Tuesday, October 23, 2007


In every house in Sheki there is a lamp like the one on this picture. This is an oil lamp that is used if the lights go off. Our grandmothers left them to us. During our wedding ceremonies there is always someone that walks in front of the/next to the bride and carries a lamp or candles as the symbol of light that bride would bring to her new family and home…

I like the shape of these lamps and touch of history that they carry…and even if we don’t have to use them (thankfully) often now it is still nice to have one in the house.

Monday, October 22, 2007


I was in Georgia last week and the plane that took me there had "Sheki" written on it. I assume that this is the plane that used to fly to Sheki when the airport there was working. Currently the airport is not working but I hope one day it will resume its operations and getting there will take only 45 minutes.
I was scared to take this photo as security could get angry but I did it quickly as I thought that it is some kind of "fun" photo.

Monday, October 15, 2007

End of Ramadan

Every year during 30 days Muslim people fast during the month of Ramadan. Each year the month of Ramadan is moving backwards. Fasting people wake up early in the morning until the Sun comes out and eat (this is called imsaq) and fast the whole day until its dark. When Moon comes out people break their fast (this is called iftar as mentioned in my yesterday’s post). When fast is open fasting people drink a bit of water, taste salt and eat dates first…In addition to fasting, fasting people can not/do not/should not drink, smoke, make love, gossip or behave badly during the month of Ramadan. Sorry for this dilettante way of Ramadan description. Thorough information can be found on sophisticated websites.

12 October, has been the end of Ramadan this year and public holidays continue in Azerbaijan until tomorrow. The tradition is that on Ramadan people go and visit as many fasting people they know as possible and congratulate them with the holiday. Fasting people receive presents and sweets and lots of attention. Many meals are prepared for dinner and guests come and go the whole day. The atmosphere is very festive. Women do a lot of cooking and get tired of course...Also one of the main and serious traditions is “fitra” – allocation of some sum of money which has to be equal number of members of the family multiplied by a certain sum of money per head (it can be also much more money of course than the formula gives :) depending on income and generosity of the family) and give it to poor so that they can prepare holiday dinner.

On holiday I visited my parents who fasted to congratulate them with their holiday and have dinner with them and pass small presents that we have prepared to them with my husband. We have already given out our “fitra”. This is a picture of "plov", so called "king of dishes" in Azerbaijan and its kind of dressings that my mom prepared. I will have separate post on plov one day.

Personally I have never fasted…initially I never thought about it, then I always had an excuse not to fast cause I thought that fasting and studying and working in parallel would be too hard. Ramadan is a psychologically hard month for non fasting people because they feel remorse each time they eat and drink while people around are fasting. There are many people around me who choose/are able to fast and I deeply respect their belief, discipline and strength of will. Therefore these days are their days. I can imagine the euphoria and pride they must feel for their belief, accomplishment, strength of will and discipline. Well done! Congratulations and respect!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007


As you might know it is the month of Ramadan in Muslim countries now including Azerbaijan. During Ramadan people fast from dawn to dusk and when in the evenings they break their fast their relatives, friends invite them for "iftar". Iftar is said about stopping the fast in the evening. We say that it is "savab" (something that is considered as a good deed before Allah) to invite fasting people to iftar. This good tradition is followed nowadays and people enjoy breaking their fast in the evenings together or invite fasting people to iftar. Usually there is plenty of food on the table and women try to be very creative and prepare many different kinds of food. It is also very common to help poor people so that their iftars are as rich as possible.

Today I am posting photos of the iftar we were invited to recently by our relatives. I am not fasting but my parents are so I joined their iftar. The atmosphere at iftars is very festive and respectful and food is delicious...


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Caucasian Albanian Temple in Kish

There is a belief that inside the Kish temple there is a spot on the wall where one can make a wish and try to "stick" a coin on the wall just by pressing the coin upon the wall...the coin would stay on the wall only if you are making a wish with a pure/clean heart and if your wish would come true...this kind of a belief about the place means that the place is very sacred...
please see the previous post on the temple for reference...

Monday, October 08, 2007

Caucasian Albanian Temple in Kish

These are pictures of Albanian temple built on the most ancient sanctuary in the territory of former Caucasian Albania in Kish village of Sheki. There are many interesting exhibits in the temple including graves of Albanian people of I-V B.C. There are many ancient Caucasian Albania temples in Azerbaijan. This temple and overall this museum complex was restored with support of Norwegian government. World famous Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer Thor Heyerdahl after his visit to Sheki and Kish said that he believed that ancient Norwegians migrated from Sheki/Kish area...interesting...

Friday, October 05, 2007

Kebab sessions...

Azerbaijan is a country where people like eating meat...yes, we do have vegetarians but not so many...I would say that there is a cult of food especially in the regions including Sheki. People are very attentive to what they are eating, everything is mostly organic and very fresh, the culture of frozen and "ready to eat" food hasn't reached there yet...And one of the most preferred meals of course is "kebab". We do not call it barbeque we call it kebab. There are many kinds of kebabs but the most known and classic is kebab from mutton. Kebabs are prepared on charcoal. I personally think that the smell that comes from the meat oil that drops on charcoal is one of the most appetizing smells in the world. Yes, I am being subjective, because I love to eat kebab. Usually kebabs are prepared by men in Sheki and we say that it is a masculine job, but on these pictures I have women who volunteered to prepare the meal. Also preparation of kebab involves preparations etc. Therefore I am posting some pictures where you can see how people are getting ready to cook. This kebab is being prepared in the mountains in an open air...that is why the scene is so casual...Apologies to people who are fasting...please do not read this post until you open your fast.