Makhunik, Iran’s ancient village of dwarves
Published: August 21, 2019
Makhunik is a unique village in a remote corner in Iran’s South Khorasan Province which dates back to hundreds of years ago. This mysterious village commonly known as the land of Lilliputians, is one of the seven amazing world’s villages by its remarkable architecture.
Iran is a vast country with many tourist attractions, many of which may have never been heard before and few people are aware of them. One of these tourist attractions is Makhunik which is founded 1,500 years ago. It is located in Doreh rural district of Sarbisheh County, South Khorasan Province, near the Iran-Afghanistan border.
Makhunik is known to LILIPUT land because of its dwarf residents and the tales around them; people who have an Afghan nationality and migrated to the area several hundred years ago. Most of its inhabitants were hardly taller than one meter in the past. However, experts say only a handful of dwarf residents still live there. Researchers believes that marriages between close relatives, poor diet and drinking water laced with mercury had left the inhabitants of Makhunik half a meter short than the average height of that time. Makhunik’s residents have inherited short stature disease from their fathers, generation by generation.
It is said that, an Afghan man, along with his family left Afghanistan and came to Iran about 400 years ago. They sought refuge in the Makhunik area in search of a place to live and they settled in this land.
But this is not the only attractive feature. Makhunik is also popular for its ancient-style architecture as well as its unique tradition and culture. The residents of Makhunik built their houses based on architectural styles in the Neolithic Era. The buildings’ color once served as camouflage; it was impossible to spot them from the mountains at a distance.
If you walk through the narrow alleys of the village, you will see small adobe houses with very tiny walls and doors. These tiny houses have been built next to each other into the earth hollows on the slopes of the hills. They have been built of stone and soil, and their roof is covered with foliage and a short entrance gate.
Building small houses was not only for lack of height, it meant fewer building materials were required, which was convenient as domestic animals large enough to pull wagons were scarce and proper roads were limited. Smaller houses were easier to heat and cool than larger ones due to climatic conditions. Firewood was insufficient in the region and the inhabitants had serious problems in warming their homes. They made very small windows to prevent the cold weather from entering the homes. The tiny windows also allowed the day light into the homes.
Inhabitants of Makhunik did not drink tea until 50 years ago, hunt and eat meat because of considering them as guilt. There are also no TVs anywhere, as the villagers believe that they are from the Satan.
The residents of the village mostly depend on pasturing their livestock and also agriculture. Some of them work in a mine near the village. Most of their agricultural products include wheat, garlic, turnip, beetroot, carrot, tomato, onion and saffron.
They speak in Persian with the special accent of the area. Nobody smokes in this village. People of Makhunik consider smoking as taboo and dangerous for the community.
About a hundred years ago people found out about the existence of this village, so that the connection was made and vehicles opened their way to the village. In the past, the lack of animals such as donkeys, cows, and horses in the area did not allow people to travel far to bring materials for building as well as foods. The village now has water, electricity, a health house, a primary school, a bathroom and several shops including grocery stores, butchers and bakers.
The inhabitants are now of average height and children have become taller as life standards improved in the region from the mid-20th century when construction of roads and growing numbers of vehicles have lessened their isolation. They have abandoned their ancient homes and moved into brick houses. The younger people go to nearby cities for work and women do some carpet weaving.
Important parts of Makhunik to visit are Sang Siah (Petroglyph of Makhunik), tower and castle building, Gol Anjir tower, astray house, Nader morde (Nader is dead).
A mummified body measuring 25cm was discovered in 2005. Experts said the mummy belonged to a baby who died about 400 years ago. The mummy showed that previous generations of Makhunik residents were shorter than the average human being.
The best time to visit Makhunik is spring. Summer is quite hot and winter is cold, so they are not good time to visit the village at all./MNA/