118 days: Iskander Aliyev

Today's excursion through Ganja's bustling market was a vibrant tapestry of sights, sounds, and aromas. Amid the cacophony of vendors calling out their wares and the rich smells of spices and fresh produce, I met Iskander Aliyev, a local craftsman known for his intricate carpet weaving. A stocky man in his late fifties with hands that spoke of decades of meticulous craftsmanship, Iskander told me stories of his travels throughout the Caucasus, gathering patterns and techniques that he now weaves into his rugs.

He showed me a piece he was particularly proud of, a stunning depiction of the Qiz Qalasi (Maiden Tower) in Baku, detailed with vibrant colors and elaborate motifs that seemed to dance in the afternoon sun. Each thread in his rugs was like a line in a painting, laid with precision and care.

As we talked, Iskander's passion for his craft and his deep love of Azerbaijani culture were palpable. His stories were a reminder of how deeply culture and tradition are woven into the daily lives of the people here. Inspired, I sketched quick outlines of the Maiden Tower as depicted on his carpet, with plans to translate this into a series of watercolors that reflect the story of Azerbaijan as told through Iskander's eyes - a fusion of art, history, and personal journey.

Meeting Iskander was not only an artistic inspiration, but a personal privilege that added another layer of understanding and appreciation to my travel experiences.

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