Karvajar (Kalbajar) province

    As far as we may judge from the available cuneiform sources the territory of Karvajar had once been included into the Van Kingdom. It should be also born in mind that Karvajar was one of the first in Eastern Armenia, to adopt the ideas of Christianity (it is traditionally assumed that the monastery of St.Dad (hereinafter referred to as Dadi Vank), recorded as Episcopal See since the Vcent, was founded at the end of the 1cent. AD on the grave of Christian martyr Dadi - one of the 70 disciples of Apostle Thaddeus). In the V-VIcent. Karvajar was included into Caucasian Albania, which at the time being was a Persian province (marzpanutyun). Later, in conformity with "Ashkharatsuyts", dating back to the VIIcent., this district was included into the historical province of Artsakh as one of its twelve regions and was called Vaykunik. Since the middle of the VIIcent. and up to the end of the VIIlcent. the district, as well as other parts of Artsakh were under the Arab role.
    The beginning of the IXcent. was marked by the establishment of a strong local Armenian dynasty of Aranshahik. Since that time princes of this dynasty look the most active part in the struggle against the Arab rule, strengthening or building new fortifications and strongholds.
    The representatives of Vaykunik-Tzar dynasty were closely related to Zaqarian princes - amirspasalars (particularly, Dop, the sister of princes Zakareh and Ivane, was married with a local dynasty Hassan), who patronized and protected the province up to the Mongol invasion.
    The boundaries of Tzar (or Upper Khachen) principality extended considerably in the XII-XIII cent., apparently because the dowry of princess Dop, donated by Prince Ivane Zakarian included estates, which extended along the entire southern cost of lake Sevan - from Sodk to Shoghvaga. In the east the principality reached Akanaberd. The Dopian principality succeeded to remain within these frontiers till the beginning of the XIVcent. However, colophon of the New Testament copied in 1312 at Targmanchats.
    Monastery of Khachakap, outlined the boundaries as follows: "Grigor, prince of Armenia, the lord and master of Small Syunik, Handaberd and Akan, and the alpine sea of Guegham, from Sot to Shoghvaga, and our provinces consist namely of: Main Sot, and Berdadzor and Jokhants, Haskabaka, Atrenis, Kaler, Uriadzor and Khoruaget. Dvanots and other estates within the province, left by our ancestors, to the homeland with its four frontiers..." The Dopian dynasty bore significant losses during the invasion of Tamerlane in 1387. The population of Tzar region had been almost totally massacred, Prince Hassan and his wife Khondza, and their sons "brave and courageous masters" Grigor, Sargis, Shanshe, Jhanshe, Ajbugha and Shrvan took martyr death. Nevertheless, the Dopian principality managed to sustain its existence till the beginning of the XVIIIcent. Throughout all that period the Turkish and Tatar tribes that had already penetrated into some of East Armenian provinces, were not only denied access to Tzar, but being a strong province with reliable defense Tzar served a safe shelter for numerous Armenian refugees displaced as a consequence of war between Iran and Turkey. Thus in 1552, many Armenians that fled from Western Armenia as a result of devastating campaign led by Shah Tammaz, found refuge "in the God blessed stronghold of Tzar". Even though since the end of the XVIcent. the region Tzar and the whole Eastern Armenia, were under the Persian rule, the descendants of Jhanshe, son of Hassan Dopian preserved their title to principality (the rank of melik), which was legitimized anew by the edict of Shah Abbas announced in 1603. Thus the principality of Tzar survived till the early XVIIIcent. This was a period of relative peace, when many old churches were renovated and new ones built, alongside with a variety of public structures, such as bridges, springs, etc., which date from this period. Names of the meliks - rulers of that region such as great prince Mirzajan (recorded in 1549, 1552), melik Balasan (1630), Jhangir Bek (1676), melik Mirzakhan (1684, 1701), Melik Bek (1717), etc. are mentioned in a number of documents and epigraphic inscriptions.
    Beginning from the XVIIIcent. the violent pressure of the Turkish tribes and heavy taxes imposed by Persian authorities caused more and more trouble to the population of the province and its princes." At the end of the XVIIcent. the principality of Tzar dissolved within the neighboring principalities of Sodk and Jraberd. The second quarter of the XVIIIcent. was the most troublesome, even dramatic for the homogenous Armenian population. This period was marked by the predatory campaigns of the Caucasian highlanders, particularly. Lezghians, which followed each other." On the other hand, Turkish and Kurdish nomads settling in the steppes between the rivers Kura and Arax. had set an eye on the heavy meadows of Karvajar. They arrived with their numerous flocks every other year as the summer began and occupied the alpine pastures of the whole region.
    At the beginning of the XVIIIcent. the Armenian meliks of Tzar" following the meliks of Khamsa, prepared to fight for their independence. But in spite of special garrisons (sghnakh formed in the province, the Armenian population was slowly but steadily leaving a village after a village. Unprecedented mass exodus of Armenian population began after 1724, when contrary to numerous promises given to the Armenians of Artsakh, the Russian Emperor Peter the Great, signed the Peace Accord with Turkey. Ensuring the security of the by-Caspian Russian territories, conquered from Persia, yet, this accord virtually permitted Turkey to dispose of Transcaucasia (up to Shamakhi). That very year the Ottomans deployed their troops in the region, firstly punishing the insurgent Armenians of Artsakh, who, anticipating the Russian support, dared to fight for their independence.
    As the expatriation began, the lesser Armenian villages remained in Karvajar region, the heavier was the burden on those who stayed, thus accelerating the process.
    In 1725 Grigor Vardapet (preceptor) was consecrated as catholicos in stead of his late brother, catholicos Yesayi. A decree announcing the election of the new catholicos to all the congregations, parishes, meliks and heads of Armenian settlements scolded the popula tion to remain as loyal to the Holy See, as they had - been before. It is worth mentioning that the villages of the Zaruzibilu (or Tzaray) province are listed in the decree alongside with the villages of Gandzak and Maghavuz". Thus we may state that the main exodus took place after 1725, and within the next two or three decades the whole region was almost totally emptied.
    Except Khutavan and the monastery of St.Dadi being the Episcopal See (Dadi Vank), by 1760 the area of Karvajar was almost totally abandoned by Armenians.
    Since the second half of the XVIIIcent. the waste highland was free for nomads, though during that period the latter were in constant movement. Particularly, in wintertime they left the vast highland meadows and descended to the steppes of Utik and Aran (Mooghan), for coming back again next summer as the snow melted.
    Finally in 1813 the region was annexed to Russia. In 1868 it was included into the administrative district (uezd) of Jivanshir, which in its turn entered into the newly formed Yelizavetpol (Gandzak) province {gubemiya).
    Following the demand of the Russian authorities certain nomadic groups began though reluctantly to settle in some of the deserted villages, but the number of constantly occupied villages remained quite insignificant till 1850.
    The situation changed dramatically with the establishment of the USSR and the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan in 1920. Firstly, the land of Dadi Vank was nationalized and the monastery abandoned, secondly, the district of Karvajar was separated from Artsakh and included directly into Azerbaijan. Later, in 1923 a new administrative unit - Red Kurdistan was formed. After the liquidation of Kurdish autonomy in 1930, Karvajar was transformed into an ordinary administrative district within Soviet Azerbaijan." Thus, the historical province of Tzar or Upper Khachen was included into Azerbaijan as one of its 60 administrative districts - Kalbajar, with the rural center in Kalbajar (distortion of the former Armenian toponym Karvajar), It became an urban type settlement since I960, and in 1980 it acquired the status of a town."

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