Khurshidbanu Natavan

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Khurshidbanu Natavan
Khurshidbanu Natavan
Khurshidbanu Natavan
Native name
Xurşidbanu Utsmiyeva
BornXurşidbanu Natəvan
(1832-08-15)August 15, 1832
Shusha, Elisabethpol Governorate, Caucasus Viceroyalty, Russian Empire
DiedSeptember–October 1897 (age of 65)
Shusha, Elisabethpol Governorate, Caucasus Viceroyalty, Russian Empire
Resting placeAgdam, Azerbaijan
SpouseKhasay Utsmiev
RelativesMehdigulu Khan Javanshir

Khurshidbanu Natavan (Azerbaijani: Xurşidbanu Natəvan, born 15 August 1832, Shusha – September–October 1897, Shusha) was a female Azerbaijani poet and philanthropist. She is considered one of the best lyrical poets of Azerbaijan.[1] Her poems are in either Azerbaijani or Persian and she was most notable for her lyrical ghazals.

Natavan was also the daughter of Mahdiqoli Khan, the last ruler of the Karabakh Khanate (1748–1822).


Khurshidbanu Natavan with her children from first marriage

Natavan was born on August 15, 1832 in Shusha, a town in present-day Nagorno-Karabakh to Mehdigulu Khan (1763-1845) and Badir Jahan Begüm (1802-1861). Being the only child in the family and descending from Panah Ali Khan, she was the only heir of the Karabakh khan, known to general public as the "daughter of the khan" (Azerbaijani: Xan qızı). Her name Khurshid Banu (خورشیدبانو) is from Persian and means "Lady Sun". Her nom de plume Natavan (ناتوان) is also from Persian and means powerless.[2] She was named after her grandmother - Khurshud Begüm, daughter of Javad Khan.

After her father's death, she inherited vast amounts of lands from her father including 1,315 households, 41 nomadic territories and 7 villages at age of 14. She was put in care of her aunt Gawhar agha who taught her music, poetry and painting.[3] She probably married Kumyk noble Khasay Utsmiev in 1847. She inherited additional number of 9 villages from her mother Badir Jahan Begüm in 1861 after her death.[4] She founded and sponsored the first literary societies in Shusha and in the whole of Azerbaijan. One of them called Majlis-i Uns ("Society of Friends")[1] founded in 1864 became especially popular and concentrated major poetic-intellectual forces of Karabakh of that time.[5]

Natavan was closely engaged in philanthropy, promoting the social and cultural development of Karabakh. Among her famous deeds was a water main that was first laid down in Shusha in 1872, thus solving the water problem of the townsfolk. The local Russian "Kavkaz" newspaper wrote at the time: "Khurshud Banu-Begum left an eternal mark in the memories of the Shushavians and her glory will pass on from generation to generation".[6] The aqueduct built by Natavan from famous Shusha white stones were called by the townsfolks "Natavan springs" and were also considered historical monuments under protection.

Natavan also did a lot for the development and popularization of the famous breed of Karabakh horses.[citation needed] Natavan's Karabakh horses took part in the Exposition Universelle (1867), agricultural exhibition in Moscow (1869), in Tbilisi (1882) and were awarded golden medals and certificates of honour. Karabakh horses were also awarded at the Second All-Russian Exhibition in 1869: Meymun - silver medal, Tokmak - bronze medal. At the Exposition Universelle (1867) in Paris, Khan got a silver medal.[7]

Humanism,[when defined as?] kindness, friendship and love were the main themes of Natavan's ghazals and ruba'yat. These sentimental romantic poems express the feelings and sufferings of a woman who was not happy in her family life and who lost her son. Many of these poems are used in folk songs nowadays.

Natavan died in 1897 in Shusha. As a sign of respect, people carried her coffin on their shoulders all the way from Shusha to Agdam, some 30 km north-east, where she was buried in a family burial vault.

