MONUMENT AND MUSEUM
Scientists and politicians from many countries took part in
the International Symposium on Historical realities and Armenians,
held in Igdir from 24 to 26 April 1965. As the project prepared
by one the participants from Azerbaijan, Architect Professor
Dr. Cafer Gayisi, for commemorating the Turks massacred by
Armenians, a need was expressed for the erection of this monument
and this opinion was stated as follows in the final declaration
of the symposium: “Resolved, that a monument of martyrs should
be erected in Igdir and a cemetery for martyrs should be established
in Oba Village in order to eternalise the memories of more
than one million Turks that fell in Eastern Anatolia and to
give a similar answer to those declaring the 24th
April as the genocide day and to the monuments erected in
many places of the world for the genocide alleged to have
been perpetrated against the Armenians. The monument to be
erected in Igdir will enable us to remember to the eternity
the unpleasant days of the past and the colonialist Powers
seeding enmity among us, and shed light for our future on
the basis of friendship, good neighbourhood and co-operation.”
The location selected for the genocide monument is at the
eastern entrance of the City of Igdir, that is, at the junction
of roads from Azerbaijan, Iran and Armenia. The selected triangular
area has a surface of 1,3 hectares and the monument will rise
on a diminutive Agri Mountain. Its foundation was laid on
1 August 1997.
The monument is erected at the focal point of the triangle,
on a mound rising 7,20 metres above the ground in form of
a mound. The tradition had it that the mounds erected for
the rulers and army commanders who once lived in the Eurasian
steppes, these immense stretches inhabited by the Turks, had
the sarcophagus in the centre. The circular hall constructed
underneath the mound has the symbolic grave of the Turks massacred
by the Armenians and constitutes the main section of the genocide
museum. The Armenian bloodthirstiness is shown with the pictures
of the mass graves of massacred Turks. Photographs of the
massacres perpetrated by Armenians are posted in the room
at the right-hand side of the corridor extending from this
circular hall while the opposite room contains the library
for the genocide studies.
The main entrance of the museum is designed in form of a crown
door after the Selchuk-Turkish architectural traditions. A
compositional similarity is also noticed with the Ottoman
mosque pulpits in the spatial design, suggesting an entry
into a holy location. The claret and black granite slabs used
at the entrance door and frames of small-size windows which
are relatively few connote the grievous and mournful nature
of the genocide.
A 36-metre high sheaf of swords rise from the centre of the
mound to commemorate the Turkish Army that saved the innocent
Moslem people from the genocide and its martyrs and warriors.
The swords, five in number, are placed in a pentagonal plan.
Viewed from above, the swords represent the star in the Turkish
flag constituting the symbol of the Turkish State.
Soldiers of the ancient Turkish armies had the tradition of
honing their swords under wind, rain and lightning before
entering the battlefield. Thus, the swords pointed against
the sky within sight of the Mount Ararat will depict the might
of the Turkish armies before any would-be intruder and the
Armenians, whose national goal is to get hold of the Mount
Ararat and its vicinity, now see the Turkish swords raising
The curved tips of the five huge swords unite above and take
the shape of a dome, reminiscent of the Selchuk shrines. The
Turkish-Oghuz funeral architecture tradition was to erect
dome-like shrines on the tombs of rulers, heroes, commanders
and other dignitaries. The Selchuk shrines consist traditionally
of an underground tomb and a surface tower section and so
has the Igdir monument two stories. The underground stratum
is the museum part while the five swords depict the tower-like
The Igdir monument is thence designed to embody the three
major features of the Turkish memorial architecture dating
back to Ions in the past: The mound, the Selchuk shrine and
the epitaphs and created a composition conformant to the demands
of contemporary architectural construction demands.
The sword in a man’s hand is fearsome and those stacked together
represent the peace, well-being and strength and show also
the defence will of the nation. The sharp edges turned outward
suggest readiness against any intrusions from outside.
The circular museum hall (the underground structure representing
the tomb) and the tent-like pentagonal glass light shaft is
between the swords. The shaft, made of gold-plated frames
and coloured glass, epitomises the golden tent, a masterpiece
of the Turkish architecture. Flag of the State used to wave
on the golden tent, the symbol of the sovereignty. The golden
tent, pitched on the centre of the bivouacs of the armies
on the go, used to be protected with extraordinary measures
of defence. Thus, five swords protect the Turkish flag rising
atop the golden tent in the monument.
