Azerbaijan International

Autumn 2004 (12.4)


Anna Oldfield Senarslan
Curiosity, hard work and a deep love for history and culture has brought Anna Oldfield Senarslan to Baku as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar to pursue her PhD. Her area of study: the age-old tradition of ashug music - improvised poetry accompanied on the stringed instrument saz. Specifically, Anna wondered if there were women ashugs in this region of the world. She has since discovered an abundance of them in Azerbaijan. In the meantime, her four-year-old son Atilla has become fascinated with the music and recently told his mom that when he grows up, he wants to be "the first Azerbaijani-American ashug fireman ever!" See pages 62.

Akram Aylisli
Probably few fellow writers knew the late Mammad Araz (1933 - 2005) more profoundly than Akram Aylisli. Both of them came from the countryside to study in Baku. Both dedicated their lives to literature. Mammad chose poetry, Akram chose the novel. Here Akram Aylisli shares his thoughts about one of Azerbaijan's most well-known contemporary writers, whose poems used to be sung like anthems during demonstrations of the liberation movement against the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. Page 22.

Constance Page
Constance Page is a founding member of the new athletic association called the Baku Bicycle Club (BBC). Its members thrive on vigorous exercise, while enjoying spectacular views of the Caucasus and Caspian from heights and sites never viewed by bikers before. Serious bikers usually own two bikes - road (thin tires) and mountain (nubby, thick tires). No wonder they can't wait for Sundays when road traffic is less daunting. They've also succeeded in raising funds to install a lighting system at Baku's Velodrome so that Azerbaijan's professional racers can prepare for competitions at night. Page 78.

Ichari Shahar Kids
Don't forget the kids when you want to understand the folklore of a nation. Their games, riddles, tongue twisters are very much a part of the fabric of folklore. Lucky us that brothers Mirislam and Mirramiz Yunusov so enthusiastically helped us understand the nature of "counting-out rhymes" in Baku's Old City where they live. Counting-out rhymes are more than just words. They reflect children's love of language - rhyme, rhythm and alliteration. Mirislam is even creating some rhymes of his own. Page 50.

Tofig Gazanfar
Tofig Gazanfar is a professional artist who studied in Baku and Leningrad.Often the subject of his paintings and pastels seems very simple. The layers of nuance appear in his pallette of colors and his shadings. We thought both his subject matter and his approach would particularly enhance our issue on Folklore.
Tofig describes painting as a vital part of his life. "It's as essential to me as air and water. Not to be able to draw would be like not living." If you want to see more of his work, visit His works are even more vivid in life, visit his studio close to Baku Soveti Metro in downtown Baku. Contact: Mobile: (994-50) 647-6928. Page 36-43, 47

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