website of Jelle Verheij, historian

Travel Snap Shots

travel snap shots past and present

Ridvan, the former "Yezidi capital" (Kurtalan district, Batman province, 2011)

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1849 "Redwan is called a town, because it has a bazar, and is the chief place of a considerable district. It may contain about eight hundred rudely built huts, and stands on a large stream, which joins the Diarbekir branch of the Tigris, about five or six miles below. The inhabitants are Yezidis, with the exception of of about one hundred Armenian, and forty or fifty Jacobite and Chaldaean families. A Turkish Mudir, or petty governor, generally resides in the place, but was absent at the time of my visit" (Layard 1853: 38)


Until 1835 Rıdvan was residence of a Yezidi Bey, who was the ruler of a considerable stretch of land around the place, which was almost exclusively inhabited by yezidis, who in the words of Layard were "always in a state of semi-rebellion against the government".  The Bey was attacked by Ottoman troops under Reşid Mehmed Paşa in 1835 and killed. Most of the yezidis fled to the Sinjar hills (currently in northern Iraq) and elsewhere. Only a handful yezidi villages survived into the 20th century. Rıdvan itself is presently a hamlet, with a few dozen inhabitants. No traces seem to be left of the castle of the Bey and the church described by Layard.


Rıdvan is situated in the area that will be flooded by the Ilısu Dam reservoir

Layard 1853: 34