Udis - Settlements

The Udi villages lie in the lowlands at the foot of the Caucasus; they have a free, unstructured layout and wide streets. In Vartashen the Udis live side by side with Armenians, Azeris, Mountain Jews, and Lezgins; the Udis of Nij have Azeris as neighbors. Vartashen is divided into three quarters: Jegutlar is inhabited by Mountain Jews, and in the other two quarters live Udis, Armenians, and Azeris (the population of the last has recently increased). Nij was also segmented into three familial-based quarters at the beginning of the nineteenth century, growing to twelve in the twentieth century. The Udi farmstead contains an orchard, kitchen garden, and courtyard, enclosed by a wattle or stone fence. The house is set back in the garden, sometimes with its front turned away from the street.

The Udi house traditionally had one story, built of stone or simple bricks, set on a raised stone foundation. The house was surmounted by a two-or four-sloped thatch (later tiled) roof. The traditional house was windowless, with light being admitted through small holes in the walls and ceiling, and also through the always-open door. The house contained one to three chambers ( k'oj ); one room with a fireplace was used for receiving guests. In the largest room, the ceiling was supported by thick beams, which in turn were held by wooden pillars. A square vent was built into the ceiling, under which was the hearth, where food was cooked and around which the family kept warm in winter. At the end of the nineteenth century the hearth was replaced by a fireplace ( bokharik ) with chimney, and more recently by an iron stove. One important component of an Udi home was the spacious attic (rarely with a fireplace) that was used used as a silkworm nursery and for drying and preserving fruit. At the beginning of the twentieth century two-story houses with balconies ( eivan ) built onto the facade, large glazed windows, and wooden floors made their appearance.

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