Molla Panah Vagif (1717-1797)
Vagif was born in Kazakh district of Azerbaijan but spent most part of his life in Karabakh and his name and activities always were associated with Karabakh as well. Due to his knowledge and talents Vagif became popular and beloved among the Karabakh people. There was even a saying: «Not every literate person can be Vagif».
Vagif began a new era in the Azeri poetry. In his poems he praised and gave priority to the mundane feelings and desires, rather than the abstract divine ones. This was the main thing that distinguished Vagif from his predecessors and made him the founder of the realism genre in the Azeri poetry. The language of the Vagif poems was qualitatively innovative as well: vivid, simple and clear to the wide public. That’s why Vagif’s poems – koshma have made a great influence to the Azeri folklore and many of them repeatedly used in the folk music of ashuks.
When being the eshikagasi, Vagif did a lot for the prosperity and political growth of the Karabakh khanate. Also, he had outstanding deserts in organizing the heroic defense of Shusha during the invasion of shah Qajar of Persia in 1795 and 1797.
Vagif died during the disorders, which followed Qajar’s invasion of Shusha in 1797.
Kasim bey Zakir (1784-1857)
Zakir was also a great lyrical poet, who write many poems considered to be the masterpieces of the Azeri literature. While in exile he write one of his best lyrical poems «Durnalar» (Cranes). This poem was dedicated to his longing for his homeland in Karabakh…
Khurshid Banu Natevan (1830-1897)
Natevan was also a talented artist and virtuous philanthropist. Aiming at developing the poetry, she established and sponsored several literary societies in Shusha. One of them called «Majlisi Uns» became especially popular and concentrated major poetic-intellectual forces of Karabakh of that time.
Natevan was also the first person to build a water-pipe to Shusha, thus relieving Shusha people from many troubles.
Natevan did a lot for the prosperity of her native town and country. Her bright memory will always be preserved in the hearts of her grateful people.
Mir Movsum Navvab (1833-1918)
Navvab also gave us valuable information about the history of Armenian-Azeri conflicts in his book «The history of Armenian-Moslem fight (the name «Moslem» was widely used as a substitute for the «Azeri» during the XIX c. and early XX c.) In this book he describes the Armenian-Azeri clashes during the years 1905-1906.
Navvab died in 1918 in Shusha not long before a new ethnic clash between Armenians and Azeris begin.
Najaf bey Vezirov (1854-1926)
One of the best works by Vezirov was «Musibeti-Fahreddin» (Fahreddin’s grief) written in 1896, which marked the birth of the tragedy genre in the Azeri literature. Having created such plays as «The Stone Thrown From Behind Hits the Heel», «From Rain To Downpour», «Pehlevani-Zemane» (Hero of the time), «Late Repentance Is No Use» etc. Vezirov also recommended himself as a prominent playwright. These plays made Vezirov an immortal classic of the Azerbaijan literature.
Abdulrehim bey Hakverdiyev (1870-1933)
Hakverdiyev, who continued the traditions of the great playwrights M.F. Akhundov and N. bey Vezirov, entered the history of the azeri literature as a talented playwright, prosaic, excellent producer and scientist. Among the classical plays by Hakverdiyev we can mention «The Ruined Nest», «Unfortunate Youth», «Peri-jadu» and others, where the author exposes the negative sides of the life in the XIX c. Azerbaijan.
In 40 years of his literary activity Hakverdiyev wrote many plays, stories, a number of scientific articles and occupied a deserved prominent place in the Azeri literature as a great realist writer.
Firidun bey Kocharly (1863-1920)
In spring 1920, during the Soviet invasion, Armenian dashnaks (dashnaks -members of the chauvinist Armenian party «Dashnaksutiun») pretending to be Bolsheviks, arrested not guilty Kocharly and took him to Ganje. After two days when special envoys were sent from Baku to Ganje to release Kocharly, it was late. Dashnaks killed Firidun bey without any court and trial.
Yousif Vezir Chemenzeminli (1887-1943)
Shusha and Karabakh themes occupy the central place in Chemenzeminli’s works. One can find a detailed description of late XIX c. and early XX c. Karabakh in his novels «Twenty Years of My Life», «Copybook of a Youth» etc. These novels can be of great interest for the researchers learning the history of Karabakh.
Chemenzeminli’s masterpiece novel «In the Blood» is also dedicated to Karabakh and describes the history of the Karabakh khanate of Ibrahim-khan, as well as the heroic defense of Shusha from the invasion of Shah Qajar of Persia in 1795.
Chemenzeminli was also a prominent political figure, first ambassador of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (1918-1920) in Turkey. After the Soviet invasion he had to live for several years abroad. His yearning for the Motherland made him to return after a while but the Soviet government always persecuted him for his past. In 1940 he was arrested and exiled to the village of Sukhobezvodnoye in Gorki (N.Novgorod) region of Russia. Chemenzeminli couldn’t resist the deprivations of the life in exile and died in 1947 after a long period of illness.
Ahmed bey Agaoglu /Agayev/ (1869-1939)
Ahmed bey Agaoglu proved himself as a great enlightener. He considered the cultural and educational progress to be the major provision for the national liberation. No wonder that Ahmed bey was concerned about the situation of women in the early XX c. Azerbaijan too. He was the first member of the national intelligentsia to raise his voice for the equal rights for women. In his book «Woman in the Islamic World» published in 1901, he proved that «without women liberated, there can be no national progress».
Agaoglu also showed himself as a prominent political and public figure. He played an important role in prevention of ethnic clashes between Armenians and Azeris in 1905. In order to prevent the terrorist actions of the Armenian dashnaks, Agaoglu established the «Difahi» (Defender) organization and consolidated many members of the national intelligentsia for this purpose. He exposed Armenian dashnaks in both his publications and courageous speeches. «Armenian dashnaks, be sure, that we will not allow you to build your happiness on the ruins of our people» – Agaoglu said. The «Difahi» organization did a lot to prevent the Armenian dashnak actions against peaceful Azeri population of Karabakh and of other places of Azerbaijan.
During the years of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (1918-1920) Agaoglu was elected to the Parliament (Milli Mejlis), later became the deputy of the speaker.
Unfortunately, after the Soviet invasion Ahmed bey Agaoglu had to live the country. He moved to Ankara, Turkey and continued his journalism and political activities there, working as the director of the press bureau, the editor-in-chief of the official newspaper «Hakimiyyeti-Milliyye», and as a close advisor of Ataturk,- the founder of the modern Turkish Republic.
Source: F. Shushinsky, «Shusha» Baku 1998