BBC Azeri: Azerbaijani Carpets reWoven

Last week BBC Azeri published my video report on reWoven, a sustainable development project to revive and sustain the art of traditional carpet weaving among Georgia's ethnic Azeri minority. I had interviewed Ryan Smith, reWoven's founder, over a month ago during an exhibition of some of the carpets made as part of the project, but only got to visit one of the villages where some of the weavers live last weekend.

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Novruz in Marneuli, Georgia

Marking the first day of Spring and the beginning of the Persian New Year, ethnic Azeris in Marneuli, Georgia, once again celebrated Novruz with a public concert. Marneuli is home to some 20,000 people of which over 80 percent are ethnic Azeris. The surrounding region of Kvemo Kartli, of which Marneuli is a municipality, has a population of over 500,000 people. Constituting the largest group in the region, some 45 percent are ethnic Azeris.

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A Pagan Vardavar

It’s probably Armenia’s best loved celebration for many, although not for others who perilously walk the streets of any village, town or city in the country only to get drenched by kids wielding buckets, waterpistols, and soft drink bottles filled with water. The name comes from “Vard,” which means “rose” in Armenian, and while considered a Christian holiday by the Armenian Apostolic Church, it’s origin is very much from before 301 AD when Armenia adopted the religion.

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A Fond Farewell to the Sayat Nova Project

It’s been a great few months hanging out with the Sayat Nova Project — a Kickstarter-funded project to document the majority and minority musical traditions of the South Caucasus by two Americans and one Gibraltarian. Sadly, however, their time in the region has come to an end, but just to say it was a pleasure to not only to get to know them, but also to report on some of their travels and experiences.

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Masoumeh Jamalinia, Iranian Setar Player

A chance posting on an email discussion list led me to Masoumeh Jamalinia, a young Iranian journalist working for BBC Monitoring in Tbilisi. Putting her in touch with The Sayat Nova Project, who were recording the minority and majority traditional music of the region, we all met up at a Persian Tea House in the Old Town of the Georgian capital for an impromptu recording and photo session.

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