Azerbaijan Culture and Traditions
I welcome to all guests who are willing to get information about our culture and traditions. Ideally, Azerbaijan has an ancient and wealthy culture and traditions which you may find out below
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Music by Useir Hajibayov
Words by Ahmad Javad

Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan!
You are the country of heroes!
We will die so that you might be alive!
We will shed our blood to defend you!
Long live your three-colored banner!
Thousands of people sacrificed their lives
You've become the field of battles.
Every soldier fighting for youhas become a hero.
We pray for your prosperity,
We sacrifice our lives to you.
Our sincere love to you
Comes from the bottom of our hearts.
To defend your honor,
To hoist your banner,
All the young people are ready.
Glorious motherland,
Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan!
About Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan, land of fire! of extremes! Land of hospitality! Land of culture! Land of beauty. Yes, Azerbaijan is all of these things. Land of extremes. Azerbaijan has nine of the eleven climate classifications of the earth - from arid to subtropical. Landscapes from desert to dense forests. Land of some of the most hospitable people you could ever meet. People who value the presence of a visitor and treat the visitor as if he were a king. Land of beauty. Some of the most beautiful landscapes can be found in Azerbaijan. Some of the most beautiful works of art can be found in Azerbaijan. Some of the most attractive people can be found in Azerbaijan.

As part of the former Soviet Union Azerbaijan has always been considered to be part of Russia by most people in the western world. Azerbiajan is not a part of Russia and its people are for the most part not Russian but Azeri with different customs and origins. Other nationalities such as Talishes, Lezgies, Georgians, Kurds, Avars, Tats, Jews, Russians, Tatars and other ethnic groups also contribute to the cultural mosaic of Azerbaijan. Many of these groups have been able to preserve their cultural traditions, customs and religions in spite of extreme political conditions. The official and most spoken language in Azerbaijan is Azeri from the Turkic language group but Russian and English is spoken in and around Baku.

Azerbaijan is a secular state which guarantees full religious freedom to all its citizens. Islam is the principal religion and the majority of citizens are Moslems but Christians, Jews and Bahais also co-exist in complete harmony. Since regaining its independence in 1991 Azerbaijan is now on a steady road to joining the rest of the world both economically and socially and in 1994 the "contract of the century" was signed opening the doors to the International oil industry and, thereby, to the rest of the world. After the signing of this document nine other oil contracts were signed and the rush for the black gold was on. Business started booming as the oil companies began drilling for oil and working on the pipelines.

It is only natural that tourism would follow on. Azerbaijan also lies on the "Silk Road" making it a natural destination for tourists. There are several surprises awaiting the tourist or business traveler. Azerbaijan is a beautiful country! Its people are extremely friendly and hospitable! Azerbaijan is one of the cradles of civilization. Thousands of natural and archeological monuments attest to the fact that this area was civilized more than 15,000 years ago. There is virtually a wealth of proof as to the beginning of civilized man in this area.

The natural surroundings in Azerbaijan paint a bright picture with gold beaches washed by the warm waters of the Caspian Sea. Green, dense forests with cool mineral springs and a multitude of flora and fauna harmonises with the picturesque Caucasus Mountains, eerie rock formations and crystal clear lakes. One of the most amazing things about Azerbaijan is the level of education and culture enjoyed by its citizens. Tradition, the arts, original oriental art, delicious cuisine are all part of the daily life of the Azerbaijani citizen. Of course, the hospitality of the Azerbaijani people is a phenomenon which can hardly be matched by any other country. With this brochure we are inviting you to come and enjoy this beautiful country, its cultural and natural riches and to accept the extra ordinary hospitality of its people! Hope to see you in Baku!
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Azeri Traditions
Azerbaijan is a country where national traditions are well preserved. In Azerbaijan where are a lot of traditions. The holidays on Moon calendar, "Gurban bayram" (the Feast of Sacrifice), "Ramazan" holiday (holiday after fasting) are marked as before. "Novruz" holiday (novruz is translated as "a new day") is the most ancient and cherished holiday of a New Year and spring. It is celebrated on the day of vernal equinox - March 21-22. Novruz is the symbol of nature renewal and fertility. Agrarian peoples of Middle East have been celebrating Novruz since ancient times.
Preparations for Novruz start long before the holiday. People do house cleaning, plant trees, make new dresses, paint eggs, make national pastries such as shakarbura, pakhlava and a great variety of national cuisine. Wheat is fried with kishmish (raisins) and nuts (govurga). It is essential for every house to have "semeni" - sprouts of wheat. As a tribute to fire-worshiping every Tuesday during four weeks before the holiday kids jump over small bonfires and candles are lit. On the holiday eve the graves of relatives are visited and tended. Novruz is a family holiday. In the evening before the holiday the whole family gathers around the holiday table laid with various dishes to make the New Year rich. The holiday goes on for several days and ends with festive public dancing and other entertainment of folk bands, contests of national sports. In rural areas crop holidays are marked.

