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Sunday, April 03, 2005


Time For Rehab

Have a bad week? Go buy a carpet.

Have a good week? Go buy a carpet.

The Producer, who, for the first time made himself available for a Neva adventure, joined for a trip up to Guba on Saturday.

Guba is in the far north of the country, not far from the border with Russia/Dagestan. Although it's only about 2 1/2 hours drive from Baku, I had never visited it. As are most destinations in Azerbaijan, it's mildly interesting.

Unfortunately, we have been tricked several times into thinking it's spring. It snowed most of the day. It wasn't a good day for exploring.

A well-camouflaged Neva

Aside from the occasional Chechen and Dagestani, there are a number of ethnic groups that live near Guba. Although Azerbaijan is 95% Shi'ite, Jews have lived here for centuries without too many locally-caused problems. Indeed, right across the river from Guba lies Krasnaya Slovoboda, a tidy, prosperous-looking Jewish village with 5 or 6 operational synagogues. The area is also home to Lezghis, a Sunni sect whose brand of Islam incorporates even more animist traditions and who are known as fierce fighters.

Guba is also a traditional center for carpetmaking and locally made carpets have a distinctive pattern. We stopped by a women's collective that makes and sells carpets from their own workshop called Qadin Quba (Women Guba). They carpets are certainly nice and it was refreshing to see a women-run operation in Azerbaijan. While the new carpets didn't sing to me, they had a big pile of older Dagestani sumacs that called to me like a choir.

Guba Sumac
New carpets usually get Mo's approval

We really wanted to head up to the border with Dagestan to a town that reportedly has a carpet market. The weather was too awful though, so we only made it about half way before we turned around and headed back to Baku. There's no reason not to make another trip up there. The Neva has a lot of room.

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