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Emil Khalilov

Emil Khalilov

© Emil Khalilov. Terekeme - the last nomads of Azerbaijan

Terekeme - the last nomads of Azerbaijan


Terekeme are the nomadic cattle-breeders, who preserved the semi-nomadic way of life. They spend the summer on high mountain pastures and move to the steppes of the central part of Azerbaijan for wintering.

Wintering place is a cattle farm, where several families live in their small houses. During the USSR, these winterings were part of the state farms. After Azerbaijan gained independence, the farms were privatized by private businesses, often not related to the nomadic Terekeme, but hiring them to work in qishlaq.

Some of the qishlaqs are owned by the Terekeme themselves. The first part of this series of photos was taken in one of these wintering places in the Gobustan area. Gobustan, better known for its mud volcanoes and ancient rock paintings, is a hilly area rugged by ravines 60 kilometers south of Baku. In winter, there is relatively warm and enough feed for livestock.

The qishlaq has a long name Haji Molla Veli. Nomads belonging to the Jabirli tribe have been using it for several centuries. I lived with the Terekeme family in the qishlaq for some time, documenting their lifestyle, which gradually disappears under the pressure of urbanism.

The second part of the photos was taken during the seasonal movement of livestock between summer and winter pastures.

Twice a year the cattle-breeders in Azerbaijan move their sheep, goats, and cows between the winter and summer pastures.  Almost two hundred kilometers trip typically lasts more than two weeks on foot. In springtime, they move from the southern steppes to the mountains in the north part of the country. And in the fall they descend back to the steppe. They have been doing this for many centuries, on the same road. Only the surrounding landscapes and some aspects of everyday life change.


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