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MEGHRI (POKR TAGH)

Pokr Tagh was developed after the main district of town but has the oldest extant structures, a virtual folk museum of architecture and old traditions. Its buildings are traced to the resettlement of the neighborhood following the 1639 Treaty of Qasr-e Shirin (also called the Treaty of Zuhab).

Pokr Tagh is a warren of alleys and narrow streets that trace the age-old paths of inhabitants who shaped this region for hundreds of years. Its feature is the basilica of St. Sarkis church, with its 17th century frescoed walls that are among the most exquisite in Armenia, boasting an Oriental style that is still unmistakably Armenian.

The Small District's so called “People's Houses” built in the second half of the 19th and the early 20th centuries possess a peculiar architectural charm, with two and three story houses with verandas and multi-paned windows with colored glass. Houses benefit from their position on the hillside and one used the other's roof as a courtyard, hence the term “People's Houses”. Unfortunately this way of living is being lost along with the district's silhouettes. The majority of these unique examples of folk architecture have turned into ruins while others are threatened.


Meghri Crafts
The art of the traditional craft in Meghri is almost completely lost but once included gold-smithing, black-smithing, masonry, tailoring, carpentry, straw weaving, textiles (wool, cotton, silk), rug and carpet weaving, embroidery and lacework. Rug styles included designs with ornaments in rhombs (quadrilateral of equal sides) running carpets and others similar to Persian carpets (with rhombic patterns and pictures of leaves and birds) and classic rugs with images of dragons. Special weaving for floors with two-sided carpets and colored woven textiles were wide-spread.


Meghri Karez
Meghri has often been described as an oasis in a desert, and much of its lushness was due to a unique water system called “Karez”, used for drinking and irrigation. Mentioned as early as the Urartian period, the karez system is still preserved in parts of Iran, India, China and Armenia and is traced to Egypt, where the drawing of underground water was necessary to irrigate the land. It is a simple device, the boring of a series of wells 2 meters deep at 8-10 meters from each other and gradually uphill. Then each well is connected to the others underground. Constantly needing maintenance, this efficient system ripe for the dessert surroundings gradually fell into disrepair and disfavor in the Soviet period. It is slowly being reintroduced to the area, farmers recognizing its sustainable fossil-free energy option.

The rehabilitation of Pokr Tagh, including the Karez project is spearheaded by Meghri-1 NGO and Arevik Fund (architect Armineh Petrosyan).


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