By Laman Ismayilova
The open sculpture competition for erecting a monument to Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev, the prominent Azerbaijani industrial magnate and philanthropist, has been held in Baku.
The contest brought together talented sculptors who create works in the fields of landscape architecture, landscape gardening and urban sculpture. Young local and foreign sculptors also participated in the competition.
Sculptor Khanlar Ahmadov’s work was chosen as the best among 26 projects that were submitted to the open sculpture contest, held by the Ministry of Culture, Baku City Executive Power and the Heydar Aliyev Foundation.
The monument to the Azerbaijani industrial magnate and philanthropist will be erected near Baku’s Icherisheher metro station on Istiglaliyyat Street.
Khanlar Ahmadov is an incredibly talented sculptor who works in the field of easel and monumental sculpture. He created a number of monument projects.
Ahmadov graduated from the Azim Azimzade College of Art in Baku in 1961-1966, studied at the Alexander Ostrovsky Tashkent Theatrical Art Institute in Tashkent in 1966-1972. He was also a graduate of the USSR Academy of Arts in Moscow in 1972-1975. Ahmadov became a member of the Union of Artists of the USSR in 1975.
The sculptor was awarded the title of Honored Art Worker of Azerbaijan by order of the president of Azerbaijan in 2002, and the honorary title of People's Artist of Azerbaijan in 2006 for his services for the development of Azerbaijani fine art.
His works have been displayed in Germany, France, Poland, Russia, Turkey and other countries, and are stored in various museums and personal collections.
Among the contestants of the open sculpture competition, there were also such famous local sculptors as People's Artists of Azerbaijan Natig Aliyev, Omar Eldarov, Salhab Mammadov, Honored Artist Azad Aliyev, Jalil Garyaghdi as well as Rahib Hasanov, who lives abroad.
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
Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz