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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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UN Geneva open exhibition “The World In Faces”

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On November 24, United Nations Geneva hosts “The World in Faces”, an exhibition of photos by the renowned Russian photographer Alexander Khimushin. The artist personally presented a collection of artistic photos of representatives of different peoples of the world, photographed in authentic national costumes in their habitat. The 170 large artistic portraits of more than 100 indigenous peoples around the world are on display in the main hall of UN Geneva’s Palais des Nations. A big part of the exhibition is dedicated to the indigenous communities of Russia’s Siberia and the Far East.

“It is gratifying that the exhibition at the UN this year takes place as the world celebrates the International Human Rights Day. It is a great pride and honour for me to present my photo project at the UN, especially on this momentous day”, said Alexander Khimushin.

The idea to create a collection of photographic portraits of indigenous peoples in national dress and in their native environment was born in 2014, when Alexander had already accumulated a considerable amount of work done in the most exotic locations – from Samoa and Fiji to Swaziland. Since then, he has never stopped traveling around the world, and his project is growing and becoming a phenomenon.

In 2018, Khimushin went to the Russian Arctic – Taimyr. The result was a series of portraits of the region’s indigenous inhabitants – Dolgans, Nganasans, Enets, Nenets, Evenks.

“Taimyr is unique in that it is a distant, cold place. For me, this was not something new, since I grew up in Yakutia (the Far East of Russia is the cold pole on the planet), but it is the peoples living there – the Nenets, Dolgans, Nganasans, they have a unique culture, their way of life and reindeer husbandry have been preserved. It was interesting to visit, thanks to Norilsk Nickel (The world’s largest producer of palladium, one of the largest producers of Nickel, platinum and copper), to get to these places. I would like to return to Taimyr, shoot more there, if there is such an opportunity, ”the artist noted.

The Norilsk Nickel company, which takes an active part in the fate of the small peoples of the Arctic, supported the Khimushin project.

“Nornickel has always interacted with the indigenous peoples of the Russian North in an atmosphere of friendship and mutual assistance. This year, the company’s relations with the indigenous peoples reached a new level. Based on the UN principles and objectives of sustainable development, we study, with the involvement of leading international experts and the scientific community, the socio-cultural specifics of indigenous life in Taimyr, and the traditions and historical memory of the peoples living in the region. This helps us make our support to indigenous peoples more targeted and effective. Cultural projects and support of traditional folklore and handicrafts are one of the most important components of our projects”, said Mikhail Kuznetsov, Nornickel’s Director of Federal and Regional Programmes.

Nornickel regularly participates in projects intended to foster economic and social development of Taimy’s indigenous communities. In 2020, Nornickel signed a cooperation agreement with organisations representing the interests of the indigenous communities of the North inhabiting the Taimyr Peninsula. Together with them, and based on proposals from the chiefs of indigenous communities, a comprehensive plan for the development of the peoples was developed for a total of RUB 2 bn. The plan is designed for five years. The programme will run until 2024 and includes support for traditional activities, protection of the indigenous habitat, and financing of new homes, hospitals, museums etc.

The photo exhibition will run until December 10, 2021.

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Sezzadio: The small village where the great history of the Aleramici began

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Photo: Pomaro Monferrato Castle (AL). Dresses from the ancient Asti tailor's "Principessa Valentina" by Samantha Panza and coordinated by Gianni Gallo. At the center Walter Siccardi in the role of Aleramo with the Aleramici families represented by the shields (photo by Marco Sala).

Men and women of culture, united by the idea of the Euro-Mediterranean Federation on Ancient Medieval Migration, challenges this difficult period of the pandemic with new historical research activities to rediscover and transmit the desire to return to normality.

