Makhunik, Lilliputs Village!

Makhunik is a village near Sarbisheh which has become well-known because in the past its people were shorter than those of neighboring villages.

Makhunik village is 143 km away from the city of Birjand and is only 20 km from Iran-Afghanistan borderline. Due to its residents being relatively short, its intact condition and plain architectural style, the village has drawn the attention of tourists and social researchers. Researchers have discovered interesting points about its resident’s unaffected way of living, customs and traditions. There is no written historical evidence on this village except Colonel Charles Edward Pitt’s travelogue of Khorasan and Sistan in which he has described Makhunik village in the era of the Qajar ruler, Naser-eddin Shah. According to some other evidence, however, it seems that the inhabitants of this village had been nomads and animal raisers in old days and became the locals of this region especially Makhunik village in some later periods. Another proof to the fact that Makhuik village has for a long time been residential is a stone inscription near Makhunik aqueduct in which the picture of an old shepherd has been cut. The Makhunik Village has many unique features and its inhabitants follow certain unusual customs. For example, until 50 years ago, they did not drink tea or hunt or eat meat. To this day, they refuse to smoke tobacco. They refused to permit television sets into their village, which they consider might “cast a spell” on them.

The people were known as Iran’s Lilliput’s, because their heights were often no more than 140 cm (4’7″), although it is said that in recent years their average height has increased.Makhunik

Makhunik dwellings have a number of unusual features, including having sunken floors, and mostly being dug into the hillsides. The entrances to Makhunik homes have very low openings, which makes it necessary for persons of average height to bend over, before going down one or two steps. Makhunik village has a fine moderate weather during spring and autumn, cold in winter and hot and dry during summer.

Makhuik village and its houses have a special architectural style. The village is on the steep slope and skirt of a mountain and has a very dense residential texture. Most of the houses are built one meter beneath the ground level, in one floor, with a flat roof and very low doors; such that entering them needs bending. Living room, bedroom, dining room, kitchen, and warehouse are all in the same space. Each house has spaces like Kandik (that is a place for storing wheat and barley) and Koreshk (that is an oven made of clay for cooking) and a ledge. These buildings are mainly made of stone, wood, and branches of trees, with their roofs mostly made of flat pieces of stone covered by a mixture of clay, grit and mortar. All lanes of this village are on slope and none of them is on an even ground; this, in turn, has added to the architectural attractiveness of Makhunik village. It is noteworthy that the historic texture of the village has been restored and rebuilt.

Among the historical attractions of Makhunik village, mention can be made of its very old houses, stone inscriptions, and the ancient tower. In line with traditional architecture, this ancient tower has been built of very simple materials and is known as Gol-Anjir tower.

Makhunik village is also famous for the customs and traditions. Everything in this village has its own rules; for instance, land is traded in very small pieces because of the fact that the number of fertile lands is decreasing. Villagers of this region are very modest and contented; they eat very simple food usually made of the local farming products; and bake their needed bread at home. Regarding the low rainfall in the region, one of the common traditions observed among the local people is an asking for-rain ceremony which is held in a special way. One of the other common traditions of the people of Makhunik village is long-time engagement before marriage. It is prevalent in this village that the elderly members of the family in a special gathering and under special conditions announce the girl and the boy engaged. The two are engaged longer than usual. Their clothes are Baluchi local clothing.

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