Four families left in a village
A close-knit village
One can’t get to Yazid Tlik village unnoticed: the villagers will immediately gather to find out a stranger’s identity and the reasons for his appearance in the village. It doesn’t take Tlik residents long to gather, since there are just 4 families in the village.
The head of Tlik village has immigrated
There are 22 persons eligible to vote, 5 members of the elders’ council and a newly elected village head in Tlik border village. Former village head joined a crowd of immigrant villagers and the snap elections were to be held in the community. Slavik Saloyan was elected out of 2 candidates with 16 votes ‘aye’.
The door of the village administration building is always locked, but the village head could be easily found, he is always there in the vicinity.
Surik will stay in Tlik even if everyone leaves the village
Surik Khachaatryan, 74, is the eldest resident of the village. He recalls the old-time Tlik, populated by 110 families. The villagers were engaged in arable farming and livestock breeding. There were no water supply problems; there were about 100 heads of cattle, both big and small-size ones, per family economy.
In Surik’s words, there’s nothing left of the village. Now there is no water in the village, either potable or irrigation one. There is neither gas, nor any store here. The majority of villagers have left abroad, the rest have scattered around various regions of Armenia. Surik says, consequently it’s impossible to sell a house in the village now.
Before they leave, people lock the doors and windows and give the keys to those who stay. There are plenty of vacant buildings in the village. Cattle farmers from neighboring villages ttemporarily settle down there in the cattle pasture period. Thus, 11 families have settled down in Tlik village this year, but they will return home in winter.
Tlik village of Aragatson marz (province) is one those few settlements, that have always been populated by the Yazids and their spiritual leaders, who have observed the maintenance of national traditions. The village is mostly engaged in livestock breeding: its favorable geographic location has greatly contributed to that.
In Surik’s words, after Armenia proclaimed its independence, the village has turned out to be beyond the government’s attention. For example, the neighboring Armenian village, one way or another, have been provided with the conditions necessary for human living, whereas in Tlik there is nothing at all: one has to pass 15kilometes to buy a packet of sault. And that’s in case, there is no public transport here either.
The village heads, both the former and the newly elected one, have appealed to the district administration on the number of occasions, requesting at least to solve the potable water problem, but in vain. Tlik residents have to buy drinking water from the water tank trucks, that deliver water here. On a side note, these vehicles haven’t appeared here for already a month. Surik Khachatryan considers it humiliating. He believes, the authorities’ attitude towards Tlik village is a discrimination on ethnic grounds.
To take a photo of a Yazid woman one has to get the family head’s permission
Yazid women aren’t allowed to talk to strangers. Under their tradition, a daughter-in-law has no right to share the same table with her father-in-law, to say nothing of talking to him. In the Yazids’ opinion, it’s a token of respect to the elders. So, women have their meal separately. Even during a wedding or some other events, tables for men and women are laid in separate rooms. And if there is no chance to do it, then a curtain is hung to divide them. .
We got Surik Khachatryan’s permission to talk to the Yazid women. He is the eldest man in the village. It was easier to get Alif into talk, because she lived in Russia for the past few years and she takes the Yazid traditions in stride.
In her words, the national clothes are no longer in fashion, especially among the youth, who prefer modern trends. As for the older generation, they keep wearing the headscarves. The national cuisine hasn’t been preserved as such either, except for the stewed meat (Kavurma) that is preserved for winter.
Alif Samoyan returned to Armenia to marry off her son. The Yazids attach great importance to this issue. If a Yazid young man decides to marry a young lady of other nationality, the spiritual leaders will regard his move as denial of his faith and the young man will be rejected by the community.
It turned out to be a special day for Talik. And that wasn’t just because we showed up. A woman arrived from the neighboring village for a potential bride-show. According to the Yazidi tradition, a duty to go to a bride-show is fully vested upon women, men are not even allowed to be present. A groom himself can enter a bride’s house only after her parents give consent to their union. Surik and the village head are standing in the center of the village and they aren’t going to leave until the guest is there: their task is to make sure that a driver, who has brought the woman, doesn’t enter the bride’s house.