by Juan Cole and Amir Hassanpourpublished in Encyclopaedia Iranica, Volume 4
New York: Columbia University, 1990
ČAHRĪQ, a dehestān, village, and fortress in Salmās (Šāhpūr in the Pahlavi period) šahrestān in Azerbaijan between Ḵᵛoy and Urmia. The fortress served as the place of imprisonment of the Bāb.
by Amir Hassanpour
Čahrīq dehestān is bounded in the north by Kora-Sonnī (Kurd. Köra Sunnī) dehestān, in the east by the dehestān-e ḥawma, formerly called Kohnašahr, of Salmās, in the south by Urmia šahrestān, in the southwest and west by Gerdīān and Šīntāl dehestāns and in the northwest by the Persian-Turkish border (see map in Iran Government, 1966, unpaginated). The western parts of the dehestān are mountainous, giving rise to numerous snow and rain-fed springs, streams, and rivers including Zūlārūd (Zōlāčāy), which discharges into Lake Urmia. In 1329 Š./1950, Čahrīq, then part of Ḵᵛoy šahrestān, had 35 villages (Ketāb-e asāmī-e dehāt-e kešvar, p. 451). According to the 1345 Š./1966 decennial census, the dehestān had a population of 5,348 (Iran Government, 1966).
Čahrīq village is situated about 20 kilometers to the southwest of Salmās town. The fortress (Qaḷʿa-ye Čahrīq) is built on a rising rock formation in the gorge of Zōlāčāy. According to the 1335 Š./1956 decennial census, the village’s population was 185 (Iran Government, 1961). The dehestān is populated mostly by the ʿAwdōʾī clan of the now settled and largely detribalized Šakāk (Kurd. Šikāk) tribe (see Minorsky; van Bruinessen). They speak the Kurmanji dialect of Kurdish and are Shafeʿites. The traditional economy of the region is based on animal husbandry and agriculture (grain, tobacco, and cereals).
Čahrīq does not seem to have been mentioned in Safavid literary sources. Like other territories to the west of Lake Urmia, Čahrīq has had a troubled history especially since the 13th/19th century, when it became a scene of conflict between Ottoman, Persian and Russian states and between the Kurds and the Persian governments. These struggles for the control of the region resulted in ethnic and religious clashes involving the Kurds, Turks, Assyrians, and Armenians and were characterized by destruction and massacres (Tamaddon; Kāvīānpūr, pp. 197-284).
In 1243/1828, during the Perso-Russian wars of 1241-43/1826-28, Čahrīq was captured by Russian troops. Later, before and during World War I, the region fell to Russian hands again. In spite of the 1263/1847 settlement of the border between Persian and Ottoman Turkey, dispute over the region continued (Mohandesbāšī, pp. 170-71), and Turkish troops occupied the region several times as recently as 1324/1906 (Ghilan) and World War I (Tamaddon).
The conflict between the Persian governments and the Kurds of the region, which most of the time belonged to the Barādūst principality, dates back to the 10th/16th and 11th/17th centuries, when the Safavid state attempted to extend its direct rule over Kurdish principalities (See barāduᵛst). The Kurds were weakened by the Persian government policy of resettlement of Turkish tribes in western Azerbaijan. Resisting the centralization policy Kurdish princes and tribal chiefs revolted repeatedly, and the region changed hands between the Kurds and the central governments throughout the 13th/19th century (see, e.g., ʿAlī Afšār on the 1880 revolt) and as recently as the 1300s Š./1920s (see van Bruinessen on the revolt by the Šakāk tribe led by Esmāʿīl Āḡā Simkō/Semītqū). Qaḷʿa-ye Čahrīq became a familiar name when the Bāb was imprisoned there before his execution (see ii, below) and when Simkō made it a base for his operations against the Persian army (Arfa, p. 137).
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