Azerbaijan's capital Baku will host the opening of an art exhibition devoted to the heritage of the Molla Nasreddin literary character inspired by 13th century Muslim cleric who was remembered for his funny stories and anecdotes, on June 21.
The exhibition, titled "The value of Molla Nasreddin heritage in the modern world", is being organized by Miras Social Organization in Support of Studying Cultural Heritage and takes place in Baku Art Gallery.
The exhibits at the show, which aims to show the value of Molla Nasreddin heritage in the present-day world, are devoted to the topics of the Molla Nasreddin satirical magazine, which was one of the most remarkable projects in the history of the Azerbaijani press.
The Baku exhibition features works by young painters such as Yaylagul Ramazanova, Emin Elishov, Shahin Guliyev, Matanat Aghazade, Aydan Aghazade, Kanan Mammadov, Anar Shamsiyev, Gurban Orujly, Vugar Gurbanov, Konul Mammadova, Vusala Talibova and others.
The eight-page Molla Nasreddin magazine, which was published in Azerbaijani and occasionally in the Russian language, represented a new stage in the development of national satire and cartoon art. The features and columns of the magazine were discussions, short witty pieces of writing, humorous poems, advertisement and telegrams, satirical stories, anecdotes, cartoons, caricatures, illustrations, etc.
The magazine gathered the most advanced team of Azerbaijani intelligentsia, who published their stories on the magazine's pages under various pen-names. Pictures and caricatures were supplied by artists Oskar Schmerling, Azim Azimzade and Josif Rotter.
The first issue of the magazine was published in Tiflis on April 7, 1906. The picture on the cover of the first publication was a group of Muslims in deep sleep with Molla Nasreddin trying to awake them. "I came for you" is the most popular article of the first publication of the magazine.
The main purpose of the magazine was the struggle with the old world and the fight against colonialism of the imperialist countries, tsarist autocracy and in the East with the despotic regimes in Iran and Turkey as well as satirical depiction of inequality, cultural assimilation, corruption, backward lifestyles and values of the clergy and religious fanatics.
The magazine achieved great popularity not only in the South Caucasus and Russia but across countries of the Near and Middle East as well. It was distributed widely in Iran and Turkey. Molla Nasreddin continued to appear under the Soviet regime. It was published regularly in Baku from late 1922 until early 1931.
The magazine had 748 publications over the period of 25 years.
The significance of the Molla Nasreddin magazine is its role in the development of the critical realist genre in Azerbaijani literature. It influenced similar processes in other literary traditions, primarily in Iran. Iranian cartoon art emerged as a result of publishing Molla Nasreddin in Tabriz in 1921.