The Azerbaijan State News Agency


Colorful villages of Azerbaijan: Ivanovka and other Molokan villages

Baku, March 15, AZERTAC

Russian Molokans moved to Azerbaijan in the first half of the 19th century and to this day live compactly here in several villages. The most famous Molokan village is Ivanovka, located in the Ismayilli region and today it is the only well-preserved major center not just of Russian rural culture, but also of Molokan faith, traditions and customs. Ivanovka is the oldest and largest of the Molokan villages on the territory of Azerbaijan, whose age exceeds 200 years. But this is not the only Molokan village: several other villages are known in Shemakha, Gedabek and other regions of the country.

Nefteran, two Ivanovka and milk

The village Ivanovka is located in the valley between the rivers Goychay and Devebatan in the mountains of Ajinohur at an altitude of 500-800 meters above sea level. The total area of the village is more than 8 thousand hectares. The road to the village is well-groomed. Ivanovka, which preserved all its customs, traditions, folklore and way of life, is located 14 km from the district center of Ismayilli region.

The original name of Ivanovka is Nefteran. The village was renamed in honor of Colonel Grigory Nikiforovich Ivanov, who led the migration of Molokans to Azerbaijan. Judging by the inscription on the gravestone, he first settled in this place in 1852.

In Azerbaijan, the Russians moved mainly from the central black-earth regions of Russia. These immigrants represented religious sects (Molokans, Dukhobors, Baptists, Subbotniks and Jumpers) that arose at the end of the 17th - the middle of the 18th century. and persecuted by the state. Thus, the Russian government tried, on the one hand, to get rid of recalcitrant heretics, and on the other hand, by colonizing new lands, to create paramilitary settlements on the borders with Iran and Turkey.

Ivanovka's peculiarity lies in the fact that initially the village was located in different parts of Azerbaijan. The last place was not far from the current location of the village - towards Gabala on the banks of the Ah-Oh river. There is a legend that this river received its name from Molokan complaints about the difficulties that they experienced while living on its shore. The matter is that the Molokans, who settled on the bank of the river near the water, did not expect that they would begin to suffer from various diseases. In addition, one day in this area there was a severe flood. The flow of water was so strong that it demolished a huge number of nearby houses of Molokan families. Residents gathered on the shore loudly lamented, issuing exclamations of "Ah!" And "Oh!". Since then, this river has become so called.

After these cases, several people from that village went in search of a new place to settle. One of them - Ivan Pershin came to the place of the present Ivanovka. Then there was no shelter here - only forests and fertile land. But there was one drawback - there was no water. Nevertheless, people moved to this place, began to cut down the forest and build dwellings. So Ivanovka appeared, and it was more than 200 years ago. Now it is not certain whether the new Ivanovka was named in honor of Colonel Ivanov or a simple resident of the village of Ivan Pershin. At first, water had to be carried from a neighboring lake. Later, several ponds were dug out, where rainwater was collected, which they used for their needs.

Among other Russian settlements of Azerbaijan, Ivanovka stands out as a unique story. Residents of Ivanovka call themselves "Molokans". The word " Molokans " means people who eat pure, like milk, the word of God. Molokans were exiled for not wanting to accept Russian church reform and adhered to the Old Believers. In the XVIII century, the Old Believers were exiled to Astrakhan, to the bank of the Molochnaya River in the Melitopol Uyezd, so they eventually became known as Molokans. According to others, their name is associated with the non-recognition of Orthodox fasts and the use of milk in fasting, others associate the name with their preference for eating milk in prisons and armies, since this food could not be cooked using pork that Molokans do not eat.

The only source of belief in the Molokans is the Bible. Molokans do not recognize the saints, the sacrament, they do not have icons, temples, priests, do not take up arms. Molokans do not have the custom for Orthodox churches. Religious services and rites they spend in homes. And on Sundays the whole community is going to the service.

One way or another, but the migration of Molokans in the first half of the XIX century to Azerbaijan was part of the tsarist policy of the Russification of the conquered territories. The inhabitants of the village initially had very good relations with the local population, as the Molokan faith largely coincides with Islam: pork is not allowed, alcohol can not be consumed, etc.

