and was kept in the vat for two weeks. The cured hide was then ready for tanning.

For tanning, the cured hides were placed once again in the vats in tatir, tegh, gallnuts, and lukewarm water. Tatir was made from dried and powdered oak leaves and bark, while tegh was prepared from dried and powdered pomegranate peels imported from Chunkush and Arghana Maden. For sheep or goat skin, one to two nugi (640 grams) of tatir was added, and an equal amount of tegh; for calf skin two nugi of each; for cow and ox skin four nugi of each; and for buffalo skin six nugi of each. [24] The cured hides were left in the vats for 3 weeks (30 days in the case of buffalo skin). During this period, the hides were taken out every now and then, and their inside surface scraped, and then returned to the vats. [25]

After three weeks, the cured hide were finally taken out of the vats and hung to air-dry. In the case of buffalo skin, during this air-drying period, the hide was flattened two to three times to make its surface smoother. The leather was now ready to use and dyed black or red. The leather used locally was also produced in cities outside the the Harput region. Among those trading in leather were the Muradian family and the Torosenk and Shahinian brothers. [26]


A threshing scene from Tlgadin/Khuylu (now Kuyulu) village (Source: Vahé Haig, op. cit.)
A threshing scene from Tlgadin/Khuylu (now Kuyulu) village (Source: Vahé Haig, op. cit.)

In the city of Harput, the butchers were primarily Armenians or Turks. The slaughterhouse was initially near the Turkish neighborhood, but then was moved to the middle of the boulders of Khayalez, near the St. Stepanos Church. Despite complaints from the church, the local authorities insisted on not changing its location. This is where the animals were slaughtered and then carried to the butchers’ shops in the city, most of whom were from Hussenig. [27]

Well-known butchers from Hussenig included the Hovsepians, the Bozoyans, the Asdigians, the Mazmanians, and the Aharonians and, in earlier times, the Arslanians and Nahigians. These two families provided meat to the Ottoman army during the Russo-Turkish war of 1877. [28] From the village of Parchandj, the names of the following butchers are mentioned: Perishan Garabed and his son Asadur, Nazarents Aymed amu (a Turk), and Haldjonts Kevo. [29]

There are also tradesmen from Hussenig who went on horseback all the way to Bingol, Mardin, Urfa, and Nisibin to buy flocks of sheep and goats from the local Kurds, and brought them, with the help of shepherds, to Harput and Mezire to sell them in local markets. Known among these tradesmen were Hovsepents Babo; the brothers Hagop and Apraham Demirdjian; the brothers Mushegh and Avedis Srabian; Kevork Kechedjian; Krikor Mazmanian; the brothers Garabed, Minas, and Hagop Mazmanian; Hovagim Nahigian and his sons Nahabed, Kapriel, and Simon; Artin Aharonian and his son Aghabab; Hagop Aharonian; Asdur Mazmanian; Arakel agha Hovsepian; the brothers Sahag and Hadji Hovhannes Diranian; Kzoyan Baba; Minas agha Kholigian; Manug Kholigian; a Kondjoyan; and a Djanigian. The majority of the butchers of Mezire were also from Hussenig. [30]

Sawyers and Stonemasons

Hussenig. A group of local stonecutters (Source: Aharonian, op. cit.)
Hussenig. A group of local stonecutters (Source: Aharonian, op. cit.)

This craft was common in villages, like Körpe, where particular kinds of natural stone could be extracted. Here, stones were cut, measured, and shaped to become tombstones, building blocks, and stones for grinding bulgur. The final product was then carried by oxcarts to nearby cities and villages. Körpe’s master stonemasons included Usda Sarkis Aznavurian, Ghazar Aslanian, Sarkis Turshian, Hovhannes Der Kasbarian (Shshugents), Yeghia Boyadjian, Sarkis Uzunian, Usda Yeghiazar Baghdasarian, Usda Khachadur Minas (later Tashdjian), Mangasar Aprahamian (Shachuyents), Torig Hagopian (Yeghoyents), and Usda Khayajan Uzunian. [31]

