The people of Shusha made it the pearl of the Caucasus, the cradle of our culture, the mugham-singing heart of Azerbaijan
Mehdigulu Khan Usmiyev (1855, Shusha-1900, Tiflis) was a lyrical poet of Azerbaijan of Kumyk and Javanshir descent, a lieutenant colonel in the Imperial Russian Army. He authored poetry under pseudonym Vafa.
Mehdigulu was born in 1855 in Shusha in the family of a Kumyk major-general, Khasay khan Usmiyev (1808-1866) and Azerbaijani poetess Khurshidbanu Natavan. He was named after Mehdigulu Khan, last khan of Karabakh Khanate.
In 1859, Alexandre Dumas wrote about him: “a five- or six-year-old boy probably instinctively holding a kinjal… This was a really sharp dagger, which a French mother would never give to her child.”
He enrolled in military in 1871 and received silver medal same year “For greeting the Sovereign Emperor in Tiflis in 1871”. He was later promoted to Praporshchik on 9 November 1871. By 1876 he continued on cavalry branch, assigned to a squadron. In 1877, he was put under commander of Caucasus Military District for special assignments.
Joining Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878, he usually fought under Iosif Gurko, who led the spearhead of the Russian invasion, took Tarnovo on July 7, crossed the Balkans by the Haim Boaz pass-which debouches near Hainkyoi-and, despite considerable resistance, captured Uflani, Maglizh and Kazanlak; on July 18 he participated attack on Shipka, which was evacuated by the Turks the following day. He returned to Caucasus after Treaty of Berlin and received awards for his bravery and participation.
He was transferred to the Life Guards Cossack Regiment of His Majesty with rank of cornet on April 21, 1879. From 1890 to 1895 he served as Rittmeister of the army cavalry and as adjutant to commander of Caucasus Military District. Later in 1895, he received his highest rank of lieutenant colonel. He served as staff officer from 1897 to 1900 of Caucasus Military District.
According to his service record, Usmiyev owned a family estate consisting of two houses in the city of Shusha, two caravanserais near Khankendi, gardens, mills, and also an uninhabited estate acquired with his sister in Khasavyurt. He was also granted estates in the Shusha: Malıbeyli, Giyasli, Khidirli, Bilaghan, Ahmadvar, Garvand-Meydan, Salvard, Garagoyunlu, Ilkhichilar, etc. He died in 1900 in Tiflis and was buried in Aghdam.