Show passwordHide password

Log in

Do you really want to create a new entry?

Offices and unitsDemographicsPartiesRegionsSettlementsPlacesPeopleArticles

Create new

Rawanduz (district center) • رەواندز • رواندز • Rewandiz

Rowandiz, or Rawanduz, a town of Asiatic Turkey, in the pashalic and 230 miles N. of Baghdad, among the mountains which separate the plains of Assyria from those of Media, on an affluent of the Great Zab. Its position is extremely striking and picturesque. Amid lofty and steep limestone cliffs, it occupies a sloping tongue of rock, with a ravine on the east, and another on the north, through which the river flows. The houses rise in tiers one above the another, and have generally flat roofs, without walls round them. The river is only about 10 yards wide and 1 deep, but very rapid and impetuous; and the ravine is crossed at the height of 20 feet above the water by a bridge of trees, which may be removed to secure the place against an attack from the north. Black 1859


The Bey of Rawanduz exacted horrible massacres on the Christians of Ankawa and elsewhere, as well as the Yezidis of the Nineveh Plains, and terrorised the Jews of Amedi, which he seized and overthrew the Badinan Emir.

The village of Koyunjuk ... was destroyed by the followers of the Kurd bey of Rowandiz, in the 1836, in which year the author first visited these ruins, immediately after the catastrophe, and the mound was then strewn with human bodies. Ainsworth 1842, p 142

=The Bey of Rawanduz was in turn subject to interference by Baghdad.

At the period of the first ascent of the steamer Euphrates to Baghdad, the fat and formidable pasha of that truly Asiatic city, was preparing for a campaign against the Bey of Rawanduz, a Kurdish chieftain, who was then in rebellion against the Osmanli government. ... "Inshallah!" he said, waving his hand over his little park of artillery glittering in the sun; "the dog of a Kurd will be taught obedience." Ainsworth 1847, p 46-47

The "fat and formidable" ruler in Baghdad was Ali Riza Pasha, who sought to undermine the Bey of Rawanduz and reassert Ottoman control.

The capital of Turkish Arabia boasted, in consequence, of the presence three pashas within its holy, yet crumbling, walls. Ali Raza Pasha held the rank of mushir, equivalent to the old standard of three tails; Askar Pasha, ferik or lieutenant, ruled in Ali Pasha's absence, and being less addicted to intemperance than old Ali, and less absorbed by profound astrological calculations, was able to bestow more time on the affairs of the province and city, and to bring to maturity a tolerably well got up Oriental intrigue, which unfortunately for him only failed by being detected when in full bloom. Lastly, there was Sarkese, or "the drunken" Pasha, who held rank as live-pasha, or lieutenant-general of the sultan's forces in Turkish Arabic. Ainsworth 1847, p 46

The Bey of Rawanduz was temporarily spared because of an attempt to force his enemy's removal.

Ali Pasha never moved against the Kurd. Askar Pasha was busy, while his superior was without the gates, drawing up a long memorial, criminating his chief, complaining of his map-administration and his extortions, as well as those of his son-in-law, Hamdi Bey; and this, by dint of promises of a better government, he got many of the principal inhabitants to sign. Among these, however, was Abdul Khadr Agha, the chief of the customs, who, terrified at what he had done, betrayed the plot to Ali Pasha, and the latter caused the messenger charged with the memorial to be waylaid, and thus prevented its ever reaching its destination, at the same time that he hastened to get his rival recalled to Constantinople. Ainsworth 1847, p 47

The flowery language translates to: the vice-ruler Askar Pasha filed a complaint, but Abdul Khadr Agha (who signed it in support) confessed about it to Ali Pasha, who intercepted the messenger and had Askar Pasha sent back to Constantinople.

Finally, the Bey of Rawanduz was eliminated.

The Pasha, terrified at the progress of this chief, sent Reshid Pasha, a distinguished leader, against him, who subsequently brought him to Constantinople, where poison terminated his wicked career. Stern (1848), p 117-118

All in all, Rawanduz was powerful in the 19th century but suffered horribly during World War I due to Ottomans, Russians, and the influenza pandemic, before coming under British occupation.

