Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Family Oblast

My brother came up with this one. Unfortunately, it turns out to have been inaccurate. Not only was there a Stickles coat of arms, but there is an entire racket that has grown up around the selling of that coat of arms - and all other Scottish and English memorabilia. In fact, you have to put up good money to buy even a JPG image of the Stickles coat of arms (Thank you, HouseofNames.com!). But it must be good business; there are several sites that will sell you the Stickles coat of arms, including Amazon.com, which will put it on a tee-shirt and mail it to you. If you look at the historic background that accompanies the sample images, you will learn that the Stickles family can be traced all the way back to Somerset, England, and to William Sticlegh who established an estate there sometime around 1327, intending to eventually send his fictional great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandson to MIT.

But that's small potatoes, which are more an Irish delicacy than anything English (or even Scottish - they tend to go for inedibles such as haggis). The Baskir family has not only its own coat of arms, but even an entire country, complete with its own university and an airline (which for me is a perfecta, given my presence in the aviation business). I only found out about the airline, Baskirian Airlines, because one of their planes collided with a DHL cargo plane over the Alps six or seven years ago, an unfortunate incident made possible by the sophisticated and seamless European air traffic control system, which somehow managed to lose track of the two planes. I also found out that there is a horse called the Baskir Curly; it is known for its calm, friendly and intelligent personality and for its work ethic. It also has a curly-haired mane.

Bashkortostan these days is a Republic inside Russia (equivalent to a state in the U.S.), but many centuries ago, before the Mongols came, it was a country all to itself. It is nestled up against the Ural mountains on the European side of Russia and its capital is Ufa, a city of almost 1 million. In olden days, the country was known as Baskiria (pronounced Bashkiria), and the original Baskirs can trace their origins back almost 25 centuries. This is their coat of arms:
Largely a Muslim state, Bashkortostan claims to have about 2,000 Jews. At least one of them ended up in Kiev in the late 19th Century; that was my great-grandfather.

I found out about the land of the Baskirs the way anyone finds out about anything these days - through the Internet (that was also the source of the Napoleonic diary, in which the Emperor's valet recounts being entertained by a traveling band of Baskir musicians). There are not many Baskirs in America, but there seem to be quite a few in places like Turkey. In fact, I do not own rights to my name on the Internet; the site Baskir.com belongs to a Turkish photographer.

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