Hussenig was also renowned for its master stonemasons and sawyers. Some of them had advanced their craft to the extent that they had practically become engineers. Among these were Kayarents Usda Hovhannes and Kayarents Usda Mgrdich. The latter received the fourth degree Ottoman medal for constructing buildings for official use and bridges. The Ottoman army headquarters in Mezire and Chemishgezek/Çemişkezek, the government building, and the idadi (the Ottoman state’s primary school) were all built under the supervision of Kayarents Usda Mgrdich. The Kayarian family also built the mosque of Hussenig and its minaret, as well as the dome of the St. Varvar Church. The other parts of the church were built by Usda Agop Vahanian and Usda Manug. In turn, Keork Kondjoyan from Hussenig built Mezire’s hospital, the city’s army barracks, the storage building of Hussenig, and the governor’s headquarters. Usda Agop Vahanian’s sons, in turn, built the French college of Mezire. [32] In the village of Telgadin/Khuylu, renowned stonemasons included Bedros Najarian, Abdo, and brothers Hovagim and Garabed Mushoyan. The brothers were also engineers who prepared the plans for bridges and buildings and supervised their construction. [33] Pazmashen’s renowned engineers included Koledj Mghdesi Khayo, who built a church in his own village and three in Chemishgezek. He was also the architect of Mezire’s police station and prison. Other engineers from the same village included Koledj Boghos, Terzonts Dzeron, Koledj Asadur, Kapoyents Agop, Ovesents Babo, Poloyents Khacho, and Noroyents Mardo. [34]


Harput region, 1911. A bulgur/bulghur mill (Source: Vahé Haig, op. cit.)
Harput region, 1911. A bulgur/bulghur mill (Source: Vahé Haig, op. cit.)

The millstones that grinded wheat into flour were found primarily in the villages around Harput and Mezire, like Yegheki (currently Aksaray), Parchandj, and Pazmashen (Bizmişin, currently Sarıçubuk). The wheat was brought from the cities to these villages to be grinded into flour. There were five such mills (chaghatsk in Armenian, chagharch in the local dialect) in Parchandj, all of which were owned by local aghas. They were operated by Armenians and Kurds who paid annual rent to the owners. The most famous mill of Parchandj was baş değirmen (Turkish for main mill), which was also called Veri Chagharch or Yeghoyents Chagharch. In 1910, a modern mill was built in the same location, providing fine flour to the bakeries of Harput and Mezire. The other mills in Parchandj were Koshgrents Chagharch, Chakchaku Chagharch, Krigents Chagharch, and Sel Dagirman (sel değirmen). In 1885, the latter was replaced by a modern cotton-cleaning mill. Renowned Parchandj Armenians who worked in these mills included Hoppala Dono, Yegho Mncho, Topurma Egop, Misakents Bedo, Krigents Mamo, Kor Oso, Garo Kevo Kasbar, Nono Boghosents Navo, and Topurmayents Garmir Mardo. A mill operating on gas was built by Avedis Nadjarian and Murad Djigerdjian in Pazmashen in 1910. In the village of Yegheki, the mills were owned by the Arakelian, Bahadur, Sursuri, and Ermeni Oghlu families. [35]

The flour mills in Harput generally looked like the schematized drawing in the adjacent photo. The external structure is made of stone. The other walls are made of brick. The water-channel that brings the water diverted from nearby rivers is three feet (90 centimeters) wide, and 10-20 feet (3-6 meters) deep. At the edge of the water-channel are the sluice gates (called petag, beehive, in Armenian) that control the strength of the water stream. From here, the water floods over the waterwheel that starts turning. With the wheel, the shaft also begins to turn. At the end of the shaft is the runner stone. A lever (götürge in Turkish) was attached to the stone to control the degree of fineness of the flour that is being milled. The waterwheel can be stopped in two ways: either by cutting the water-supply or lowering the lever all the way down.

In cities, grinders were used to grind boiled wheat and make bulgur. And to grind bulgur, each household had its own yergank (grinding stone, yergnakar in Armenian). Shortly before 1915, automated machines that grind bulgur and wheat started to be used. [36]

Drawing of the Parchandj village’s chakchaku (chagharch) mill:

(1) mill; (2) millstone; (3) driver (garmudjag); (4) pail (takna); (5) spout; (6) chakhchakh; (7) flour store (alerdun); (8) waterwheel; (9) support post; (10) lever; (11) water channel; (12) nozzle; (13) sluice gate; (14) millrace; (15) oven; (16) hearth; (17) aghvon; (18) beehive; (19) wooden post.

