Khinalughs - Settlements

Khinalugh, like many mountain settlements, is densely packed, with narrow sinuous streets and a terraced layout, in which the roof of one house serves as a courtyard for the house above.

The Khinalugh house ( ts'wa ) is built from unfinished stones and clay mortar, and is plastered in the interior. The house has two stories; cattle are kept on the lower floor ( tsuga ) and the living quarters are on the upper floor ( otag ). The otag includes a separate room for entertaining the husband's guests. The number of rooms in a traditional house varied according to the size and structure of the family. An extended family unit might have one large room of 40 square meters or more, or perhaps separate sleeping quarters for each of the married sons and his nuclear family. In either case, there was always a common room with hearth. The roof was flat and covered with a thick layer of packed earth; it was supported by wooden beams propped by one or more pillars ( kheche ). The beams and pillars were decorated with carvings. In earlier times the floor was covered with clay; more recently this has been supplanted by wood floors, although in most respects the house has preserved its traditional form. Smallish holes in the walls once served as windows; some light was also admitted through the smoke hole ( murog ) in the roof. Since the late nineteenth century well-to-do Khinalughs have built galleries ( eyvan ) onto the upper floor, reached by an outside stone staircase. The inside walls contained niches for blankets, cushions, and clothing. Grain and flour were kept in large wooden coffers. The inhabitants slept on wide benches. The Khinalughs have traditionally sat on cushions on the floor, which was covered with thick felt and napless woolen carpets. In recent decades "European" furniture has been introduced: tables, chairs, beds, and so on. Nonetheless, the Khinalughs still prefer to sit on the floor and keep their modern furnishings in the guest room for show. The traditional Khinalugh home is heated by hearths of three types: the tunor (for baking unleavened bread); the bukhar (a fireplace set against the wall); and, in the courtyard, an open stone hearth ( ojakh ) at which meals are prepared. The tunor and bukhar are inside the house. In winter, for additional heat, a wooden stool is placed over a hot brazier ( kürsü ). The stool is then covered with carpets, under which the family members lay their legs to get warm. Since the 1950s metal stoves have been used in Khinalugh.

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