As part of the project of “Le Vie Aleramiche Normanno Sveve” in Sezzadio, a village near Alessandria where Aleramo was born had been visited on the initiative of the Mayor, Enzo Daniele, the Councilor for Culture Piercarla Bocchio and the local head of FAI Anna Maria Gobello, collected the texts to create an “Aleramici Library” which will be closely linked to the “Aleramici Research Center of Sezzadio”. Two honorary presidents are members of our technical-scientific committee: Francesco Barone of the University of Catania, one of the leading experts in the Aleramici history of Sicily and Salvatore Lo Re, historian and President of the National History Society of Piazza Armerina, City of foundation aleramica which, soon, will see the Municipal Library enriched with a section dedicated to the study of its origins. Therefore, a study workshop will be commenced to work in synergy with the parallel Sicilian structure: the prestigious Palermo “Officina Studi Medievali” headed by Prof. Diego Ciccarelli.

Sezzadio, the place of origin of this fascinating story: it is said, in fact, that the noble Aleprando, on a pilgrimage to Rome, stopped in this small town near Acqui Terme with his wife about to give birth and that Aleramo was born here. The municipal administration of Sezzadio, after having already undertaken various projects to enhance the small center of Alessandria and installed explanatory signs at the entrance to the village to highlight its extraordinary historical importance, has enthusiastically joined the proposal of the promoters of the project, Fabrizio Di Salvo and the UNESCO Club of Piazza Armerina, (represented by the President Anna Maria Di Rosa Placa and the Secretary Lavinia Garsia) and took the opportunity to give life to a research center that will be formed in network with the Workshop of Medieval Studies in Palermo and the research activity in Piazza Armerina, a real study center dedicated to ancient medieval immigration “on the contrary”.

The fundamental activity was Fabrizio Di Salvo’s visit to Sezzadio last summer which allowed to define the membership of the Municipality of Sezzadio to the Euro-Mediterranean Federation on Ancient Medieval Migrations, by virtue of which it benefits from the support of the Coordinator for Northern Italy, Nadia Ghizzi.

The work of identifying the texts and training the library was supported by our technical-scientific committee which boasts among its ranks the Byzantinist Walter Haberstumpf, Prof. Salvatore Trovato, former professor of Linguistics and Glottology at the Department of Humanities of the University of Catania, the Director of Sibrium Magazine and President of the Center for Prehistoric and Archaeological Studies of Varese Lucilla Caramella, Luigi Piano, the President of “Italia Medievale”, Maurizio Calì, (who collaborated directly in the creation of the library), as well as the teachers and researchers of prestigious international universities, such as the distinguished medievalist Henri Bresc and Joanna Drell of the University of Richmond in the USA.

To realize the intent of making culture available to all, it is essential to give our research a European breath and make people understand how much the history of the Middle Ages, which took place in a Europe different from the current one, was well-defined in its supranational scope. The project connected France, Italy, and Germany and, in particular, the Municipalities of Hauteville-La-Guichard in France, (where the myth has it that Tancredi, the future lord of Hauteville and progenitor of the Altavilla family, saves the life of Duke Riccardo II of Normandy on a hunting trip); of Göppingen, in Baden-Württemberg near Stuttgart, (where tradition has it that the Swabian dynasty was born) and of Piazza Armerina, a city in Sicily founded by Aleramici in the 12th century. The cultural triangulation will also expand in Sezzadio, in the spirit of continuing to create links between historically similar realities and, currently, it takes the form of collaboration between the municipal administrations, anticipating and preparing the future twinning.

Thanks to the dedication of those who embraced and developed the project from the beginning, today, the Euro Mediterranean Federation for Ancient Medieval Migrations stands out for the adhesion of important figures from the world of culture, of high-level institutions, such as the Library of Alexandria of Egypt, of numerous Italian Municipalities, of Universities and Associations. Despite the interruptions due to the pandemic, the Project has given rise to numerous initiatives such as conferences, lectures, and meetings, and the production of a documentary film shot in the European lands touched by this research: Piedmont, Sicily, France, Turkey, Germany, Greece, and Ukraine.

