Thursday, 25 October 2012

The Alphabetical Tourist: Azerbaijan

Photo: Nick Taylor
I haven't ventured out on my tour around the world for some time now.  It's been so long that a country that might have been privy to my next virtual visit has been and gone.  That veritable source of information Wiki, showed Azawad as an unrecognised sovereign state for a brief  period before it got absorbed back into Mali again.   As its disappeared into the ether from a listings point of view, I have instead moved on to Azerbaijan for a brief look around to discover what floats my boat in this former Soviet State.

Seeing that vulcanology could be one of my preferred careers in my next life,  I'm rather drawn to these mud volcanoes, many of which are situated  a brief jaunt away from the capital Baku.  Azerbaijan has about 400 of these, over half the world's total and occasionally they'll shoot flames  into the sky.  Yikes, lets hope that they behave themselve as I go off exploring ths claggy landscape and get covered in  gloopy stuff which is supposed to have medicinal properties.

Photo: Azeri
Before I head off out of the Gobustan National Park, a World Heritage Site, where many of the volcanoes are situated I can't leave without showing you this gorgeous petroglyph, apparently one of many in the area, which dating back to 10,000 BC, give or take a bit of course.  I'd like to qualify this for the pedantic among you.  The site is believed to be one of the 'cradles of civilisation' and these dinky stickmen, their animals and boats were uncovered by quarrying activity in the 1930s.

Photo: Johntex
Whilst macho activities such as football, rugby and freestyle wrestling, the country's national sport are popular, ladies shouldn't feel at all left out. The Seven Beauties contest is where, armed with crochet hooks and different coloured threads, girls compete zealously to crochet the finest stockings in the shortest possible time. Yikes it's Miss World with needles!  Just the thing when women are itching for a little excitement in our lives!

Work: Rashad Alakbarov
And finally, here's the work of the man who lured me away from my cosy home in rural Devon to resume my Internet travels again.  I stumbled upon the work of native Azerbaijani, Rashad Alakbarov.  Be amazed at how this artist use translucent found objects to create amazing projected forms and I urge you to explore further following the link.  It beats my own shadow speciality, even if it is a  rather credible Alsation dog, hands down!

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