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Intercultural Dialogue reflected in Nakhchivan’s Cultural Monuments

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] U [/yt_dropcap]nder the patronage of the President of Azerbaijan H. E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev, Baku will be hosting the 4th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue on May 5-6, 2017. The topic of this year’s Forum is: “Advancing Intercultural Dialogue: New Avenues for Human Security, Peace and Sustainable Development;” it is being organized in cooperation with UNESCO, UN Alliance of Civilizations and other prestigious international organizations.

As many influential international delegations will be visiting the Azerbaijani capital city of Baku; after the closing ceremony of the 4th Forum they ought to undertake a visit to the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan, the westernmost province of Azerbaijan, which is an important landmark that uniquely depicts many developmental stages of human history, with monuments that reflect an elevated level of intercultural dialogue in the Eurasian landmass and beyond. While Nakhchivan has been facing a heavy Armenian economic blockade for over two decades, its government under the leadership of Nakhchivan’s Chairman of Supreme Assembly, the Honorable Vasif Yusif oğlu Talibov, has made important improvements, accomplishments towards the restoration of historical and cultural monuments in this region of Azerbaijan. Indeed, immediately upon their arrival, international dignitaries will find Nakhchivan to be worth the visit, after experiencing the majestic beauty of: the Momuna Khatun tomb (Mausoleum); the Garabaghlar tomb and the tomb of Yusif ibn Kuseyir.

The Momuna Khatun tomb (mausoleum) is a historical and architectural monument built in the city of Nakhchivan by Ajami Abubakr oglu Nakhchivani, the founder of Azerbaijani school of architecture and a very influential scholar to various European architecture schools.

The Momuna Khatun tomb, is a magnificent monument of Azerbaijan’s national architecture and a pearl of Eastern cultural monuments and architecture design. It was built in the Western side of Nakhchivan in 1186 and Shamsaddin Eldaniz, the founder of Azerbaijan’s Atabaylar State, gave the order to erect this monument above the tomb of his wife, Momuna Khatun. Its construction was finished by Mahammad Jahan Pahlavan, the son of the ruler, in April 1186.

At the top of this monument is written in Cufic inscription: “We pass away but only the wind is left behind us. While we die only labor and works remain as a gift.” The total height of the monument is 34 meters, later its cover of 8 meters tall was destroyed. This tomb consists of an underground (vault) and of high rising walls covered by rare works of art where overwhelming light blue contours make this cultural monument an architecture masterpiece where intercultural dialogue and historical treasures are softly intertwined.

According to M. V. Alpatov, a distinguished art historian: “The Momuna Khatun tomb in Nakhchivan is a monument of rare beauty;” it profoundly reflects the main theme of Nizami Ganjavi’s book entitled “Layla and Majnun.”

The Garabaghlar tomb is a historic and architectural monument of the Middle Ages located in Garabaghlar village of Kangarli region, it is an invaluable cultural treasure that has been recently restored and polished. In addition to the tomb there are the remnants of a double minaret and a religious building in the nearby courtyard.

The double minaret structure was built at the end of XII century and concluded at the beginning of XIII century; however, the head arch joining the minarets was added in the XIV century. This monument was built by Hulaku Khan to honor his wife Guti Khatin. In the oval shape placed on top of the minaret is written in Arabic: “The sign of God is Guti Khatin, and Turkmen.”

The walls shaping a structure of twelve angles over ground were built of stones and its dome was built with locally baked bricks. The outside layers of the Garabaghlar Tomb walls are decorated with inscriptions and geometric ornaments covered with red and turquoise glazed bricks; that are awaiting international visitors to appreciate and immerse into the depths of Nakhchivani culture, an important cornerstone in the Azerbaijani heritage of multicultural dialogue and religious tolerance. The content of these inscriptions is: “there is one God, but God’s follower is Mohammad,” it is written vertically several times inside this monument, which has four head arches (covered with blueish glaze and decorated with geometrical and botanical designs) and contains many phrases written in Naskh calligraphy. This cultural monument was built by Ahmad Ayyub oglu Hafiz Nakhchivani, the designer of Barda tomb, who has been very influential to the French architecture school in the XI Century.

Nakhchivan is the land of prophet Noah, an important figure of Islamic culture that has been at a center stage of Mesopotamian literature, Sumerian and Ancient Greek religious scriptures.

Another unique monument is the Tomb of Yusif Kuseyir Oglu, an architectural landmark in the city of Nakhchivan. It is situated in the avenue of Khiyabani, locally known as the dome of Atababa. This monument was restored at the beginning of XX Century. The monument consists of a well maintained underground vault and an aboveground tower shape section.

The aboveground section of the monument is octagonal inside and outside. The thickness of the walls is 80 cm and it was built by baked bricks (with the size of 20x20x4,5cm).

It has a prism shape with a pyramid shape outside and spherical dome inside. It is truly a rare structure of double dome that has reached our time. The tomb of Usif Kuseyir Oglu is the only monument in the Caucasus region thanks to its characteristic tower shape and architectural features that are intertwined together with cultural influences and religious art work.

