RAM-HEADED GRAVESTONES AT ARAS BASIN
Ziya Zakir ACAR
As the fact of death is a consensus of all the humankind, cemeteries and grave culture has existed throughout human history. Unlike the western culture, in Islamic philosophy the perception of death is liberation and according to Mevlana (Rumi), death is a Şeb-i Arus (wedding night) so this culture has been more advanced in Turkish History. The most obvious display of it is that tombs and graves were built in the form of spectacular architectural and artistic works.
That cemeteries take place inside or near the city centers show us that the perception of death for Turkish people is a part of life.
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They can be commonly seen in Tunceli, Van, Erzincan, Erzurum, Bitlis, Muş, Ardahan, Kars, Iğdır, Hakkâri, Ağrı, Malatya, which cities were part of White Sheep Turkomans and Black Sheep Turkomans. Some samples can also be seen in Afyon in western Anatolia, In Central Anatolia, Ankara, Konya, Eskisehir, Turkey, Nevsehir; In the Black Sea region of Artvin, Rize, Samsun, Tokat. They can also be seen in Baku and Ganja Museums and old cemeteries of Shamkir region in Azerbaijani. Some samples can also be found in Montenegro, Kalbajar, Lachin, Gedebay, Aghdam, and Nakhchivan, Julfa, Armenia, Northern Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and North Korea.
Particularly horse and ram shaped gravestones are seen in Azerbaijani. It is noteworthy that gravestones in the form of sheep statue can be seen more often in the north and west. There are stone ram statues in Lerik, Astara, Masalli, Yardimli, Karabakh, Nakhchivan, Ganja, Kazakh Kelbedjar, Gedebay and Georgian villages where Azerbaijani Turks live. French traveler Dyub de Monpér, who came to Karabakh in 1834, told about these statues firstly and he wrote that Azerbaijanis show deep respect to these statues.
Horse, ram and sheep formed statues can be found in the areas where Turks live from Central Asia to Balkans date back to 12th and 13th century.
Horse and sheep statues in Azerbaijani have attracted attention of the travelers and historians who came to the country and they gave interesting information about them in their works and travel notes. Russian scholar V.M. Sisoyev has told the number of the statues and the location of them in Nakhchivan. For example he wrote about a sheep statue, which was made of red stone and 1,5 m. Length, height 62 cm. width 40 cm, in a cemetery in the east part of Nakhchivan and he also mentioned that people showed deep respect to the statue.
Czech-Mongolian archaeological excavations team has found two sheep statues face to face in front of a monument. Ram and sheep statues were date back to BC 2000 in Khakassia, in Kazakhstan and in Göktürk state in 8th. Small sheep figures made of clay were found in Kültepe in Nakhchivan. Ram statues carved out of wood were found in Khakassia.
These kinds of figures weren’t seen at the early period of the adoption of the Islam in Azerbaijan (13th century). They started to be seen again in the reign of the White Sheep Turkomans and Black Sheep Turkomans after 15th century. There are even some religious motifs and inscriptions on these statues. It is also noteworthy to say that the inscriptions on them increase after the second half of 15th century. The inscriptions and the motifs show us the period and on behalf of who and sometimes the sculptor. Mostly instrument, swords, arrows, bows, violin, broken mirrors, human and animal motifs are used on the statues.
A ram statue was found in Düylün village in Ordubad. It...