Azerbaijan’s secret to lengthy existence? Mountain air within the village of Lerik

(CNN) — There are a lot of destinations around the globe famed for the longevity in their citizens.
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 nutrition. In the sunny Californian the city of Loma Linda, a neighborhood of Seventh-Day Adventists reaping benefits of fresh residing.
There’s one long-lived nook of the globe you will not have heard mentioned as a lot, and it is house to the arena’s best Museum of Longevity. That’s Lerik in southern Azerbaijan.

The South Caucasus nation is house to a number of areas identified for generating citizens who are living to triple-figure ages, together with Lankaran and Nagorno-Karabakh. But any other, Lerik, is reputed to have the best possible focus of centenarians.

In this emerald land top above the clouds within the Talysh Mountains, reached through loop after loop of a serpentine highway, folks appear to have came upon a secret to a protracted and wholesome existence.

The Museum of Longevity

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

It charts particular person lifespans with the home items that they have got outlived, corresponding to 3 generations of clothes irons. There are chests full of headscarves and shirts, silver pitchers and bowls, superbly knitted socks, and hand-dyed rugs which can be nonetheless brightly coloured regardless of their age.

And then there are the letters, written in each Azerbaijani and Russian — non-public artifacts so previous that the ink is beginning is fade.

Perhaps essentially the most charming options are the portraits of centenarians that duvet the museum’s partitions. These pictures, courting from the Nineteen Thirties, have been donated through French photographer Frederic Lachop.

The museum, and legitimate Azerbaijan statistics, outline “centenarian” extra loosely than you’ll be expecting: Here, it manner someone over 90 years previous.

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

Numbers were much less spectacular since then, which locals blame variously on radiation from conversation towers and environmental decline, however may just simply as simply be all the way down to extra rigorous record-keeping.

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

The story of the 168-year-old guy

Is this the arena’s oldest guy ever? Perhaps now not.

Kamilla Rzayeva

Lerik’s present oldest citizen is Raji Ibrahimova, at 105 years. That’s a positive antique, but it surely pales compared to the age apparently reached through space’s maximum celebrated centenarian, Shirali Muslumov, a shepherd who supposedly lived to be 168.

The phone book of his passport declare that he was once born in 1805 and his headstone states that he died in 1973. If true, it could make the the oldest particular person to have ever lived.

Unfortunately, again within the early nineteenth century, start registrations hardly ever came about in such far off villages as his birthplace of Barzavu, so there is not any certifable listing of when he was once born.

Countless letters despatched from all over the place the arena on his more than a few birthdays depart definitely that he was once certainly of an overly first rate age, however it is in all probability very best to think about a minimal 20-year margin of error.

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

This longevity gene turns out to run within the circle of relatives. His 95-year-old daughter, Halima Qambarova, tells CNN Travel that — whilst she may now not are living to 168, like her father — she a minimum of hopes to are living to the age of 150, like her grandfather, or 130, like her aunt.

‘Stillness of the thoughts’

When the elements turns bloodless, maximum centenarians relocate to the kinder coastal climes of Lankaran, however Qambarova was once nonetheless within the Lerik village of Barzavu when CNN Travel dropped through her father’s modest two-story house, surrounded through huge apple and pear timber (almost certainly contemporaries of her well-known father).

Sitting through the window, wrapped in a scarf, she speaks with a slight accessory, switching steadily to her local language of Talysh, a dialect spoken through simply 200,000 folks and categorized as “inclined” through UNESCO.

She displays off her passport, which does not checklist a month or date of start, best the 12 months: 1924. She is also 95, however she is absolutely provide, interacting along with her great-grandchildren, and demonstrating her full of life humorousness. When requested her age, she cheerfully replies, “15.”

“Stillness of the thoughts is a part of their secret,” the museum information says. “They steer clear of tension, eager about existence slightly philosophically, residing in the future at a time, with out a lot making plans or concern for the longer term.”

Good vitamin and herbal treatments

For story about Azerbaijan's Museum of Longevity

Halima Qanbarova is a tender 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 does not let herself sleep in. “I rise up once my eyes open,” she says.

She spends the entire day running within the lawn or round the home. Her room is small, with a thick cushy carpet and pillows at the ground. Many folks right here favor dozing at the floor, with only a skinny blanket as a substitute of a bed, as it is believed to be the healthiest method to relaxation the again.

Contrary to common trust, the centenarians of Lerik do consume meat, however they inherited a desire for contemporary dairy merchandise corresponding to shor (cottage cheese), butter, milk and the yoghurt drink ayran from previous centenarians, for whom the abstinence from meat was once extra because of financial circumstance.

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

It’s natural, floral and refreshing. Back on the museum, the information displays a desk with the more than a few herbs local to Lerik.

“The secret of lengthy existence is just right vitamin, the minerals within the spring water and the herbs that we upload to tea to forestall sicknesses, so folks wouldn’t have to take any drugs, best the usage of the herbal treatments,” says the information. Indeed, Qambarova insists she’s by no means taken any medicine.

Generations residing facet through facet

Beyond her home windows, it will appear that the village is quiet and nonetheless. But the bodily paintings that villagers installed each day is immense. From dawn till sundown they paintings in gardens and fields in addition to round the home. They stitch and knit and maintain large households.

Such was once the way of living of Mammadkhan Abbasov, a 103-year-old from Jangamiran village. Sitting at the carpet, throughout from the window, the centenarian has nearly totally misplaced his sight and will slightly pay attention his son telling him that visitors have arrived, but if he in spite of everything catches it, he begins making a song, providing prayers and just right needs.

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

Just like Qambarova, Abbasov has been a hectic villager his complete existence, running within 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 some great benefits of contemporary mountain air.

Kamilla Rzayeva

“He has at all times been a just right guy and lived his existence correctly,” his son says.

In phrases of meals, he eats “no matter God provides” with only one restriction — he by no means beverages alcohol.

Abbasov attributes his lengthy existence to day-to-day bodily job, to not the purpose of exhaustion, however sufficient to problem the frame.

Along with the great vitamin from the farm merchandise, he extensively utilized to drink liters of ice-cold spring water, which is wealthy with minerals stated to give a contribution to longevity.

The headache-inducing altitudes of mountains can be an element.

The ages of a few of these celebrated centenarians might nonetheless be disputed, however right here in Lerik their legacy lives on in the course of the folks that also abide through the straightforward secret of Lerik’s longevity: bodily job, just right vitamin, a whole lot of water and an angle to existence that claims: We best are living as soon as, but when we do it proper, as soon as is sufficient.

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

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