Paveh: proud as the mountains of Houraman (Part II)
Paveh is located in the west of Iran and is 112 km far from Kermanshah and lies in a sub-region along the Iran-Iraq border commonly referred to as Hewraman situated within the larger geographical region of Kurdistan. The city is considered by inhabitants of the region as the capital of the Hewraman. The inhabitants of Paveh are mostly Kurds that speak Auramani.
To know the sociocultural characteristics of Paveh, it is necessary to start with the culture of Houraman. This region is divided today between three cities of three different departments: Paveh for the province of Kermanshah, Marivan for Iranian Kurdistan, and Halabja for the Iraqi region of Sulaymaniyeh. Huraman is originally a very ancient region of Persia, populated since the Paleolithic era. Archaeological excavations carried out in the caves of Houraman confirmed the ancientness of the human presence in this locality. Houraman was also an important neighbor of the ancient kingdoms of Mesopotamia. In his bas-relief at the foot of the Shaho Mountains in Huraman, in Iranian Kurdistan, Sargon II, the Assyrian king, describes the inhabitants of this region as "men who did not want to submit to any sovereign, those who protected themselves by the high mountains". The banks of the Sirvan River flowing in the Huraman valleys have always been places of interaction between the Aryan peoples such as the Lulubis, the Kassites and the Elamites, and their Mesopotamian neighbors. To the south of Houraman, near the town of Sar-e Pol-e Zahab, still in the province of Kermanshah, one can find a famous bas-relief of Anubanini, king of the aryenne dynasty of Lulubis who reigned on these territories in 2250 BC J. - C. - date which confirms the seniority of these regions. There is also talk of the legend of Pav, a general of the Sasanian army who came to reinforce the military bases of this province. It is still Huraman that in the seventh century, the Kurdish Iranians face the Arab army of Saad ibn Abi Vaghas, the envoy of the second caliph of Medina. After the Islamization of the country, Paveh does not lose its military status. The great kings like Shah Abbas the Safavid or Nader Shah Afshar integrate Hajani Regiments into their armies. These Iranian monarchs have sometimes displaced the inhabitants of this region to other parts of Iran to benefit from their military talents to defend national borders. It is said that the Kurdish version of the Book of Kings is written in the eighteenth century by Almas Khan, an hourmanian sergeant of the army of Nader Shah. The author did not hesitate to add some epic tales of local folklore. Mirza Abdolghader Pavehi, the great houramani poet of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, wrote a poetic book in which he discusses the war between the Cigales and the Starlings around Paveh. In fact, the poet is subtly referring to a battle between the Ottoman invaders and the Iranian army that took place there. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Houraman retains his role as the defender of the western borders of the country. This attachment to Iran also appears among Iraqi Houramanis. The city of Halabja, located in Iraqi territory, was attacked during the imposed war, especially during the operation (also called genocide) Anfal of the regime of Saddam Hussein, which cost the lives of nearly 200,000 Irano-Iraqi Kurds. The very name of Halabja arouses great emotion among today's Iranians, due to a chemical attack by the Baath party in March 1988, in which five thousand Kurdish civilians lost their lives. In July 1988, chemical attacks were also launched against some villages in Kermanshah province, including the village of Dudan de Paveh. The impact of these chemical weapons on the population and the environment of these villages, even today after 30 years, remains present. A section of the Tehran Peace Museum is dedicated to the memory of these events.
One of the factors uniting the Iranian and Iraqi inhabitants of Huraman is the question of language. The Houramani language is a dialect of the Gorani language which, in turn, belongs to the same linguistic family as the Kurdish language, one of the languages practiced in western Iran. The Houramani language is that of an important literature, especially in the field of poetry. Several poetic collections have thus been published during the last years in the Huramani language, which is written with the Arabic-Persian alphabet. The hymeni Siyah-Chemaneh follows one of the modes of versification commonly used in this poem. It is a song where the couplets are formed of two decasyllabic verses. The themes of these songs oscillate around Gnostic subjects and the praise of the prophet of Islam. Among the most renowned poets are Mirza, Abdolghader Pavehi, Molavi Kordo, Yusuf Beyg Emami, Almas Khan Kenulei, Seyyed Ahmad, Hayas Gharibi, and the poetess Jahan Arah Khanum. Unfortunately, the majority of these Houramani poets have not yet been translated into Persian or European languages. This excellent poetic art is undoubtedly one of the essential bases for the development of Houramani music - a music full of vivacity, enthusiasm and hope. The daf is one of the most played instruments by the inhabitants of this region. Originally, it was played mostly at Gnostic meetings of dervishes but today it is practiced in all circumstances - local musicians have thus popularized the use, sometimes blurring its spiritual value. In addition, the Daf House has just been inaugurated in Paveh thanks to the initiative of young artists, and under the supervision of a local branch of the Iranian Ministry of Culture. The shemshal, a kind of flute traditionally made with an eagle wing bone, is another flagship instrument of Houramani music. During the wedding ceremonies or Norouz, the Iranian New Year, traditional instruments alongside modern instruments. But the tones and rhythms are the same. The folk dance of this region is also famous at the national level. It is rooted in Mithraist rites and has a collective form. This dance resembles some of his gestures with Breton folk dances in France or with Jewish dances. The dancers form an incomplete circle or a straight line (in the most recent forms). The dancers' hands are tied to those of the neighbors; thus, the rhythms and positions are induced by the movements of the foot and the body. The main role is played by the first person of the line of dancers. Sometimes a dancer stays in the center of the circle or in front of the line to orchestrate gestures by his cries and movements. In some variations, the dancers hold one or two colorful handkerchiefs in their hands.
