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



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(CNN) — There are a variety of destinations around the globe 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 weight loss plan. Within the sunny Californian city of Loma Linda, a group of Seventh-Day Adventists reaping rewards of fresh residing.
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 is Lerik in southern Azerbaijan.

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

On this emerald land excessive above the clouds within the Talysh Mountains, reached by loop after loop of a serpentine highway, folks appear to have found a secret to a protracted and wholesome life.

The Museum of Longevity

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

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

After which there are the letters, written in each Azerbaijani and Russian — private artifacts so outdated that the ink is beginning is fade.

Maybe essentially the most fascinating options are the portraits of centenarians that cowl the museum’s partitions. These pictures, relationship from the Thirties, have been donated by French photographer Frederic Lachop.

The museum, and official Azerbaijan statistics, outline “centenarian” extra loosely than you’d anticipate: Right here, it means anybody over 90 years outdated.

Nevertheless, again in 1991, there have been greater than 200 folks in Lerik registered as being greater than 100 years outdated, out of a inhabitants of 63,000.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 might simply as simply be right down to extra rigorous record-keeping.

In the present day, there are 11 folks greater than 100 years outdated, out of an area inhabitants of 83,800.

The story of the 168-year-old man

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

Kamilla Rzayeva

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

The phone 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 particular person to have ever lived.

Sadly, again within the early nineteenth century, beginning registrations not often passed off in such distant villages as his birthplace of Barzavu, so there isn’t a certifable report of when he was born.

Numerous letters despatched from all around the world on his varied birthdays go away little doubt that he was certainly of a really respectable age, however it’s maybe greatest to think about a minimal 20-year margin of error.

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

This longevity gene appears to run within the household. His 95-year-old daughter, Halima Qambarova, tells CNN Journey that — whereas she won’t dwell to 168, like her father — she not less than 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 within the Lerik village of Barzavu when CNN Journey dropped by her father’s modest two-story dwelling, surrounded by huge 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 usually to her native language of Talysh, a dialect spoken by simply 200,000 folks and categorised as “susceptible” by UNESCO.

She exhibits off her passport, which does not listing a month or date of beginning, solely the yr: 1924. She could also be 95, however she is absolutely current, interacting together with her great-grandchildren, and demonstrating her vigorous humorousness. When requested her age, she cheerfully replies, “15.”

“Stillness of the thoughts is a part of their secret,” the museum information says. “They avoid stress, fascinated about life fairly philosophically, residing someday at a time, with out a lot planning or fear for the longer term.”

Good diet and pure cures

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

Kamilla Rzayeva

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

She spends the entire day working within the backyard or round the home. Her room is small, with a thick smooth carpet and pillows on the ground. Many individuals right here favor sleeping on the bottom, with only a skinny blanket as a substitute of a mattress, because it’s believed to be the healthiest solution to relaxation the again.

Opposite to standard perception, the centenarians of Lerik do eat meat, however they inherited a choice for recent dairy merchandise comparable to shor (cottage cheese), butter, milk and the yoghurt drink ayran from earlier centenarians, for whom the abstinence from meat was extra on account of financial circumstance.

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

It is natural, floral and refreshing. Again on the museum, the information exhibits a desk with the assorted herbs native to Lerik.

“The key of lengthy life is sweet diet, the minerals within the spring water and the herbs that we add to tea to stop diseases, so folks do not need to take any drugs, solely utilizing the pure cures,” says the information. Certainly, Qambarova insists she’s by no means taken any treatment.

Generations residing facet by facet

Past her home windows, it could appear that the village is quiet and nonetheless. However the bodily work that villagers put in every single day is immense. From dawn till sundown they work in gardens and fields in addition to round the home. They sew and knit and deal with massive households.

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

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

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

‘No matter God provides’

For story about Azerbaijan's Museum of Longevity

Lerik is testomony to the advantages of recent mountain air.

Kamilla Rzayeva

“He has at all times been a great man and lived his life correctly,” his son says.

When it comes to meals, he eats “no matter God provides” with only one restriction — he by no means drinks alcohol.

Abbasov attributes his lengthy life to day by day bodily exercise, to not the purpose of exhaustion, however sufficient to problem the physique.

Together with the great diet from the farm merchandise, he additionally used to drink liters of ice-cold spring water, which is wealthy with minerals stated to contribute to longevity.

The headache-inducing altitudes of mountains might also be an element.

The ages of a few of these celebrated centenarians should still be disputed, however right here in Lerik their legacy lives on by way of the folks that also abide by the straightforward secret of Lerik’s longevity: bodily exercise, good diet, plenty of water and an angle 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 road, Lerik, Azerbaijan; (025) 274-47-11