The sword’s sanctity is reflected also in its aesthetic design.
The butt of the Turkish sword, quite an efficient instrument,
used to be inlaid with precious stones and metals. So are
the butts of the Igdir monument’s swords, embellished with
bronze relieves and ornaments within granite frames. The grey
wolf, horse and twin-headed eagle patterns are repeated on
all the five swords.
The grey wolf is the main totem of ancient Turkish tribes
and became the national symbol from Hun to Ottoman Empire.
Before the adoption of Islam by the Turks, a grey wolf’s head
was used to be put on the tips of flagpoles, replaced later
by the crescent and star.
The admiration for the grey wolf as a strong, freedom-loving
and intelligent animal exists among all Turks from the Altai
Mountains to Anatolia. During the presidency of Ghazi Mustafa
Kemal Atatürk, the grey wolf was depicted on the banknotes,
postage stamps and many other official documents. The existence
of the grey wolf relief on the sword’s butt is an indication
of the respect for national set of values and obedience to
the Atatürk’s ideals.
The sword era in the history was at the same time the horse
era. According to the Turkish historians, the great conquests
of the Turks were due to their great mastery of two arts:
Horse training and mining, and especially the smith-craft.
The latter was important for manufacturing and shaping swords
while the horse training was essential for covering great
distances in the wars that never ended. The Turkish soldier
always departed with his sword, horse and tent for military
The horse another one of the main totems of the Turks and
inseparable friend and helper of the soldier. You may not
imagine the sword without horse and the Turk without a horse
and a sword. For this reason, all sword butts have a rearing
horse figure in relief. It was the symbol of heroism, happiness
and sun. The are at both sides of the butt.
The inner sides have twin-headed eagle figures. The Altaic
figures carved into rocks suggest that the eagle also was
totemised as a sign of grandeur and magnificence among the
Turks. The double-headed eagle symbolised first the Hittite
Empire and the Byzance Emperors had later adopted it for themselves.
Used finally by the Selchuk Empire as its coat-of-arms, it
stands at the apogee of this centuries-long tradition as the
Byzance Empire finally crumbled before the Turkish might.
The outer sides of the butts have soldier reliefs together
with grey wolves, horses and eagles as the products of the
ancient Turkish symbology. The soldier figures are different
in each of the swords on the monument and each butt depicts
a soldier of Hun, Göktürk, Selchuk, Ottoman and modern Turkish
Having created magnificent empires in various periods of the
history, the Turkish soldier deserves the greatest of all
monuments. Epitomised in bronze in the sword butts of the
monument, symbolise all the soldierlike generations throughout
the history as the staunch defenders of the nation, peace
Monument’s foundation was laid on 1 August 1997 by Igdir’s
Governor Semsettin Uzun. The circumferential walls of the
complex were masoned with stones from Ahlat quarries and their
cones were ornamented with wrought iron grills. Museum door,
windows and drawers are of chestnut wood, the swords were
coated with grey Bianco Maris granite imported from Italy
use was made of African red granite for some architectural
details. Marbles from various parts of Turkey, including the
Taurus black from Kayseri, Theos green and Ægean grey from
Izmir, Hazar pink from Diyarbakir, Ægean claret from Mugla,
travertines from Denizli and Kütahya, Kayran slabs from Bodrum,
Bergama granite cobblestones and Imyra stone from Antalya,
went into the monument’s construction. Great care was exercised
for ensuring the harmony of all these materials with each
other and with the details in which they were applied.
The monument and museum was sponsored by the Foundation for
Developing Igdir and its counties. It constitutes as such
a magnificent shrine of all who were mass-murdered and whose
graves are unknown. Those visiting this shrine will remember
our martyrs whom we sometimes forget and strive to understand
the true authors of the scourge that attained the proportions
of a genocide.
GIYASI, Prof. Dr. Cafer A., The Igdir Genocide Monument and
Museum, Atatürk Research Centre Publication, Ankara 2000,