The miller is Hoppala Dono. Drawn by Manug Dzeron and re-drawn by his son Levon M Dzeron in 1933, in Juliet, Illinois, USA (Source: Manug B. Dzeron, op. cit.)


The town of Harput. The potter Mamas in his workshop (Source: Vahé Haig, op. cit.)
The town of Harput. The potter Mamas in his workshop (Source: Vahé Haig, op. cit.)

Armenian potters distinguished themselves in Harput. They generally produced pottery ware for practical use, like sand-cups, dishes, vessels, jugs, small and large karaz (water bottles made of leather), special jugs for churning yogurt, and wine jugs. The shops of the potters were near the bathrooms of the fortress of the city. Many of the potters in Harput and Mezire were originally from Arapgir. A well-known pottery workshop where Mamas the Potter used to work was located on the way to the fortress square (Perti meydan). [37] Dzovk and Habusi, among the villages, were particularly known for their Armenian potters. [38]

A book on the history of Habusi mentions that the potters generally gathered the black clay for their work from the roadsides and fields in March. They then collected white clay from the village’s main square and the hill near the village school, sieved it and then mixed it, proportionally, with the black clay. They then molded it in water and placed the mix in one corner of the house in a covered barrel. The potter’s work began in the spring and continued over the next seven to eight months. The potter produced up to 15-20 items per day on his pottery wheel. The items were then placed in the shade to drain the liquid and then under the sun to dry them. Then it was time for firing and the items were placed in kilns heated by burning chaff. Certain dishes and vessels needed to be glazed and shined. For that, the potter melted lead and mixed it with sulfur. He then grinded it and with a brush, painted the walls of the vessels on the inside and outside. After letting it dry, the potter placed the product back into the kilns for one last time. [39]

Hussenig. A traditional factory in which silk is recovered from cocoons (Source: Aharonian, op. cit.)
Hussenig. A traditional factory in which silk is recovered from cocoons (Source: Aharonian, op. cit.)


Sericulture, or silk farming, was introduced to the Harput plain in the 1860's. Parchandj stands out in this craft, particularly because mulberry trees abound in the village. Sericulture developed quickly in Parchandj, which soon became the hub of sericulture in the province of Mamuretül-aziz. It also developed and spread through Hussenig, Kesrig, Komk (currently Yenikapı), Morenig (currently Çatalçeşme), Hoghe, and Yegheki, where mulberry trees started being cultivated, and in the summer, hundreds of families turned their households into sericulture production centers.

Diyarbekir played a significant role in the development of sericulture in the Harput plain. After all, it was the region's center when it came to silk farming. To illustrate the role played by Diyarbekir, let’s examine the case of Parchandj. A silk trader from Parchandj named Torgants Gimish Arut imported silk from Diyarbekir in the mid-19th century. There, he met with sericulturists and invited them to Parchandj. They accepted the invitation and brought with them silk moth eggs, thus initiating the cultivation of silkworm larvae (vort-beyel in the local dialect) in the village. Tato Boyadjian (Topal Yeghso’s husband), Boyadji Krikor, and Gelen Mgrditch followed in Arut’s footsteps. Gelen Mgrditch had learned about the craft in Bursa, where the Ottoman Empire’s School of Sericulture operated. [40] In Hussenig, one well-known sericulturist was Boghos Vartabedian, who learned his craft in Bursa’s School of Sericulture. Other sericulturists from the same village included Hovhanes Svadjian, Kevork Mantarian, and Bizmark Hovsepian. In Harput, Khachadur Tevrizian and his sons Armenag and Ardashes practiced this craft. They were also the main exporters of silkworm larvae seeds and cocoons in the Harput plain. [41]

Initially, the silk farmers of the Harput region did not practice healthy silkworm rearing and, as a result, many of the larvae died prematurely or became susceptible to infections. Under these circumstances, the production levels suffered. Gelentsi Harut revolutionized silk farming in Parchandj beginning in 1885, when he gradually mastered the scientific “secrets” of the craft. He acquired this knowledge from the silk farmers from Diyarbekir, who came to the Harput plain every year to sell seeds. Harutiun very quickly perfected his craft and established himself as one of the most well-known sericulturists in the province of Mamuretül-aziz. He passed on his knowledge to his fellow villagers in Parchandj and neighboring villages. [42]