From the top of the hill of the Memorial of Martyrs, I take a last look at this wonderful city. With regard to its architecture, Paveh is now threatened by new buildings and buildings hastily built which must accommodate a population of almost 30 000 inhabitants. Nevertheless, the villages of Pueve have kept their particular architecture designated in Iran by the term of Massouléi. In this model, houses are built like the steps of a descending staircase, on a slope. The roof of a house serves as a yard for the house above. From where we are on the hill, many mosques of the city are visible. They bear the names of Sunni personalities. The grand mosque of the Friday of Easter is the most aesthetic. Paveh is also home to some Shia mausoleums, such as those of Seyyed Obeydollah and Seyyed Mahmoud. The inhabitants of Paveh are largely Sunnis of Shafiite obedience. They use the term Mamousta to refer to their religious leaders. This word is an equivalent of the Sheikh, Mullah or Rouhani in the current Persian terminology. Sufi schools also have a large presence in the city and in the villages; most of them being naghshbandi and ghaderi. To this we must add the Ahl-e Hagh (Yarsan), of Iranian-Islamic confession with beliefs similar to the Turkish and Syrian Alawites. Their ideas resemble Shiite beliefs; nevertheless, it is a religion resulting from the fusion of several spiritual schools that existed in pre-Islamic Iran. They have many sacred places of pilgrimage within the province of Kermanshah. It is easy to recognize the men of this confession by their long mustache which, according to them, symbolizes a religious pact. This religious diversity is perhaps due to the relatively good confessional tolerance that reigns at Paveh.
With so many socio-cultural singularities, Paveh has the potential to become a tourist hub of Kermanshah province. The historic sites of this city, the architectural attractions of the villages, the nature reserves and its rich folklore make Paveh a crucible perfectly summarizing the beauties of western Iran. Certainly, nature is the first tourist wealth of this city. The Ghouri-Ghaleh cave is the largest in the Middle East, and contains water reserves. This exceptionally long cave opens on one side 25 kilometers from Paveh in the Shaho mountains and leads, on the other, to the Iraqi mountains. Despite the efforts of the Iranian, British and French speleologist teams, only part of the beginning of the three thousand meters of this cave has been exploited. A section has also been developed and illuminated for tourists. This only small space of a few hundred meters is enough to show the extraordinary characteristics of this unique cave. The interior of the corridors is decorated with stalagmites and stalactites of different colors that formed during a period of 65 million years. Several archaeological discoveries have also been made in this cave, dates ranging from Paleolithic to Sassanid times. It is also one of the few places in the world where we can find bats of the type Myotis ("Mouse-ear Bat"). Ghouri-Ghaleh, whose name comes from a neighboring village, is spread out in the Shaho mountain which, because of its mineral composition, has given birth to a large number of cellars of different sizes. In addition to the natural caves, there is also the Cave de Hossein manually excavated for 19 years using a simple pickaxe by a highly respected handicapped person in the region named Hossein Kouh-kan (the mountain digger) or Farhad the second! This cellar visited even by foreign tourists is a large dwelling of a few rooms which also houses the tomb of the artist who died in 2016. The Iranian TV series Mah-e Asal ("Honeymoon") has also dedicated a show to this phenomenon, while the director Houshang Mirzai plans to shoot a documentary film around the life of this character.
The mountains of this region are the cradle of the Huramani civilization. The ruins of several prehistoric fortresses are to be visited on the slopes of these mountains. The architectural systems of these sites bear witness to the advanced engineering of their builders. The pieces of stone are superimposed without any material to cement them. The architects thus had vast knowledge of the complex formulas of the superposition of charges; this know-how has thus made it possible to hold the walls of these castles during the past millennia.
These ancient fortresses offer a perfect view of the river Sirvan, another major player in the nature of Huraman. This river has always been considered as an incarnation of Houraman's free soul. His journey from the mountains of Iran's Zagros to Baghdad, where he meets the great Tigris River, echoes the history of this part of the Iranian plateau from the era of ancient times to the present day. This river is not navigable in the Iranian part, but plays a primordial role in the lives of the residents. Border markets which benefit from lower customs taxes, very frequented by the inhabitants of Paveh, are in the valleys of this river. The Daryan dike is built in the Iranian Hurman on this river, to provide water for agricultural activities. During his journey, Sirvan receives water from a dozen rivers, streams and springs in the Iranian and Iraqi territories. The source Bel is one of them. In short, the identity of Paveh is comparable with the nature of Huraman: as beautiful as its oak forests, as free as its river Sirvan, and proud as the mountains of Huraman.