As people who are deeply religious, Molokans are mostly not exposed to such harmful habits as alcohol and tobacco, and the modern generation is brought up in accordance with the established immutable Molokan traditions. They do not swear, they are afraid of God, and everyone works on the collective farm. Leaving the house, no one locks the door. And the highest authority in this village is the Council of Elders.

The exemplary "Kolkhoz"

Molokans always distinguished extraordinary honesty. If the Molokans found a lost ax, a cow, a horse, etc., in the field or in the forest, they searched for the possible owner of the find in their village, and then went round all the neighboring villages until they found the one who had lost. The local population enjoyed all these qualities of Molokans.

Men-Molokans traditionally must wear a beard. So all men over the age of 40 are bearded here. You can not die without a beard. Old men, with long white beards and in the traditional long Russian kosovorotke are like heroes of Russian fairy tales.

Thanks to a healthy, active lifestyle and favorable ecology, Molokans have always been distinguished by excellent health and a high percentage of long-livers. The average life expectancy among them is 80 years.

Situated right in the middle of the village is an artificial lake - a place of rest for residents and guests. It is said that this lake and the adjacent park play the role of a showcase. Boys and girls are walking here, meet and choose their bride and groom.

Ivanovka is also famous for its disco, which attracts even more tourists. All the year round at the end of the week in winter in the Culture Center, and in the summer outdoors dancing is arranged.

Three-wheeled motorcycles are still a popular mode of transport in Ivanovka. This transport is indispensable in their collective farm economy. Riding a motorcycle is one of the types of entertainment offered here.

In 1936 a collective farm («Kolkhoz») named after Voroshilov was formed in the village of Ivanovka. The local people almost unanimously joined the collective farm without thinking. To the collective farm, the villagers are accustomed quickly. The collective farm began to develop rapidly. But the Great Patriotic War began and all able-bodied healthy men were taken to the war. As elsewhere, in Ivanovka there were women and children who replaced husbands and fathers in fields and other jobs. Women did everything they could to keep the collective farm, but because of the lack of labor, the collective farm weakened. During the Great Patriotic War from Ivanovka, 700 men were called to the war (300 of them gave their lives for their homeland). And after the war, even for 10 years, local people could not raise the collective farm to the level of pre-war years.

It was at this time (October 1953) that the 27-year-old Nikolai Vasilyevich Nikitin stood at the head of the neglected, impoverished collective farm. In 1958 the collective farm was named after Kalinin. For many years of permanent management of the collective farm, Nikolai Vasilyevich brought the farm to the most advanced, making him a collective farm-millionaire. From that time until the present years, the collective farm regularly receives high yields of cereals and high milk yields.

Nikitin himself became the Hero of Socialist Labor and a professor of agricultural sciences. Nikolai Vasilevich devoted 43 years of his life to the collective farm. During the permanent chairmanship, Nikolai Vasilyevich Nikitin has established himself not only as an intelligent, visionary business executive, but also as a sensitive, caring leader who understands the needs of his fellow villagers. It is worth noting one fact. In the 70s of the last century, he managed to establish a barter exchange with Finland and Bulgaria. Instead of supplying garlic, collective farmers were provided with high-quality imported furniture.

In 1994, Nikolai Nikitin died, and the collective farm lives to this day. After the collapse of the USSR, all the collective farms fell into decay and were liquidated. The collective farm was preserved only in Ivanovka, where the system of collective social labor still functions, and now bears the name of the legendary chairman Nikitin, who for many years headed the collective farm.

Today the Nikitin collective farm is a prosperous farm with its own repair base, a powerful auto farm, a sawmill, a farm of breeding cattle, summer and winter pastures with huge sheds for small cattle, a dairy farm, a poultry farm, brick and tile factories. Here there is a bakery, supplying villagers with wonderful Molokansky bread, a sunflower creamery, a milk processing plant, a cheese and sour cream workshop. The products of this collective farm has won recognition throughout Azerbaijan.

Brothers forever

The population of Ivanovka exceeds 3,100 people. In addition to the Molokans, many Lezgins and Azerbaijanis live in Ivanovka. Out of more than 1,070 houses - 82 houses belong to Lezgi and 50 houses to Azerbaijani families.

