Azerbaijan’s secret to long life? Mountain air in the village of Lerik

(CNN) — There are a quantity of locations round the world famed for the longevity of their residents.
In Japan, Okinawa’s sprightly centenarians have earned it the nickname “Land of the Immortals.” Campodimele, Italy’s “Village of Eternity,” is testomony to the Mediterranean food plan. In the sunny Californian city of Loma Linda, a neighborhood of Seventh-Day Adventists reaping rewards of clear dwelling.
There’s one long-lived nook of the globe you will not have heard talked about as a lot, and it is dwelling to the world’s solely Museum of Longevity. That’s Lerik in southern Azerbaijan.

The South Caucasus nation is dwelling to a number of areas identified for producing residents who dwell to triple-figure ages, together with Lankaran and Nagorno-Karabakh. But one other, Lerik, is reputed to have the highest focus of centenarians.

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In this emerald land excessive above the clouds in the Talysh Mountains, reached by loop after loop of a serpentine street, individuals appear to have found a secret to a long and wholesome life.

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The Museum of Longevity

The two-room Museum of Longevity, constructed in 1991 and renovated in 2010, holds greater than 2,000 displays documenting the lives and recollections of the area’s oldest inhabitants.

It charts particular person lifespans with the home items that they’ve outlived, equivalent to three generations of clothes irons. There are chests crammed with headscarves and shirts, silver pitchers and bowls, superbly knitted socks, and hand-dyed rugs which can be nonetheless brightly coloured regardless of their age.

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And then there are the letters, written in each Azerbaijani and Russian — private artifacts so outdated that the ink is beginning is fade.

Perhaps the most fascinating options are the portraits of centenarians that cowl the museum’s partitions. These pictures, courting from the Thirties, had been donated by French photographer Frederic Lachop.

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The museum, and official Azerbaijan statistics, outline “centenarian” more loosely than you’d count on: Here, it means anybody over 90 years outdated.

However, again in 1991, there have been greater than 200 individuals in Lerik registered as being greater than 100 years outdated, out of a inhabitants of 63,000.

Numbers have been much less spectacular since then, which locals blame variously on radiation from communication towers and environmental decline, however may simply as simply be down to more rigorous record-keeping.

Today, there are 11 individuals greater than 100 years outdated, out of an area inhabitants of 83,800.

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The story of the 168-year-old man

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Is this the world’s oldest man ever? Perhaps not.

Kamilla Rzayeva

Lerik’s present oldest citizen is Raji Ibrahimova, at 105 years. That’s a effective classic, however it pales in comparability to the age apparently reached by space’s most celebrated centenarian, Shirali Muslumov, a shepherd who supposedly lived to be 168.

The telephone book of his passport declare that he was born in 1805 and his headstone states that he died in 1973. If true, it might make the the oldest individual to have ever lived.

Unfortunately, again in the early nineteenth century, delivery registrations not often occurred in such distant villages as his birthplace of Barzavu, so there isn’t any certifable document of when he was born.

Countless letters despatched from throughout the world on his numerous birthdays go away little doubt that he was certainly of a really respectable age, however it’s maybe finest to issue in a minimal 20-year margin of error.

Among these corresponding with Muslumov had been Vietnamese communist chief Ho Chi Minh, who despatched a postcard greeting him with the endearment, “Dear Grandpa.”

This longevity gene appears to run in the household. His 95-year-old daughter, Halima Qambarova, tells CNN Travel that — whereas she won’t dwell to 168, like her father — she at the very least hopes to dwell to the age of 150, like her grandfather, or 130, like her aunt.

‘Stillness of the thoughts’

When the climate turns chilly, most centenarians relocate to the kinder coastal climes of Lankaran, however Qambarova was nonetheless in the Lerik village of Barzavu when CNN Travel dropped by her father’s modest two-story dwelling, surrounded by large apple and pear timber (most likely contemporaries of her well-known father).

Sitting by the window, wrapped in a scarf, she speaks with a slight accent, switching typically to her native language of Talysh, a dialect spoken by simply 200,000 individuals and labeled as “vulnerable” by UNESCO.

She reveals off her passport, which does not checklist a month or date of delivery, solely the 12 months: 1924. She could also be 95, however she is absolutely current, interacting along with her great-grandchildren, and demonstrating her full of life sense of humor. When requested her age, she cheerfully replies, “15.”

“Stillness of the mind is part of their secret,” the museum information says. “They stay away from stress, thinking about life quite philosophically, living one day at a time, without much planning or worry for the future.”

Good vitamin and pure cures

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Halima Qanbarova is a younger factor of 95. Her grandfather is claimed to have lived to 150, her father to 168, and her aunt to 130.

Kamilla Rzayeva

Qambarova’s day begins at daybreak; she does not let herself sleep in. “I get up as soon as my eyes open,” she says.

She spends the entire day working in the backyard or round the home. Her room is small, with a thick gentle carpet and pillows on the ground. Many individuals right here want sleeping on the floor, with only a skinny blanket as an alternative of a mattress, because it’s believed to be the healthiest approach to relaxation the again.

Contrary to common perception, the centenarians of Lerik do eat meat, however they inherited a desire for contemporary dairy merchandise equivalent to shor (cottage cheese), butter, milk and the yoghurt drink ayran from earlier centenarians, for whom the abstinence from meat was more due to financial circumstance.

Qambarova’s daughter-in-law brings in a giant plate with pears and apples from their backyard and a few fragrant tea.

It’s natural, floral and refreshing. Back at the museum, the information reveals a desk with the numerous herbs native to Lerik.

“The secret of long life is good nutrition, the minerals in the spring water and the herbs that we add to tea to prevent illnesses, so people don’t have to take any medicine, only using the natural remedies,” says the information. Indeed, Qambarova insists she’s by no means taken any medicine.

Generations dwelling aspect by aspect

Beyond her home windows, it might appear that the village is quiet and nonetheless. But the bodily work that villagers put in day by day is immense. From dawn till sundown they work in gardens and fields in addition to round the home. They sew and knit and take care of huge households.

Such was the way of life of Mammadkhan Abbasov, a 103-year-old from Jangamiran village. Sitting on the carpet, throughout from the window, the centenarian has virtually utterly misplaced his sight and may barely hear his son telling him that company have arrived, however when he lastly catches it, he begins singing, providing prayers and good needs.

At Abbasov’s aspect is his nice grandson — a century hole between them.

Just like Qambarova, Abbasov has been a busy villager his entire life, working in the fields till about seven years in the past, when his imaginative and prescient deteriorated.

‘Whatever God provides’

For story about Azerbaijan's Museum of Longevity

Lerik is testomony to the advantages of contemporary mountain air.

Kamilla Rzayeva

“He has always been a good man and lived his life properly,” his son says.

In phrases of meals, he eats “whatever God gives” with only one restriction — he by no means drinks alcohol.

Abbasov attributes his long life to every day bodily exercise, not to the level of exhaustion, however sufficient to problem the physique.

Along with the good vitamin from the farm merchandise, he additionally used to drink liters of ice-cold spring water, which is wealthy with minerals mentioned to contribute to longevity.

The headache-inducing altitudes of mountains may additionally be an element.

The ages of some of these celebrated centenarians should still be disputed, however right here in Lerik their legacy lives on by the individuals that also abide by the easy secret of Lerik’s longevity: bodily exercise, good vitamin, heaps of water and an perspective to life that claims: We solely dwell as soon as, but when we do it proper, as soon as is sufficient.

Museum of Longevity, 22 A.Asadullayev avenue, Lerik, Azerbaijan; (025) 274-47-11

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