of the Oil Baron Period
This three-storied residence
occupies an entire block and opens to an inner courtyard. Teymur
Ashurbeyov constructed the house as a marriage gift in 1904 to
his son Bala Bey and daughter-in-law Ismat Khanim, the parents
of Sara Ashurbeyov (1905- ). The architect for the project was
the famous Joseph
had offices on the ground floor. His family of six children lived
on the second, and his mother and brother occupied the third
floor. Originally, the Ashurbeyovs had acquired their wealth
as landowners, but later they became oil barons. They were highly
respected in Baku because of the two large mosques that they
One of several murals along the communal stairwell.
When the Bolsheviks stormed Baku (1920), the Ashurbeyov
was confiscated. The family fled to Turkey via Georgia and the
Black Sea. For six years, they lived off the sale of Ismat Khanim's
diamonds which she had managed to smuggle out when they escaped.
The parents sacrificed everything to provide education for their
six children in Istanbul.
Homesick, Bala Bey decided in 1926 that it would be safe to return
with his family to Baku. It was a tragic decision that led to
his death ten years later when Stalin had thousands of people
arrested simply because of their previous affiliations or occupations.
Bala Bey was found guilty of being a "nobleman, landowner
and oil-industrialist" and was imprisoned and eventually
executed. His wife and children were left to struggle in a one-room
Entrance to the residence.
the Soviet period, the Ashurbeyov mansion was split into numerous
apartments. Today, the building, though neglected, still has
not lost its magnificence and splendor. Of particular note are
the huge murals in the stairway leading to the upper floors.
Sara, 93, the most distinguished of the Ashurbeyov children,
became a renowned historian and lives today with her sisters
in a small, run-down, Soviet-built concrete block two-room apartment.
(6.4) Winter 1998.
© Azerbaijan International 1998. All rights reserved.
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AI 6.4 (Winter 1998)
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