Until the late 19th century, larvae seeds were imported to Harput from Diyarbekir and Bursa. In 1898, Dikran Zarifian of Harput, a graduate of Bursa’s Sericulture School, began to successfully produce seeds and dominate the local market. In the meantime, the Ottoman Public Debt Administration was searching for sources of income to pay off the foreign debt that had accumulated. In this context, the administration had started encouraging and providing financial support to different industries—like the production of tobacco and silk farming—the tax revenues from which went directly to the Public Debt Administration’s treasury. In Harput, this administration supported sericulture. In 1904, it announced a contest for excellence in different products related to silk farming and many sericulturists from the villages of the region took part. On June 29, the results of the competition were announced and prizes were awarded with pomp and circumstance on the grounds of the government compound in Mezire. In attendance were high-ranking state officials, consuls, religious leaders, and a military band. All five prizes up for grabs were won by Armenian sericulturists. The best wet cocoon award went to Kerovpe Effendi Zarifian; the best sericulture tools award went to Khachadur effendi Tevrizian; the best larvae seed production tools award went to Armenag Effendi Tevrizian; the best silk farm award went to Ms. Vartuhi Tevrizian; and the best mulberry forest award went to Keork Effendi Zarifian. [43]

A workshop in Parchandj village belonging to Gelen Arut, where silk is recovered from cocoons:

(1) copper tray; (2) cocoon; (3) hearth; (4) bench; (5) cupboard; (6) get-gal; (7) reel; (8) hook; (9) whip; (10) top; (11) main reel; (12) string.

Drawn by Manug B. Dzeron, redrawn by Levon M. Dzeron in 1933 (Source: Manug B. Dzeron, op. cit.)

Silk Production

The speedy development of sericulture paved the way for the production of silk in the region. In no time, the production of silk became an industry in its own right in Harput and Mezire. Silk production was spearheaded by two Armenian families: the Fabrikatorians and the Kurkdjians.

The silk factories in the cities were altogether different from the silk farms of the villages. In the village of Parchandj, for example, silk production was performed in Depo Garabed’s large yard. This is where, day after day for three to four months, silk farmers unreeled silk (ipeg in the local dialect) from cocoons. In his book, Manug Dzeron describes the silk reeling device: The silk reeling craftsman would sit cross-legged in front of a large jar filled with water and cocoons, holding the whip (khamchi) in his left hand. The jar was placed on a fire to keep it warm. The heat loosened the cocoons, and the craftman would gently whip them with the khamchi to facilitate the process. As the silk threads loosened, the craftsman would grab a set of threads and wind them evenly over the wheel, simultaneously turning the wheel to mechanize the process of spinning. [44]

The Fabrikatorian brothers. The owners of a silk and knitwear factory in Mezire (Memuretül-aziz) (Source: Vahé Haig, op. cit.)

In Mezire, the most famous silk factory was owned by the Fabrikatorian brothers. Their father, Krikor Ipakjian, was born in Arapgir in the 1840's. At an early age, he moved to the Lebanese coastal town of Junieh, which was known for its silk factories. There, he learned the craft in the factory of his compatriot Hovhannes Armenian. In 1869, he returned to Arapgir and then moved with his family to Mezire, where he established his silk factory. In the 1890's, he imported modern machines for silk-production from Europe and the United States, including machines produced by the Worcester-based Cropton and Knowles Loom Work. Krikor died in 1902. His five sons (Mamas, Aharon, Dikran, Garabed, and Samuel) ran the factory after his death, now carrying the last name Fabrikatorian. Garabed, Mamas, and Dikran visited the United States to gain even more expertise in silk production as well as cotton milling. They returned to Mezire with a newer generation of modern machines, one of which operated with a steam engine. The products of the Fabrikatorians were sold across the Ottoman Empire and were even exported to Russia and Europe. Before World War I, their factory employed 300 people. Near their factory, they built five two-storied houses, each for one brother and his family. All five families were annihilated during the Armenian Genocide. [45]
In Harput, the silk factory of the Kurkdjians in Veri Tagh was well known. Krikor Effendi Kurkdjian and his brother Sarkis established the silk factory in 1871 (according to Vahé Haig, it was in 1881), together with Hovagim Morukian, a sericulturist from Bursa. The ancestors of the Kurkdjians were from Van. They moved to Palu and then, finally, to Harput. Some time after opening the factory, disagreements arose between the three partners, and Krikor ended up running the factory alone. His son Khosrov left for Lyon, France, in 1883 to deepen his knowledge of the silk production industry and to purchase new machines. He returned a year later and started running the factory. In Khosrov Efendi’s day, production reached new heights and their textiles and curtains were exported all the way to Istanbul. The factory operated on steam engines consuming wood and coal. During the anti-Armenian massacres of 1895, the Kurkdjians’ factory was damaged. What was worse, the family members received death threats. To escape death, Khosrov Effendi converted to Islam. By this time, his two brothers had immigrated to the United States, while his third brother was studying sericulture in Bursa. When the massacres came to a halt, Khosrov Effendi sent his two sons to the United States. His youngest son and daughters stayed with him. Khosrov rebuilt his factory, which continued to operate until 1915, when Khosrov and many members of his family became victims of the genocide. [46]

