Sunday, March 3, 2013

Adiyaman by Hand

Hand drawn map of the Adiyaman region in Syriac. For a full sized image click here

One of the great things about this blog is getting emails with amazing maps like this one, from Ben Trigona-Harany. As Ben explains "The map was drawn by Bulıs Monofar, an Adıyaman-born Süryani who fled Turkey in the early 1920s for Syria, where he joined the French army and eventually settled in Homs. He was also the father of Mor Athanasius Aphrem Barsaum, the Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Beirut. I found the map in a book - part history of the Adıyaman Süryani and part memoir - that Bulıs wrote in 1971.

"The map simply shows the Süryani villages and monasteries in relation to the surrounding cities (Malatya, Urfa, Siverek) and the River Euphrates, in addition to the routes between them Like his book, the map is in Ottoman Turkish written with the Syriac alphabet, and it appears to have been drawn from his memory of the region rather than copied from an existing map [which may be connected to why it is upside down. See a modern-ish map of the region for comparison] . All the "Mor"s are Syriac Orthodox monasteries, although some were contested with the Armenians. The book, entitled "Adıyaman Tarihi: Makdasi Barsom ve evlatlarının yedi göbeğe kadar olan tarihi" [Adiyaman History: The History of Makdasi Barsom and his desecendants through seven generations], was never actually published. [Ben, though, is planning on eventually publishing a transcription]. The text that accompanies the map contains information on some of the individual locales (agriculture, wildlife, demographics, local lore) and measures distances in hours travelled form Adıyaman: Mor Abhay is 27 hours away; Malatya, 18 hours; Kerkişun 1 hour; Samsaat 8 hours; Urfa, 18 hours. About half of the book is Bulıs's account of what happened to the Süryani in Adıyaman during 1895 and WWI, including the fates of individual families."

A couple of passages from the accompanying text:

"At a distance of twenty seven hours is Mor Abhay monastery. On the fifteenth of July, the Adıyaman congregation makes a pilgrimage there. The road has beautiful scenery all the way to Adıyaman, with orchards, gardens, trees and flowing water. One hour from Adıyaman is a stream named Pirin which everyone to the north uses to water their gardens. Next to it there are about three thousand caves which thousands of people go to visit. Once a year in April, each guild has a day on which all its members travel to these large and small fields. There, they spend the day, from morning to evening, at the caves and by the river."

"Malatya is at a distance of eighteen hours, and between Adıyaman and Malatya, it is all mountains and forests, and every kind of wild animal can be found. There are wolves, boars, bears, dragons and other dangerous beasts. But every ten metres, one can also find sweet cold streams. And in these waters, there are countless carp. Alevi Kurds live in these mountains, and in summer it is more beautiful than Mount Lebanon."