Her sons Mehdigulu Khan and Mir Hasan Ağa Mir both left a collection of poems in Persian.

Natavan's monument in Shusha[edit]

In Shusha, a Soviet-era monument of Natavan[8] by sculptress Hayat Abdullayeva, and other famous monuments of Karabakh Azeris including Hajibekov and Bulbul, which once decorated the central streets of Shusha, were severely damaged and dismantled by Armenian occupying forces. Polad Bulbuloghlu, then the Minister of Culture of Azerbaijan bought the bronze busts from a Georgian scrap metal yard and transported them to Baku.[9]

Thomas de Waal who saw the monuments in Baku, wrote:

"I saw the three bronze heads, forlorn and pocked with bullets, lying in the courtyard of the headquarters of the Red Cross in the center of Baku: the poet Natevan, an earnest girl in a head scarf reading a book, missing a thumb; the composer Hajibekov, a bullet-ridden gentleman in double-breasted suit and broken spectacles; and Bul Bul, a famous singer with a serious domed bronze forehead".[10]

The monuments were kept in the yard of the Azerbaijani Museum of Arts in Baku for many years,[11][12] with Natavan's bust finally returning to Shusha on 16th January 2021 after the city's recapture by Azerbaijan.[13]


She probably married Kumyk nobleman, Khasay Utsmiev, in 1847 and had two children with him:

She later married a commoner named Seyyid Huseyn Agamirov (1833-1891) in 1866 with whom she had 5 children:

  • Mir Abbas Agha (1868-1885)
  • Mir Hasan Agha (1870-1903)
  • Mir Jabbar Agha (?-1914?)
  • Sara Begum
  • Hajar Bike (1869-?)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Naroditskaya, Inna (2000). "Azerbaijanian Female Musicians: Women's Voices Defying and Defining the Culture". Ethnomusicology. Ethnomusicology, Vol. 44, No. 2. 44 (2): 234–256. doi:10.2307/852531. JSTOR 852531.
  2. ^ Nissman , David B. (1987) The Soviet Union and Iranian Azerbaijan:the use of nationalism for political penetration ,Westview Press ,ISBN 0813373182, p.84
  3. ^ "Natavan". Azerbaijani Soviet Encyclopedia. 7. National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan. 1983. pp. 163–164.
  4. ^ Ismayilov, Eldar (2014). "The Khans of Karabakh: The Elder Line by Generations". The Caucasus & Globalization. 8 (3–4): 149–150.
  5. ^ Abasova, L. V. et al. (eds.) (1992) Istoria azerbaijanskoi muziki Maarif, Baku, p. 116
  6. ^ "Khurshud Banu-Begum" (PDF). "Kavkaz" newspaper. August 29, 1873. p. 100.
  7. ^ Yelena Volkova - Karabakh Horses (in Russian)
  8. ^ Natavan bust then and today Archived 2007-10-08 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Public Association for the "Protection of Right of Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons in Azerbaijan"[dead link]
  10. ^ de Waal, Thomas (2003). Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan through Peace and War. p. 190.
  11. ^ de Waal, Thomas (2003). Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War. New York: New York University Press. ISBN 0-8147-1945-7.
  12. ^ "Глава 12. Шуша. Последняя цитадель". BBC News. 12 July 2005.
  13. ^ "Rusiya Təhlükəsizlik Şurasında Qarabağ üzrə danışıqlar müzakirə edilib, Prezident İlham Əliyev və Mehriban Əliyeva Şuşada tarixi yerləri gəziblər" [The talks on Karabakh were discussed at the Russian Security Council, and President Ilham Aliyev and Mehriban Aliyeva visited historical sites in Shusha]. BBC Azerbaijani Service (in Azerbaijani). 15 January 2021. Archived from the original on 17 January 2021. Retrieved 15 January 2021.

External links[edit]

Media related to Khurshidbanu Natavan at Wikimedia Commons