Houses in Ivanovka are ancient, classical standard wooden buildings with carved platbands. The rows of houses are separated by wide streets. In all houses there is a garden where fruits, melons, corn, sunflower are grown. In Ivanovka there is a secondary school, a hospital, kindergartens, a liaison office, two TV stations, stadiums, a shopping center, shops, pharmacies.

The pride of the village of Ivanovka is a huge Palace of Culture, built under Nikitin. Luxurious, with theatrical lodges. Soft chairs in the spacious hall for 700 seats were once intended for the Baku Opera and Ballet Theater. In the old days Russian artists came here on tour. At one time the Palace of Culture was the most beautiful in the entire Soviet Union. Now local workers play weddings and hold other mass cultural events in the banquet hall of this palace. And in the hot summer time, children can swim and fish in the beautiful ponds located next to the Palace.

A turning point in the history of the village and the collective farm was the collapse of the USSR and the attainment of independence by Azerbaijan. The period of the beginning of the 1990s was very difficult for the whole republic. The time was restless, demonstrations took place in the capital and district centers, and there was a war in Nagorno-Karabakh. Representatives of the People's Front party were in power. In these conditions, villagers had a desire to leave Azerbaijan, and some residents, about sixty families left.

The chairman suppressed the panic. His authority was indisputable. "Enough of amateur performance," he said. "We'll all move together." He sent messengers across Russia to look for a suitable place for the new Ivanovka. Stavropol, Krasnodar Krai, Rostov region - everything is busy. Tambov, Voronezh, Saratov - do not fit. Finally decided to go to Belgorodchin. They assembled the board, and one of the leaders began to report: as much land is allocated for housing, so much for arable land, at what depth water, etc. The chairman listened very carefully to everyone, and then suddenly announced that, according to the forecasts of politicians, Heydar Aliyev would soon come to power. Hence, there is no need to get over. This is how Ivanovka survived in Azerbaijan.

In the summer of 2004, when the Molokans of the whole world celebrated the 200th anniversary of the issuance of the decree of Emperor Alexander I on granting religious freedom to Molokans, the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev received in his residence a group of elders from the Molokan villages of the republic. He thanked them for not leaving the republic in difficult times, and assured: "Today I am your guarantor".

Molokans from Shamakhi

In Shamakhi Molokans first moved in 1814 from Tambov, Rostov, Voronezh, Astrakhan regions of Russia. Here they settled mainly in three villages - Chukhuryurd, Nagarakhana and Gizmeidan (Astrakhanovka). The largest number of Molokans lived and still lives in Chukhuryurd.

The village of Chukhuryurd is located at a distance of 10 km from the center of Shamakhi in the most beautiful mountain tract on the shore of a clean lake. In former times only Molokans lived here. So in 1985 there were 450 Molokan households, it is more than 2000 inhabitants. The first houses of immigrants stood far from the shore of the lake on several hills that connect with high mountains. The streets were narrow and crooked. Today, much has changed here, but a unique architectural appearance, old traditions and beautiful nature are preserved.

The settlers brought their own traditions of cultivation of land to Azerbaijan, began to breed cattle, plant potatoes and other crops. The Molokans of the village of Chukhuryurd at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries were bearers of a unique and unique culture woven from the Volga traditions and Cossack customs of chanting, needlework and cooking. Perhaps, it is these traditions that can be considered a "visiting card" of the Shamakhi and, in particular, the Chukhuryurd Molokans. For example, the culinary feature of local Molokans today is the preparation of "Molokan noodles" - thinly rolled and cut dough, up to 60-70 centimeters long. Thin noodles accompany the Molokan family on holidays and on days of mourning.

The Chukhuryurd Molokans also have their own heroes: Maria Nikolaevna Kozhevnikova, the chairman of the Russian community of Chukhuryurd, awarded with the Shohret order and receiving a presidential pension, Nikolai Petrovich Sheverdyaev is a pilot, Hero of the Soviet Union, and others.

Today in Chuhuryurd, Azerbaijanis, Russians and Lezgins live side by side. The local places are famous for their potatoes, cabbage, special sunflower oil. Visitors also like to buy local apples, pears, plums, mountain honey.

Emil Eyyubov

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