The village of Laza

Employee of the archaeological museum in the village of Chukhur-Gabala

Ruins of the fortress walls and towers in Gabala, one of capitals of Caucasus Albania (1st century BC – 8th century AD). Although devastated by the Persians in the 6th century, the town remained a large trading center until the 15th century. Some scholars believe the Lezgins, Udins and some of the Azerbaijanis to trace their origins from the population of Caucasus Albania. Today the area is chiefly populated by Azerbaijanis and Lezgins, but it is said that Udins formerly accounted for the majority of the local population.

Men tasting wine. The village of Vartashen. Nukha Uyezd. Elizabethpol Guberniya.

Late 19th – early 20th century. Udins

The Udins (at least part of them) practiced Christianity, Albania’s state religion since the 4th century, despite the gradual Islamization of the entire region. The Udins’ customs and traditions are not unlike those of their neighbours; what distinguishes them from Muslims, however, is their viticulture. During the Soviet period Udin sovkhozes (i.e. state-owned farms) began to rear pigs, an activity that was alien to Lezgin and Azerbaijanian farms. Today, local custom dictates that pork should not be served at wedding feasts in case there might be some Azerbaijanian guests present.

Khayal, who was born in the village of Soltan-Nukha, now lives in the town of Gabala. He still owns a few hazel trees in his native village, where his relatives take care of them and get part of the income from hazelnut sales as remuneration. Soltan-Nukha. Lezgins

The village of Soltan-Nukha is currently populated by Lezgins and Azerbaijanis.

Presumably, the Udin language used to be spoken in this area.

Countryside surrounding the village of Durja

In Azerbaijan, the Lezgins used to be regarded as top sheep-farmers in the days of the Soviet Union. However, according to ethnographer S.S. Agashirinova, this economic sector was less highly developed with Azerbaijan’s Lezgins than it was with the Lezgins of Dagestan.

Old house. This type of lodging is characteristic of the Kutkashen District. The village of Laza. Kutkashen District. Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. 1971. Lezgins

The village of Durja

The humid climate has determined the construction of houses with tall hipped roofs.

The village of Durja. The humid climate has determined the construction of houses with tall hipped roofs.

Old house. This type of lodging is characteristic of the Kutkashen District. The village of Laza. Kutkashen District. Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. 1971. Lezgins

Women and children standing near a summer kitchen built from reeds.

The village of Laza. Kutkashen District. Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. 1971. Lezgins

Women and children. The village of Laza. Kutkashen District.

Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. 1971. Lezgins

The village of Durja. Lezgins

Although the Lezgin population accounts for about a half of the local residents, the Lezgic language is gradually going out of use. It is only the older generation that still communicates in Lezgic.

The village of Durja. Lezgins

The village of Durja has now turned into a dacha community. Members of only five households out of 180 stay there during winter. Ruslan is one of those few. He collects and restores copies of the Quran, having accumulated a collection of over fifty books.

Residents of the village of Kyusnet. Standing in the centre is a master potter wearing a padded sleeveless jacket.

Kutkashen District. Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. 1971. Lezgins

Structure housing a kiln. The village of Kyusnet. Kutkashen District.

Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. 1971. Lezgins

The village of Durja. Lezgins

Rural street in Laza. Kutkashen District. Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. 1971

Woman arranging wool for drying. The village of Laza. Kutkashen District. Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. 1971. Lezgins

Man wearing a koval (Azerbaijani kyurk) sheepskin coat. This type of coat, worn in the 1970s only by the elderly, used to be made by local furriers. The village of Laza. Kutkashen District. Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. 1971. Lezgins

The village of Durja. Lezgins

Samovars are widespread in every part of Azerbaijan and Southern Dagestan. Highly valued are old branded specimens from Tula, a traditional Russian centre for samovar manufacture. Tea, unsweetened, is sipped from glasses through a cube of sugar or with jam.

Female resident of the village of Vartashen.

Nukha Uyezd. Elizabethpol Guberniya. 1883. Udins

The village of Durja. Lezgins

The village of Laza

The gorges lead to the mountains in the direction of the state boundary which has cut off Azerbaijan from Dagestan.

The village of Laza. ьLezgins

Mr Khalilov (right), designer at the Kutkashen community centre, with his mother and father. The woman is wearing a traditional headgear of kerchiefs tied in the head-hugger fashion. The man has on a tall papakha sheepskin hat. The village of Laza. Kutkashen District. Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. 1971. Lezgins

Men striking a pose. Second on the right: Mr Osmanov, director of the community centre in Kutkashen; far right: Mr Khalilov, designer at the Kutkashen community centre. The village of Laza. Kutkashen District. Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. 1971. Lezgins

The village of Laza. Lezgins

Woman knitting kyulyut socks. The village of Kyusnet. Kutkashen District. Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. 1971. Lezgins

Woman and her children. The village of Laza. Kutkashen District. Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. 1971. Lezgins

Residents of the village of Laza. The woman said that many of her fellow-villagers are now living in Russia, including her own daughter, a schoolteacher by profession, and granddaughter, who have moved to Saint-Petersburg. Lezgins