There is no doubt that international delegations to the Fourth World Forum on International Dialogue will find a source of inspiration and bolster their knowledge in intercultural dialogue by feeling the pulse of Azerbaijani history in Nakhchivan.

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2018 Crystal Award: Leading artists who are bridge-builders and role models for all leaders of society

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Actor Cate Blanchett, musician Elton John and actor Shah Rukh Khan are the recipients of the 24th Annual Crystal Award, the World Economic Forum announced today. The winners will be honoured at the opening session of the Forum’s Annual Meeting 2018 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, on the evening of Monday, 22 January. The award celebrates the achievements of leading artists who are bridge-builders and role models for all leaders of society.

“We heartily congratulate the 24th Annual Crystal awardees. Their commitment to dignity and to the upholding of essential human values serves as an inspiration to us all, particularly in these trying times when compassion is needed more than ever,” said Hilde Schwab, Chairwoman and Co-Founder of the World Economic Forum’s World Arts Forum, which gives out the awards.

Awardees

Cate Blanchett, for her leadership in raising awareness of the refugee crisis
Cate Blanchett is an internationally acclaimed award-winning actor and director of both stage and screen. Appointed a UNHCR Global Goodwill Ambassador in 2016, in recognition of her commitment to refugees, she has lent her voice and influence to raising awareness, advocating and fundraising for the UNHCR. Having met refugees in countries including Lebanon, Jordan and her home country, Australia, she advocates for increased solidarity and responsibility sharing for the 65 million-plus displaced people across the world. She has brought her creative skills to bear in sharpening focus on the individual human stories that lie behind the vast numbers.  Blanchett said: “As a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, my job is simple: to help connect people to the human stories of those forced to flee, and to state the case for all of us to stand with refugees.”

Sir Elton John, for his leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS
Sir Elton John is one of the world’s most successful musical solo artists of all time, whose career has spanned more than five decades. With thirty-five Gold and twenty-five Platinum albums, he has sold more than 250 million records worldwide. In 1992, he established the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF), which today is one of the leading non-profit HIV/AIDS organizations. EJAF has raised more than $400 million to date to support hundreds of HIV/AIDS prevention, service and advocacy programmes around the globe. In 1998, HM Queen Elizabeth knighted him Sir Elton John, Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his services to music and charitable causes. Sir Elton John recently received the Harvard Foundation’s Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award. John said: “AIDS is the leading cause of death for women of childbearing age, yet the medicine and know-how exists to prevent this. If we want to give the next generation a better future, we could solve this problem. What it takes is our collective passion and compassion.”

Shah Rukh Khan, for his leadership in championing children’s and women’s rights in India
Shah Rukh Khan is one of Bollywood’s most prominent actors who has been at the forefront of the Indian film and television industry for over 30 years. He is the founder of the non‐profit Meer Foundation, which provides support to female victims of acid attacks and major burn injuries through medical treatment, legal aid, vocational training, rehabilitation and livelihood support. He has also been responsible for the creation of specialized children’s hospital wards and has supported childcare centres with free boarding for children undergoing cancer treatment. Khan said: “With victims of acid attacks I have had the privilege to witness the unparalleled courage and compassion that women are capable of. I have seen the transformative strength of goodness and the healing power of gentleness.”

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New Museum on Underwater Archaeology opens in Mexico

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Photo: UNICEF

On December 5th 2017 the new Museum of Underwater Archaeology opened in the 18th century fortress of Reducto San Jose el Alto, in Campeche, Mexico.

The museum was designated by the 6th session of the Meeting of States Parties to the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage as a Best Practice of access to underwater cultural heritage. It has been considered one of the most important in underwater archaeology in the Latin America and Caribbean Region by Xavier Nieto Prieto, Vice-President of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Body to the 2001 Convention (STAB) at the opening event, where Helena Barba and Michel L’Hour, also members of the STAB attended.

The Museum contains spectacular finds from Mexican cenotes and from historical shipwrecks as well as a collection that retraces all the Mexican history through the archaeological sites found under water. The Museum uses new technologies to reconstruct sites and is illustrated with different media platforms on the history of the discoveries.

Designed to preserve the underwater cultural heritage, the 2001 Convention seeks to promote public access to this heritage and to stimulate archaeological research. The Museum of Underwater Archaeology of Campeche is an example of how the submerged heritage can be shared with the society for its benefit and enjoyment.

The museum has also been evaluated as a Best Practice concerning Underwater Cultural Heritage by the STAB. The STAB is an Advisory Body compound of 12 experts elected by the Meeting of States Parties. It provides advice and assistance in technical matters in the national implementation of the 2001 Convention and in the observance of the Rules of its Annex in all activities directed at the underwater cultural heritage. The STAB recommended, during the 5th session of the Meeting of States Parties (2015), to promote examples of best practices worldwide. These initiatives include maritime heritage museums, scuba diving routes, virtual exhibitions, and other cultural activities.

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UNESCO Launches Global Report Re-shaping Cultural Policies

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Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, together with Annika Markovic, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Sweden to UNESCO, representing  Alice Bah Kuhnke, the Swedish Minister for Culture and Democracy, launched on 14 December UNESCO’s new 2018 Global Report, Re| Shaping Cultural Policies.

(more…)

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