The South Caucasus nation is house to a number of areas recognized for producing residents who reside to triple-figure ages, together with Lankaran and Nagorno-Karabakh. However one other, Lerik, is reputed to have the best focus of centenarians.
On this emerald land excessive above the clouds within the Talysh Mountains, reached by loop after loop of a serpentine street, folks appear to have found a secret to a protracted and wholesome life.
The Museum of Longevity
The 2-room Museum of Longevity, in-built 1991 and renovated in 2010, holds greater than 2,000 displays documenting the lives and reminiscences of the area’s oldest inhabitants.
It charts particular person lifespans with the home goods that they’ve outlived, resembling three generations of clothes irons. There are chests crammed with headscarves and shirts, silver pitchers and bowls, superbly knitted socks, and hand-dyed rugs which might be nonetheless brightly coloured regardless of their age.
After which there are the letters, written in each Azerbaijani and Russian — private artifacts so previous that the ink is beginning is fade.
Maybe probably the most fascinating options are the portraits of centenarians that cowl the museum’s partitions. These pictures, courting from the Nineteen Thirties, have been donated by French photographer Frederic Lachop.
The museum, and official Azerbaijan statistics, outline “centenarian” extra loosely than you’d count on: Right here, it means anybody over 90 years previous.
Nevertheless, again in 1991, there have been greater than 200 folks in Lerik registered as being greater than 100 years previous, out of a inhabitants of 63,000.
Numbers have been much less spectacular since then, which locals blame variously on radiation from communication towers and environmental decline, however may simply as simply be all the way down to extra rigorous record-keeping.
At this time, there are 11 folks greater than 100 years previous, out of a neighborhood inhabitants of 83,800.
The story of the 168-year-old man
Is that this the world’s oldest man ever? Maybe not.
Lerik’s present oldest citizen is Raji Ibrahimova, at 105 years. That is a advantageous classic, but it surely pales compared to the age apparently reached by space’s most celebrated centenarian, Shirali Muslumov, a shepherd who supposedly lived to be 168.
The telephone book of his passport declare that he was born in 1805 and his headstone states that he died in 1973. If true, it will make the the oldest individual to have ever lived.
Sadly, again within the early nineteenth century, delivery registrations not often came about in such distant villages as his birthplace of Barzavu, so there isn’t a certifable file of when he was born.
Numerous letters despatched from everywhere in the world on his varied birthdays depart little doubt that he was certainly of a really respectable age, but it surely’s maybe greatest to consider a minimal 20-year margin of error.
Amongst these corresponding with Muslumov have been Vietnamese communist chief Ho Chi Minh, who despatched a postcard greeting him with the endearment, “Expensive Grandpa.”
This longevity gene appears to run within the household. His 95-year-old daughter, Halima Qambarova, tells CNN Journey that — whereas she won’t reside to 168, like her father — she no less than hopes to reside to the age of 150, like her grandfather, or 130, like her aunt.
‘Stillness of the thoughts’
Sitting by the window, wrapped in a scarf, she speaks with a slight accent, switching usually to her native language of Talysh, a dialect spoken by simply 200,000 folks and labeled as “weak” by UNESCO.
She reveals off her passport, which does not record a month or date of delivery, solely the yr: 1924. She could also be 95, however she is absolutely current, interacting together with her great-grandchildren, and demonstrating her full of life humorousness. When requested her age, she cheerfully replies, “15.”
“Stillness of the thoughts is a part of their secret,” the museum information says. “They keep away from stress, excited about life fairly philosophically, residing in the future at a time, with out a lot planning or fear for the long run.”
Good vitamin and pure cures
Halima Qanbarova is a younger factor of 95. Her grandfather is alleged to have lived to 150, her father to 168, and her aunt to 130.
Qambarova’s day begins at daybreak; she would not let herself sleep in. “I rise up as quickly as my eyes open,” she says.
She spends the entire day working within the backyard or round the home. Her room is small, with a thick comfortable carpet and pillows on the ground. Many individuals right here favor sleeping on the bottom, with only a skinny blanket as a substitute of a mattress, because it’s believed to be the healthiest approach to relaxation the again.
Opposite to common perception, the centenarians of Lerik do eat meat, however they inherited a choice for contemporary dairy merchandise resembling shor (cottage cheese), butter, milk and the yoghurt drink ayran from earlier centenarians, for whom the abstinence from meat was extra resulting from financial circumstance.
Qambarova’s daughter-in-law brings in a giant plate with pears and apples from their backyard and a few fragrant tea.
It is natural, floral and refreshing. Again on the museum, the information reveals a desk with the assorted herbs native to Lerik.
“The key of lengthy life is nice vitamin, the minerals within the spring water and the herbs that we add to tea to stop diseases, so folks do not should take any medication, solely utilizing the pure cures,” says the information. Certainly, Qambarova insists she’s by no means taken any treatment.
Generations residing facet by facet
Past her home windows, it might appear that the village is quiet and nonetheless. However the bodily work that villagers put in day-after-day is immense. From dawn till sundown they work in gardens and fields in addition to round the home. They sew and knit and deal with large households.
Such was the approach to life of Mammadkhan Abbasov, a 103-year-old from Jangamiran village. Sitting on the carpet, throughout from the window, the centenarian has nearly fully misplaced his sight and might barely hear his son telling him that friends have arrived, however when he lastly catches it, he begins singing, providing prayers and good needs.
At Abbasov’s facet is his nice grandson — a century hole between them.
Identical to Qambarova, Abbasov has been a busy villager his complete life, working within the fields till about seven years in the past, when his imaginative and prescient deteriorated.
‘No matter God offers’
Lerik is testomony to the advantages of contemporary mountain air.
“He has all the time been a superb man and lived his life correctly,” his son says.
By way of meals, he eats “no matter God offers” with only one restriction — he by no means drinks alcohol.
Abbasov attributes his lengthy life to day by day bodily exercise, to not the purpose of exhaustion, however sufficient to problem the physique.
Together with the nice vitamin from the farm merchandise, he additionally used to drink liters of ice-cold spring water, which is wealthy with minerals mentioned to contribute to longevity.
The headache-inducing altitudes of mountains may additionally be an element.
The ages of a few of these celebrated centenarians should still be disputed, however right here in Lerik their legacy lives on by means of the folks that also abide by the easy secret of Lerik’s longevity: bodily exercise, good vitamin, a number of water and an perspective to life that claims: We solely reside as soon as, but when we do it proper, as soon as is sufficient.
Museum of Longevity, 22 A.Asadullayev avenue, Lerik, Azerbaijan; (025) 274-47-11