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Novruz Bayrami-New Year
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Nizami Museum
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Applied Art
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Azerbaijan Culture

Following their ambigous geographic location, Azeriís have their feet in both Islamic and European cultures, the latter mostly Russian and Turkish, struggling with deep divisions between the old and the new. About 90% of the population is ethnic Azeri, with a smattering of Dagestanis, Russians, Armenians, Jews and other groups. Most Azeriís speak Azeri, a close cousin of Turkish, though many also speak Russian. The younger generation is now very keen to learn English. Even more than with Turkey, the 7 million Azeriís living in the Republic of Azerbaijan feel closer to the 10 million (more Islamicized) Azeriís living in Iran, in what is usually called "South Azerbaijan". Although at state level there is no conflict, there are important movements in civil society on both sides of the border, advocating a united Azerbaijan.

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A z e r b a i j a n

A literature of "longing" for reunification has also developed during the last half century (e.g the works by Mirza Ibrahimov, Balash Azeroghlu or by Suleyman Rustam), with a folklore based in recent heroes, such as Semed Behrangi and Jafar Pishevari. Despite years of Soviet attempts to wipe it out, Islam remains the most popular religion with the Azeriís, followed distantly by various Orthodox Christian branches. Like in Iran, the majority of Azeriís are Shia Muslims (70%), whereas Sunni Muslims make up most of the Islamic population of the rest of the former Soviet Union.
Sunnis, the more secular branch, practice leadership by consensus, whereas Shia leadership derives its authority by divine right. In spite of the divisions elsewhere, in a spirit of tolerance, the mosques in Baku serve both the Shia and the Sunni communities. The Azeri Shia community practices the Jafarite rite.
Azerbaijan is one of the most liberal Muslim-majority states, although arranged marriages are common among the urban population, and marriage via kidnapping is not rare in the country side. There is an attempt by foreigners (Iranians, Pakistanis, Saudis, ...) to introduce Islamic fundamentalism.
The country's musical traditions are preserved by ashugs, or poet-singers, who often strum the kobuz (a stringed instrument) while singing of the deeds of ancient heroes. Another popular form of music in Azerbaijan is mugham, which is improvised by voice and wind and stringed instruments and is often compared to jazz.
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The country has a healthy literary heritage, much of which derives from an oral tradition of poems and ancient epics (e.g. by Nizami). Mirza Fath Ali Akhundzada was a literary light in the 19th century, helping to develop a modern literature, especially in drama. During Stalin's reign, many of the country's writers and artists were victims of the purge.
Azeri architecture went through many different stages over the centuries but the lasting legacies belong to the medieval period, especially the Maiden Tower and the palace of the Shirvan shahs in Baku. The capitals ornately decorated subway stations are its most recent architectural marvels.
Azerbaijan is famous for its carpets, but also for its embroidered textiles. Artists use colourful threads (sometimes made of gold or silver) and beads to create geometric patterns on a thin wool fabric called tirme. The country's many bright-plumed birds and other animals have also featured in designs. Other popular Azerbaijani textiles include rugs, veils, shawls and towels.
Azeris are good fans of the 7th art, and cinema made at the Azerbaijan Studios in Baku reached international prominence during the Soviet period, however difficulties after independence reduced significantly the number of Azeri feature films.

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Azerbaijan National Dance
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National Dance of Azerbaijan
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Azerbaijani dances, like literature and music, are well-known the world over. Azerbaijani dances play a big part in the dance repertoires of the worldís groups.

Well known Azerbaijani dances include Uzundere, Vagzali, Terekeme (Nomadic Man), Papaq, Innabi, Ceyrani, Mirzeyi, Cutcu and after places Shaki Zorkhanasi, Nakhchivan or Qazakh Yallisi. The Zorkhana menís dance brightly symbolizes courage, bravery and youthful enthusiasm. The Qazakh yallisi propagates unanimity, unity and collectiveness. This dance is performed by a group of people and whoever doesnít dance properly is ďfinedĒ by the chieftain who makes him sing a song or dance another dance. Vagzali is played when the bride is seen off from her family house to the house of the bridegroom and her departure is reflected in this dance. Gangi (martial music) calls all people to unity, friendship and invincibility. Uzundere (literally ďa long gaugeĒ) is a kind of a long dance, which traditionally used to be performed when the bride and bridegroom were on the road. The dancer performing the Banovsha (Violet) lives with his feelings, showing how the violet grows from the ground, blooms and fades. Ceyran bala is an old and delicate dance. This dance shows the gazelleís gracefulness and elegance. It is performed by men and women. Mirzabeyi is traditionally played at wedding parties and performed by men and women with handkerchiefs in their hands. Innabi is the name of a fruit. It is a girlís dance and performed by one or two girls. The dancers show a womanís airs and graces as well as coquetry. Terekeme is a dance of a nomadic people. Those who are dancing extend their arms and go forward with their heads up. This dance is filled with the feelings of freedom and expansiveness. Both men and women perform it. Other dances include Nazlana-nazlana (with coquetry), Nalbekilerle regs (a dance with saucers) and Neftchiler sultani (sultan of oilmen) etc.

Traditionally the common part of Azerbaijani dances talks about friendship, invincibility and courage.

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Azerbaijan Culture and Traditions (Art)    -    Author : Elgun KARIMLY - Azerbaijan

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last update : 2007-10-10

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