6 March 2021

Saturday, 18:48



Chingiz Qajar retells the history of the old fortress



I like looking at photographs in old albums. They preserve the life of the era: the characters of people, information about their social status, and even the moods. Moments of current life. They cannot be erased or altered. A photograph is an invaluable document, an irrefutable proof of the Time in which these people lived.

Many years ago, I saw a photograph in my great-aunt Famat's album. There were four gentlemen in the military uniform of the Russian army. On the reverse, there was an inscription: “August 1915, Khalilbek from Shusha (right) and Idris Qajar (prince of Shusha)”. I did not know which of my relatives left the inscription. Aunt Famat came in, took the photo and told me that I was too young to ask questions. She took the album to her room. My grandfather Avdrahman then quietly said: “Take it easy. Her brother is on that photo. He stayed there... in the Wild Division... forever." I never saw this photo again. I forgot about it altogether. Like slamming the album forever. But Life and Time decided in their own way: years passed, and I learned about the Qajar dynasty, and about the Wild Division, and about Shusha and Garabagh...


"Residents of Shusha"

Recently, I had a gift, a book called Köhnə Şuşa written by Chingiz Qajar. It was published in 2014 by the Şərg-Qərb publishing house (Baku). Leafing through the pages of the book, I realized that with his detailed stories about Shusha, the author created not only the image of the city as a geographical point on the map, but also retold the story of the ancient cradle of culture and arts of Azerbaijan. I immediately made inquiries about the author's biography, assuming that he might be from the Qajar dynasty, a culturologist or historian. It turned out that Chingiz Qajar is a doctor of physical and mathematical sciences, professor, academician, full fellow of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, honoured scientist and laureate of the State Prize of the Azerbaijan SSR. He is also the author of a number of books on the history of Azerbaijan: Köhnə Bakı, Qədim və orta əsrlər Azərbaycanın görkəmli şəxsiyyətləri, Qacarlar, Naxçıvan dünyanın ən qədim şəhərlərindən biridir. Köhnə Şuşa was awarded a gold medal in the Art Book nomination at the IV International Competition Book Art in Moscow.

In the book, I saw a portrait of a man in a military uniform from the beginning of the last century. The writing under the portrait read "Fazulla-Mirza Qajar, in the rank of under-yesaul of the 2nd Dagestan Cavalry Regiment (Niva, 1905, No. 8)”. By that time, I had already read everything about the Wild Division, and, of course, knew about the extraordinary bravery of this man. But in the chapter ‘Shusha: Generals of the Russian Army and the Army of the ADR’ (Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, R+) the author scrupulously, in chronological order, examines not only the professional growth and career advancement of a talented military leader, but also creates in detail the personality of a person who has become a reflection of the historical course of events at the turn of the 20th century. Here is what Ch. Qajar says at the very beginning of his description of this person: “The only son of Prince Shafi Khan, Feyzulla Mirza (Fazulla in military documents) graduated from the Nikolayev Cavalry School. Then, he was enrolled as a cornet in the 43rd Dragoon Tver Regiment. In 1904, he was transferred to the 2nd Dagestan regiment." But how tragically the life of this talented commander ended! Here is what the author says: “In 1918-1920, Major General Feyzullah Mirza enters the military service in the ADR army. With his cavalry regiment, he participated in the war with Armenia (the author means the March events in Garabagh in 1920). Appointed chief of the Ganja garrison. With the advent of Soviet army, the military commandant of Ganja, Lieutenant General Emir Kazim Mirza Qajar, was executed in Ganja, as was another representative of this famous Shusha family.” However, representatives of this glorious dynasty are not the only ones that Chingiz Qajar talks about in his book. Here is a study of the patriotic merits of Samed-bey Sadikh-bey Mehmandarov, the first general of the Russian army in 1805, Muhammad Hasan Agha Javanshir (the second son of Ibrahim Khalil Khan Javanshir), the native of Shusha, Faraj-bey Agha Irza-bey oghlu Aghayev and many others who became the pride of the nation.


