Memos from Asia

The Ancient and Traditional Pamiri Houses

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ALICHUR, TAJIKISTAN – CIRCA JUNE 2017: Beautiful view of Alichur village in Tajikistan circa June 2017 in Alichur.

Have you ever been to a Pamiri house? Do you know how it looks from inside?

Karakul, Tajikistan, August 22 2018: Traditional House in Karakul town in the pamir mountains in Tajikistan

Pamir houses are built by the people living in the Pamir regions. This region includes, Tajikistan, Northern areas of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Xinjang China. The traditional Pamiri house is called ‘Chid’ in Shugni Language and the Wakhi people call it “Khun’. It may look like any ordinary house but for the Pamiri people it holds different religious and philosophical meaning. It is believed that the house embodies elements of ancient Zoroastrians and many of these elements have been assimilated into the Pamiri traditions.

These Pamiri houses are made of stones, mud and wood. They look small from outside but are quite spacious inside.

Interior of the house has a large living hall which is divided into different portions i.e. for sitting, cooking, sleeping.

These houses have an interesting arrangement of the skylight in the center of the ceiling, which also refers to the light of eternity. The design incorporates the four concentric box type layers which represent the four elements earth, water, air, and fire. The opening is called ‘ricen’ in the Wakhi language.

Pamiri houses symbolizes as universe and it is more like a place of worship as different components of the house signify certain elements. For instance, the five pillars of the house represent the five gods/goddesses (Yazatas or Izad), namely the Surush, Mehr, Anahita, Zamyod and Azar.

There are three living areas called ‘Sang’ or ‘Sandj’ which symbolises the three kingdoms of nature: animal, mineral and vegetable. (see a photo on a Facebook post)

The five pillars support two main beams which represent the material and spiritual world. There are several other beams and each one has its own meaning. (see a photo on a Facebook post)

The roof of the Pamiri houses is flat and are mostly used to dry apricots and other fruits.

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