A powerful work, curated for four years by Fabrizio Di Salvo, which collects precious contributions from excellent scholars and returns the atmosphere of medieval Europe thanks to the choice of splendid locations, such as the Castle of Pomaro in Monferrato, to the costumes of the ancient Samantha Panza’s “Principessa Valentina” tailoring from Asti-Italy and coordinated by Gianni Gallo. The exceptional protagonist is the actor Walter Siccardi, an extraordinary interpreter in the role of Aleramo. The shields that recall the emblems of the Aleramici dynasties and parts of the sets used for the shooting will be donated by the Euro-Mediterranean Federation to the Aleramici Research Center in Sezzadio.

We will continue our incessant work of research and historical reconstruction, hoping that it will create opportunities for recovery, resilience, and increasingly nourish the dialogue between people who are only apparently distant.

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Squid Game, Style influence and Sustainable consumption

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Photo source: Netflix

Have you heard about the recent South Korean drama blockbuster named Squid Game yet? It was released on Netflix on Sept. 17, 2021, and has quickly earned a worldwide audience. Since debuting, it has been viewed by more than 100 million people and has become the no. 1 trending in top 10 lists in 94 countries around the world.

Not only topped the list, but the South Korean drama has also created a trend that has influenced fashion style around the world and dominated the online platforms such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, and several online shopping websites: Amazon, eBay, Shoppee, and so on.  On Google.com, you will find more than 223,000,000 results in only 0.53 seconds; on Amazon.com, the term “Squid Game costume” has also become a top finding, even when you have just typed only two characters “sq”, the full term “Squid Game costume” will appear and you can find more than a thousand of results about this kind of clothes. 6,150 results for Squid Game costume appear when searching on eBay. On Instagram and Facebook, the hashtag #SquidGameCostume has recently become the most popular key hashtag and could be the influent style this winter.

Unlike trending superhero movies like Captain American, Avengers, with characters wearing specialized and inconvenient costumes for daily use, “Squid Game” is full of players wearing banal teal-green tracksuits. And this style of wearing tracksuits has been promoted by luxury fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton and Channel in recent years, because of its convenience and full of fashion, suitable for almost everyone from children, young people, and adults. That’s why the seemingly simple tracksuits in “Squid Game” turned out to be more trending.

The green tracksuit will likely become popular because of its convenience and ease of production, but it’s not the only known outfit, one that’s probably even more sought-after is the set of hot pink boiler suits and black masks watch the spectacle. Halloween is just around the corner, this type of costume has the potentiality to become another “red jumpsuits and Salvador Dalí masks” – a phenomenon that comes from the previous hit Money Heist.  Clearly, Squid Game costume could be a perfect choice for the one who is looking for the new and trending Halloween costume, and fashion influencers may have to queue in line after Squid Game this Halloween and winter.

With marketing strategies in all aspects that an ordinary person can reach just by picking up the smartphone, it is not difficult for “Squid Game” to be accessible through advertisements, and finding a way to win in marketing could be more easily for fashion companies and even companies that are not engaged in the fashion industry. Netflix even sells Squid Game t-shirts and hoodies on its website, and it seems that marketing the products of trending movies will become the marketing trend in the future.

However, from the environmentalist or sustainable consumption supporters’ perspective, the influences of the fads can go against what they’re pursuing. Sustainable consumption is the use of services and related products, which responds to basic needs and brings a better quality of life while minimizing the use of natural resources and toxic materials as well as the emissions of waste and pollutants over the life cycle of the service or product so as not to jeopardize the needs of future generations. Sustainable consumption is closely related to sustainable production and sustainable lifestyles. When thinking about the relationship of a hot trend like Squid Game and its influence, we could see the 4M plus model (4M +) including Mass media marketing -Mass outfit obsession – Mass production – Mass consumption, and the plus could be the Mass damage for the environment. It may seem to be not a kind of mass production if it only happens once in a blue moon and only happens for one movie/show, but in fact, it is an unstoppable game that every director wants to win. Fashion’s influence could be a tool to reach the top trending show of the year and also be a push for the fashion industry and consumption later.

So, is the top trending show doing well in marketing and promoting fashion consumption by creating style influence, definitely Yes, but is it promoting sustainable consumption? I am not sure.

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