"Khans of Garabagh"

But the story about this magnificent book should be started with the chapter ‘Khans of Garabagh’. It contains the most detailed chronological study of all generations of the ancestry of the senior line of the khans' dynasty and their descendants. The author says: “The first generation is Ibrahim Khalil Sultan, who was the hereditary head of the Javanshir tribe from the Saryjaly oymak. At the beginning of the 17th century (1606-1609), he was appointed by Shah Abbas I (1587-1629) as the head of the Garabagh mahal Otuziki.” Further in the text, we can see the names of all representatives of this dynast, including their wives. And this clan ends with a representative of the 13th generation - our contemporary, a resident of Baku, Jeyhun Agha, born in 1989. He is the youngest son of the head of the Garabagh khan’s house, Hidayat Agha Javanshirov.


"Beys of Garabagh"

Qajar begins this chapter as follows: “At the beginning of the last century, over 5,000 nobles lived in Shusha and in the Shusha district. The most famous bey surnames in Shusha and the district were: Umtsiyevs, Aghalarovs, Javanshirs, Mehmandarovs, Ughurlubeyovs, Galabeyovs, Misirkhanovs, Hasanbekovs, Mirzalibeylis, Alibeyovs, Badalbeyovs, Aghayevs, Sarajalinskys, Velibeyovs, Nasirbeyovs, Beylarbeyovs, Aghalarbeyovs, Zohrabbeyovs, and Vezirovs. The most notable were the beys who received the title from the Shah of Iran, followed by the beys titled by the khans of Garabagh. Almost all of them had land plots, villages, orchards, livestock, flocks of sheep, stables and stud farms. Beys lived in Shusha in beautiful mansions (imarets). In the winter, some of them stayed in their country estates." The following is a detailed description of the mores of the Shusha nobility, their way of life, their habits and preferences in everyday life and communication. " Beys can be divided in two groups completely different from each other." Which groups? And here begins an exciting journey into the recent past of people who were the driving force behind the cultural, social, architectural, musical, literary, carpet art of Azerbaijan. A unique guide for students on the history and culture of their own people! A wonderful guide for directors and actors of theatre and cinema! By the way, the wonderful works of the Russian artist Vasily Vereshchagin is also a documentary confirmation of the way of everyday life of the residents of Shusha.


Jafargulu Khan

Of particular interest is the chapter dedicated to Jafargulu Khan Javanshir! An aristocrat, general, philanthropist, a man with refined taste and a heightened sense of justice, an owner of an excellent stud farm of the Garabagh horses, a poet, a mugham connoisseur, owner of a zorkhana where wrestling competitions were held, and, finally, an excellent organizer of mass celebrations, including the competitions with fighting camels, goats, dogs and roosters. Jafargulu Khan’s personality is unique, interesting and intriguing. He was an honorary superintendent of the Shamakhi district school and a full member of the Caucasian Society of Agriculture. Qajar writes: “Jafargulu Agha's generosity had no boundaries. He was always ready to support not only the artists of Shusha, but also ordinary people. A tall man of great strength, he could easily fold a thick copper dish in half, like a sheet of paper! He had two wives who bore him sons. And, apparently, he lived avidly: he loved life, people, everything that he was busy with and for what he lived."

Qajar also provides a detailed study of the biography of Khurshud Banu Natavan, including his husband, children, family members, routine housework, meeting with Alexander Dumas, who was staying in the house of Natavan and her husband Khasay-khan  Umtsiyev; political games around the heiress of a rich khanate, social conventions of the harmonious world of the poetess. The author masterfully takes his readers to a fascinating excursion into the little known circumstances of Natavan’s life...

The book also contains information about the founder of the genre of realistic tragedy in Azerbaijani literature – Najaf-bey Vezirov, about the talented representative of national literature Yusif Vezir Chemenzeminli (Yusif Mirbaba oghlu Vezirov), who was the first ambassador of ADR to Turkey.


All Shusha

Qajar’s book includes not only stories about the noble families of the Azerbaijani nation. The author paid close attention to the history of the Garabagh Khanate, the streets and squares of Shusha, life, customs, culture of relationships and everything that made the life of the residents of Shusha - architectural and religious buildings, water supply facilities, home decoration, music, poetry, agriculture, carpet weaving, holidays and celebrations, as well as many other fascinating details that give an idea of the ancient culture of Shusha. The city that has become the cradle of the Azerbaijani national arts, the city that has become the embodiment of moral, historical and political justice, and the city which Azerbaijan regained on November 8, 2020 thanks to our soldiers and the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. And now Shusha, which in Russian means "glass", has become a symbol of the returned dignity and self-respect, a symbol of national unity and faith in our state and President.