By Laman Ismayilova
An open sculpture contest, held by the Ministry of Culture, Baku Executive Power and Heydar Aliyev Foundation, on creation of a model for the monument to prominent Azerbaijani industrial magnate and philanthropist Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev has completed.
Some 26 projects were presented for the contest, which brought together talented sculptors who create works in the fields of landscape architecture, landscape gardening and urban sculpture.
Heydar Aliyev Center representative Zafig Khalilov said that young local and foreign sculptors also participated in the competition.
Among the contestants there were such famous local sculptors as People's Artists of Azerbaijan Khanlar Akhmadov, Natig Aliyev, Omar Eldarov, Salhab Mammadov, Honored Artist Azad Aliyev, Jalil Garyaghdi as well as Rahib Hasanov, who lives abroad.
In addition, sculptors from Ganja and Saatli region also joined the competition. Since the contest aroused great interest among the public, along with professionals, amateur sculptures participated in the competition. A lawyer Ilkin Mammadov was among them.
The presented models brilliantly reflect the life of Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev, his journey in becoming one of the greatest Azerbaijani industrial magnates and philanthropists.
The organizing committee will soon determine the winner. The selection of participants in the competition is carried out according to criteria such as relevance to the topic, the level of professionalism of the author’s idea and its implementation, the conformity of the presented composition and material processing technology.
The monument will be erected under the direct supervision of the author or a person authorized by him at a place selected by the organizer of the contest.
The monument to Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev is planned to be erected near the Icherisheher metro station (Istiglaliyat street). Because of the high interest to the contest and the appeal of the rector of the Azerbaijan State Art Academy Omar Eldarov and a number of sculptors, the contest was extended until August 31.
Born to a poor family of a shoemaker in Icherisheher, the old part of Baku, on January 25, 1821 (1838), Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev had to work from childhood to support his family.
He began as an apprentice of one bricklayer in Baku. Taghiyev’s dedication and hard work ensured quick professional advancement and at the age of 18 he became a contractor.
In 1873, along with his partners, Taghiyev rent a plot of land near the oil-booming town of Bibi-Heybat, a few kilometers to the southeast of Baku. They hired workers and started drilling for oil, but with no success. The partners gave up hope and decided to sell their shares.
Taghiyev purchased them and became the sole owner of the land. He continued drilling and paid workers despite all financial difficulties.
Finally, fortune smiled on him in 1877, when oil gushed out of the well with a mighty force. Oil gush instantly made him an oil baron and millionaire.
One of the first things Taghiyev did after becoming wealthy was to surface the road between the city and his oilfield in Bibi-Heybat. He then extended the road on to the Bibi-Heybat mosque.
Taghiyev invested in many important projects such as the first textile factory and fisheries. He sponsored the first Azerbaijan National Theater (1883), the first Muslim School for Girls (1896), the first Technical School (1911) and covered all the expenses for the construction of what would later become the Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater.
He also helped to solve the water crisis in the city by helping to finance the Shollar water pipeline (1916).
Baku's best-known philanthropist allocated 11,000 old roubles for the construction of the head office for the Muslim Benevolent Society in Saint Petersburg, 3,000 roubles for the education of Armenian orphans, 5,000 for the St. Nina's School for Girls in Baku, 10,000 roubles for the construction of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Baku, tens of thousands of roubles for the construction and repair of mosques and madrasas throughout Russia and Persia.
Taghiyev also provided scholarships for many talented young people who strove for higher education in prestigious Russian and European universities. He built a number of schools and supported a lot of attention to mosques, since he considered them to be centers for enlightenment, culture and science.
After Azerbaijan's ‘Sovietization’ in 1920, the country's wealthy people suffered severe repressions from the Bolshevik government resulting in the emigration of many of them. Therefore, Taghiyev's house and his other possessions were confiscated. He was exiled to his summer house in Mardakan.
Taghiyev's heart stopped beating on September 1, 1924. People remember Taghiyev not only for his great wealth, but for how he spent it. For his outstanding contributions, Taghiyev was twice awarded with the Order of Saint Stanislaus, as well as with a number of other orders and medals from many countries.
Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Lam_Ismayilova
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