Mezire (Mamuretül-aziz). The five houses, one belonging to the silk factory owner Fabrikatorian, and the others to each of his four brothers (Source: Vahé Haig, op. cit.)


Vahé Haig recounts how initially the population of the Harput plain was against being photographed, which is why photography was not practiced in the region. It is said that in the 1860's a photographer from the Caucasus arrived in Harput. Later, with the arrival of missionaries, photography became a more common phenomenon. But the greatest incentive to embracing photography came with the emigration of many people from the region to the United States as photographs became a material connection between families and their relatives overseas. Families began being photographed to send to their relatives in the United States images from towns. The establishment of a network of schools further spread photography through the region; the photographer was in high demand in the schools, often being asked to take photos of school events and graduation ceremonies, as well as classes. Harput photographers include the Hovhannes and Mardiros Sursurian brothers, who were originally from Hussenig. According to Aharonian, the Sursurians’ father had learned photography in Russia. According to another source, it was the Sursurian brothers themselves who went to Russia to learn photography. Later, the Sursurians’ sons, Askanaz and Harutiun, continued the practice. Other photographers included Mihran Tiutiundjian and his brothers. Mihran learned his craft in Jerusalem. [47]

Lamp Oil Production

This craft was unique to Pazmashen. The Armenian craftsmen used gdavad (flagseed) to prepare lamp oil. Many families in Pazmashen had their own oil-producing machinery. The oil they produced was exported to Arapgir, Diyarbekir, Palu, Dersim, Malatya, Chemishgezek, and other cities. Villagers from Pazmashen toured other villages selling oil, which is why those from Pazmashen were often referred to as tsitdzakh (oil-seller). During the entire 19th century, this oil was the primary source of light in the cities and villages of the Harput area. The oil was placed in containers and lamp wicks were immersed in it. After the advent of kerosene lamps, the production of lamp oil declined. In Pazmashen, the Korgoyents, Mnchigiank, Dervishents, Tatoyents, Bedoyents, Shahbazents, and Norozents families were known for producing lamp oil. [48]

Harput. Bakal Ovanes in front of his grocery shop (Source: Vahé Haig, op. cit.)
Harput. Bakal Ovanes in front of his grocery shop (Source: Vahé Haig, op. cit.)


Soap-making was not common in the Harput region. One known soap-maker was Vartan Vizneyan from Hussenig, who learned the craft while in the United States. [49]

Carpet Weaving

For the longest time, this craft was not practiced in Harput. Carpet weaving was primarily the craft of the Kurds of Dersim. They weaved covers, palas, and kilim (rugs) that were sometimes adorned with beautiful and intricate designs. In Harput, this craft experienced a speedy development after the anti-Armenian massacres of 1895, when missionaries established carpet weaving workshops in the orphanages they founded. Orphaned girls learned the craft in these shops, and Armenian tradesmen sold the rugs they produced. The missionaries, in turn, sent these carpets to the United States to be sold. The arrival of the missionaries also prompted another trade related to carpets: The missionaries started collecting old carpets from homes, mosques, and churches, and sent them to the United States, since oriental carpets and rugs were very much in demand in carpet factories in the U.S. that copied the designs. [50]


The grocers in Harput were generally Turks. Their shops were next to one another in Harput (city) and they sold different foodstuff, fruits, and vegetables. Of the 150 grocery shops in Harput, only around 10 were owned by Armenians. The rest were Turkish-owned. [51]