Rowandiz has only from 1000 to 2000 houses, but each of them contains two to three families, and the population is very dense. The inhabitants belong chiefly to the tribe of Rewendis, and are under a chieftain, who maintains some degree of independence, aided by the mountain fastnesses and numerous castles in the neighbourhood. Black 1859

On 23 August 1916 the Russian general, Chernozubov, defeated the 4th Turkish division at Lalgan on the Persian side of the frontier, and drove the Turks back on Rawanduz. Two Turkish regiments were captured, and about two-thirds of the town population fled. The Armenian troops with the Russians massacred about five thousand Kurds, men, women, and children, by driving them over the cliffs of the Rawanduz gorge at the point of the bay not. Even the Armenian can be a bit of a tiger when he has a defenceless prey. Mason 1919, p 331

Before the war, Rawanduz contained about 2000 houses and a population of over 15,000. After the armistice, Rawanduz and its suburb Kala Teluk contained only sixty houses. The town itself was almost deserted, and only twenty of the remaining sixty houses — out of the pre-war two thousand — were in this lower town. The remainder are in the suburb of Kalah Teluk, higher up. Rawanduz with its roofless crumbling walls looks more like some town in Flanders. The whole country has, in fact, been laid waste by fire and sword, disease, pestilence, and starvation. To complete their cup of misery, when we visited the Kurds last winter, they were just recovering from the world-wide epidemic of "Espagnol" — Spanish influenza. Mason 1919, p 330, 335; edited for brevity; visited on 7 January

Judaism in Rawanduz

The Jews of that city, in which for centuries they have only been exposed to insult and misery, having lately come under the dominion of the Turkish Government, now find their condition somewhat improved. Their dress is more decent, their houses are better built, and certainly better kept than in other parts of the mountain. ... Some of them enjoy a certain degree of opulence; and in particular the Nassi of the place, Mailum Nissim, is rich in landed property and herds, besides having two wives and several children.Benjamin II (1859), p 91-92

The Jewish population on the whole is very ignorant, and has no Rabbi; the son in law of the Nassi, the Schochet Mailum Samuel, certainly bears the title of Rabbi, but understands at most only how to superintend divine service in the Synagogue. Only the Rabbi prays aloud, so that the prayer Schemone Ezra, which as is known, is first repeated by every member of the congregation to himself, and is then repeated aloud by the Rabbi, is there only recited once by the Rabbi. Benjamin II (1859), p 92

On New Year's day, after the ceremony of the Taschich (prayer at the waters), they go to the stream flowing at the foot of the mountain, recite there the prayer, and throw themselves into the water and swim about. They imagine that by this bath they are cleansed from all their sins, quite forgetting the new sin they commit in taking the bath itself; as such an act is forbidden on festival days. I made several remonstrances concerning it, and an improvement with respect to it was promised. Benjamin II (1859), p 92-93

Formerly they had not only to bear the whole tyranny of the Kurds, but were even sold like cattle, and attacked in that which to them is most sacred — their faith. Thus for instance on New Year's day, when the Schofar (the horn, which according to the Mosaic law, is blown on New Year's day) sounded in the Synagogue, the Kurds rushed into the Temple, attacked the women and maltreated them, broke the symbolic trumpet, and compelled the Jews to desist from their ceremony. The Turkish Government has put a stop to such tumult and disorder; but in the more remote villages, where it is more difficult to watch over them, the Jews still have to endure every kind of bad treatment, although not sold as slaves. In many towns and in Rowandis, which, as I have already mentioned, is under the Turkish government, are still to be found, remains of the old oppression — vassalage — in some cases with the knowledge of the Mutesellim (burgomaster), though the Pacha dwelling in Bagdad knows nothing of it. The Turkish chiefs compel men and woman to break stones, to burn lime, mould tiles, &c and all this to the glory of the Lord. Our poor brethren think that it is their destiny to suffer, and submit patiently to their fate; the slightest amelioration of which they consider an unexpected happiness. Benjamin II (1859), p 91-92


Benjamin II, 1859

Google Books

Seems like an interesting book on Rawanduz.

Black, Adam and Charles, 1859

The Encyclopædia Britannica, Or, Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and General Literature, Volume 19

Ainsworth 1847

William Harrison Ainsworth. 1847. Ainsworth's Magazine, Volume 12. Google Books Has a great description of Ali Raza/Riza Pasha, the Ottoman governor of Baghdad at the time.

Ainsworth 1842

Travels and researches in Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, Chaldea, and Armenia. 1842. and

Mason 1919

Mason, Kenneth. 1919. Central Kurdistan, The Geographical Journal, Vol LIV No 6.

Google Books

Reverend H A Stern, 1848. Jewish Missionary Intelligence, Volume 14, Journal of the Reverend H A Stern.