The barbers not only cut hair and shaved beards, but were also “dentists” and “doctors.” Such barbers in Hussenig included Berber Osgian and Mahdesi Kapriel (Mdes Kappo). It is said that the latter was also famous for preparing gunpowder. Apparently, the gunpowder he prepared was very refined material. Enthusiastic about his “discovery” of gunpowder, he offered to produce and sell the Ottoman state large quantities of gunpowder. His offer was not received enthusiastically; he was imprisoned. He was only released after many appeals, interventions, and bribes. After his release, he resumed working as a “mere” barber. The barbershops, especially in the winter, were also meeting places for men who gathered there to play cards, dama, and backgammon. [52]


The Armenians mastered this craft, although in Harput jewelry never reached the level of excellence that distinguished the Armenian jewelers of Istanbul and Van. This craft was transmitted from one generation to the other in Harput, and was traditionally the monopoly of a few families. The Soghigians, for example, were famous jewelers. Other such families included the Uzunians, the Dindjians, the Sarafians, the Samurians, and the Paghnetsians. Women’s jewelry was generally imported from Istanbul and Van, and sold by local jewelers and merchants. [53]


This craft was generally practiced by Turks. In the town of Harput, Armenian horseshoe-makers included Arzumanian, K. Yeremian, S. Mkhdjian, Manug Nalpandian, Garabed Zartarian, Pilibos Sahagian, and S. Zartarian. [54]


In the city of Harput, it was the Armenians and Turks who prepared bread. Among the Armenians, it was customary to prepare bread at home, and only rarely did they purchase bread from the bakers. These breads included the somun, the franjala, and the dernakh ekmegi that were made from whole wheat flour and sold in bakeries. Armenian bakers included Hovhannes Kechedjian and Baron and sons. [55]

Copper Utensils

The craftsmen generally produced kitchen utensils in copper. These included copper plates, jars, and pans. In Harput, this craft was practiced primarily by Armenians. Before being used, the copper utensils were covered by tin (kalay), to prevent the copper from rusting, and thereby poisoning the food it came in contact with. Covering utensils with kalay was a craft in its own right. Copper plates and other utensils were also imported from Sepasdia/Sivas and Tokat, where this craft was particularly advanced. Traders of copper utensils in Harput (city) included the Vartigian brothers, the Dindjian brothers, Yeghia Kazandjian, Mgrditch and Manug Maliemezian, and Boghos Varbed. [56]

Basket Weaving

Baskets, called chalkhavu in the local dialect, were woven from the branches of the ben-tree (moringa aptera). The same branches were used to prepare ktots, sala, breadbaskets, and khufa. The poshas (gypsies) were the masters of basket weaving. They came to the Harput area with their carts in the summer and settled in areas densely covered by trees. In exchange for the baskets they produced, the gypsies received wheat, flour, and clothing. They also mastered the craft of preparing sieves. The sieves were prepared by threads made from the intestines of sheep and goats, while in the case of sifter (sharmagh), they used the hair from horses’ tails, which are particularly thin. [57]


The craft of tailoring is assumed to have arrived in Harput from Aleppo. According to Aharonian, the first tailor of Harput (city) was Krikor Agha Ekizian, who learned the craft in Aleppo. His sons and nephews were also tailors: some of them stayed in Harput or moved to Mezire. Others from Harput went to Aleppo to learn tailoring, and then returned to practice their craft in Harput and Mezire. Well-known tailors included Harutiun Tashdjian, Avedis Kurkdjian, Terzi Nigoghos, Mergerios Hatsakordzian, and the sons of Arzengants. [58]

  • [1] Vahé Haig, Harput and its golden plain (in Armenian), New York, 1959, p. 654, 1016-1017; Manug B. Dzeron, Parchandj village: a complete history (1600-1937) (in Armenian), Boston, 1938, p. 223.
  • [2] Ibid., pp. 662-663, 673; Dzeron, op. cit., pp. 223-225; G. H. Aharonian (editor), Hussenig, Hairenik Publishing House, Boston, 1965, p. 83; Manug K. Djizmedjian, Kharpert and its sons (in Armenian), Fresno, 1955, p. 87.
  • [3] Marderos Deranian, Hussenig. The origin, history, and destruction of an Armenian town, translated by Hagop Martin Deranian, Armenian Heritage Press, Belmont, 1994, pp. 42-43; Vahé Haig, op. cit., p. 667; Aharonian, op. cit., p. 82։
  • [4] Dzeron, op. cit., p. 215.
  • [5] Aharonian, op. cit., pp. 81-82.
  • [6] Dzeron, op. cit., p. 214.
  • [7] Vahé Haig, op. cit., p. 797.
  • [8] Dzeron, op. cit., p. 214.
  • [9] The history of Habusi village (in Armenian), Baikar Publishing House, Boston, 1963, p. 48.
  • [10] Iskele (pier) in Turkish.
  • [11] Khup or khub in Armenian. It literally means lid, but in the local dialect, it simply means the support for the iskele.
  • [12] Dzeron, op. cit., pp. 216-217.
  • [13] Ibid., p. 217.
  • [14] Ibid., pp. 215-216.
  • [15] These include the radam or aradam of the plough, which is the inner thick rod to which the metallic shaft is attached.
  • [16] Dofa. A wooden part of the weaver to which the weaving comb is attached.
  • [17] Dzeron, op. cit., p. 216.
  • [18] Vahé Haig, op. cit., pp. 663-664; Djizmedjian, op. cit., p. 88; Deranian, op. cit., p. 43.
  • [19] Vahé Haig, op. cit., pp. 644-648; Djizmedjian, op. cit., p. 90.
  • [20] Ibid., p. 73.
  • [21] Vahé Haig, op. cit., p. 666, 673; Djizmedjian, op. cit., pp. 87-88.
  • [22] Aharonian, op. cit., p. 85; Djizmedjian, op. cit., p. 91-92; Vahé Haig, op. cit., p. 798.
  • [23] Dzeron, op. cit., p. 224; Vahé Haig, op. cit., p. 666.
  • [24] 1 nugi = 0,5 okha, oka = 640 grams.
  • [25] Dzeron, op. cit., p. 224.
  • [26] Djizmedjian, op. cit., p. 88; Dzeron, op. cit., p. 224.
  • [27] Vahé Haig, op. cit., p. 666; Djizmedjian, op. cit., p. 89.
  • [28] Aharonian, op. cit., p. 84.
  • [29] Dzeron, op. cit., p. 226.
  • [30] Aharonian, op. cit., p. 84; Djizmedjian, op. cit., p. 72, 89.
  • [31] Vahé Haig, op. cit., pp. 668-669, 945; Djizmedjian, op. cit., p. 96.
  • [32] Aharonian, op. cit., pp. 82-83.
  • [33] Vahé Haig, op. cit., p. 797.
  • [34] Abdal Koledj Boghosian, The comprehensive history of Pazmashen (in Armenian), Baikar Publishing House, 1930, pp. 101-102.
  • [35] Dzeron, op. cit., pp. 217-222; Vahé Haig, op. cit., p. 846.
  • [36] Vahé Haig, op. cit., p. 670.
  • [37] Ibid., pp. 670-671; Djizmedjian, op. cit., p. 89.
  • [38] Vahé Haig, op. cit., p. 774, 937.
  • [39] The history of Habusi village, op. cit., p. 52-53.
  • [40] Dzeron, op. cit., p. 212.
  • [41] Aharonian, op. cit., p. 84; Vahé Haig, op. cit., p. 639.
  • [42] Dzeron, op. cit., p. 212.
  • [43] Vahé Haig, op. cit., pp. 652-655.
  • [44] Dzeron, op. cit., p. 213.
  • [45] Vahé Haig, op. cit., pp. 641-643; Djizmedjian, op. cit., pp. 89-90.
  • [46] Vahé Haig, op. cit., pp. 649-652; Djizmedjian, op. cit., pp. 89-90.
  • [47] Aharonian, op. cit., p. 86; Djizmedjian, op. cit., p. 73; Vahé Haig, op. cit., pp. 673-674, 741.
  • [48] Boghosian, op. cit., pp. 29-30; Vahé Haig, op. cit., p. 843, 956; Djizmedjian, op. cit., p. 91.
  • [49] Aharonian, op. cit., p. 87.
  • [50] Vahé Haig, op. cit., pp. 671-672.
  • [51] Ibid., p. 670, 672.
  • [52] Aharonian, op. cit., p. 86; Vahé Haig, op. cit., p. 670.
  • [53] Ibid., p. 669, 672.
  • [54] Ibid.
  • [55] Ibid.
  • [56] Ibid., p. 664, 672.
  • [57] Dzeron, op. cit., p. 222.
  • [58] Aharonian, op. cit., p. 83.