Azerbaijan: A Wealth Of Traditions In Carpet Weaving


The fascinating art of weaving carpets in the Republic of Azerbaijan has been shaped and transformed due to many encouraging factors over the past centuries: a picturesque landscape in the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan and other regions of Azerbaijan, natural resources, living conditions, a high level of socio-economic development, a well established cultural identity and unique peculiarities and tendencies in harnessing fine art and national artistic values.

The people in the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan have further expanded the centuries old tradition of carpet artistry, weaving techniques and very attractive combination of colors and historic symbols that embody the National History of Azerbaijan.

According to the constant discoveries in a number of archaeological sites it is certain that the local population of Azerbaijan has adopted the tradition of carpet weaving since the Bronze Age, in the III and II Millennium B.C., during this time a number of characteristic carpets were handmade, a significant proof that shows a deeply rooted artistic heritage shaped in the cultural conscience of Azerbaijani nation.

Such an ancient tradition in Azerbaijan and predominantly in Nakhchivan was mentioned in the writings of Xenophon, a famous Greek writer in the V Century B.C., additionally, according to European sources, the Persians have also gained knowledge on carpet weaving from the Azeri population, since the early times.
Herodotus, the father of history, in his early writing notes that Caucasian people in the region of Nakhchivan have dominated the secrets of weaving and producing carpets that encompassed natural colors, historic background and national heritage of Azerbaijan.

During the archaeological excavations, carried out in 1949 in Altai and Pazyryks-Kurgan, were encountered several fragments of carpet products, they originated from the ancestral times of Mederzeit.  Due to their intensive use, ancient carpets were, unfortunately, short lived because they were made of extremely fragile natural materials; as a result it is very hard to obtain an old carpet from that period.

A number of scholarly articles confirm that Azerbaijan has always been one of the most famous and cherished locations of weaving carpets in the Orient. The carpets manufactured in Azerbaijan were mentioned in the notes of Juan Zse, a Chinese explorer of this region in the VII century. According to Movses Kagankatvatsi, an Arab historian of the VII century, emphasizes that silk carpets were mainly weaved in the Northern parts of Azerbaijan, later on other regions of Azerbaijan have been specialized in the manufacture of various rug and carpet products.

High quality carpets were produced in the northeast of Azerbaijan. In the writing of an unknown author of the X Century, “Hudud al Alam” in this region Nakhchivan was known for the production of special rugs, belts and particular carpet motives.  According to Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad Shams al-Dīn al-Muqaddasī, a medieval Arab historian and geographer: the carpets were unique in the markets of Barda region of Azerbaijan.  The vast practice of carpet weaving and their artistic motifs are also mentioned in the medieval poets of Azerbaijan such as Gatran Tabrizi (XI century) Nizami (XII century) and Hagani Schirwani (XII century).

European merchants of the XIV century were the main providers of Azerbaijani carpets in the most famous markets of Western Europe in the period of renaissance and moving forward.

Marco Polo, a Croatian born explorer of the XIII century wrote in his memoirs that numerous fabrics, carpets and weaving techniques unseen anywhere else in the world, are made and sold in the traditional markets of Azerbaijan.

During the XIV century, Azerbaijani carpets are some of the favorite items to be exposed in many canvasses of the most famous painters of Europe.

The background of a number of paintings by Jan van Eyck, an artist from the Netherlands, convey a unique tapestry from Quba region in the background.
According the President of Azerbaijan, this prosperous country does not offer only colorful high quality carpets; it enriches the International Art and Cultural environment with much more: “…Azerbaijan is situated on the crossroads of civilizations, cultures and religions. We are situated just between Europe and Asia. Of course, this geographical location played its role in cultural diversity of Azerbaijan. For centuries, representatives of all the cultures, religions, ethnicities have lived in Azerbaijan in peace, in dignity as one family. And we are very proud that during the years of independence these positive tendencies became even stronger. It is enough to look at our historical monuments to see the cultural diversity of Azerbaijan.  We are proud of our cultural and historical heritage. One of the oldest mosques in the world, which was built in 743, is situated in Azerbaijan in the ancient city of Shamakhi. One of the oldest churches in the world, the church of Caucasian Albania, is situated near another ancient city of Sheki. Orthodox and Catholic churches, synagogues, [and] Zoroastrian temples – all that is part of our cultural heritage, and we are proud of that.” [1]

On March 6, 2007, the President of Azerbaijan; signed a presidential decree that declares carpet weaving a cultural asset and a great national interest for Azerbaijan.  Additionally the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan and other regions of Azerbaijan such as the Museum or private collections of Carpets and Kilims of Quba region which have the patters of Chi-Chi and Konaghend, are very coveted by international art collectors.  The ornaments of these carpets are made of abstractions, historic signs and symbols. Touching the emotional perception of elements, while often being repeated within a framework of symmetry and presenting a palette of rhythmic sequence of warm and cold colors of the same shade and equal saturation.

For centuries motives and symbols of carpet weaving have remained unchanged. The flourishing of Azerbaijani carpets is attractive because they were produced in this country before gaining ground in Asia Minor; as a result Azerbaijan is considered the homeland of oriental rugs. Indeed, rugs tradition and carpet weaving in Azerbaijan is a genuine opportunity to strengthen intercultural communication world-wide and a great asset in Azerbaijan’s Cultural Diplomacy strategy. Carpets comprise a large majority of Azerbaijani cultural asset and are a substantial treasury in strengthening the cultural values of the Caucasian region. As a result it is undisputed that Azerbaijan is the homeland of handmade oriental carpets and premier rug traditions.



Peter Tase

Peter Tase is a freelance writer and journalist of International Relations, Latin American and Southern Caucasus current affairs. He is the author of America's first book published on the historical and archeological treasures of the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan (Republic of Azerbaijan); has authored and published four books on the Foreign Policy and current economic – political events of the Government of Azerbaijan. Tase has written about International Relations for Eurasia Review Journal since June 2012.

2 thoughts on “Azerbaijan: A Wealth Of Traditions In Carpet Weaving

  • August 27, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    We have yet another monthly disinformative article by Peter Taze. No self-respecting historian or researcher would post yet another article with names and ethnicity of historians changed, alluding to some ancient lineage associated with an Azerbaijani people. However, Azerbaijanis do this.

    In this month’s Azerbaijani propaganda piece, which also contains a long quote by the current leader of Azerbaijan, President Ilham Aliev, we find the following stated:

    “According to Movses Kagankatvatsi, an Arab historian of the VII century…”

    Not only is Movses an Armenian name, the same goes for Kagankatvatsi. An alternative name this VII century historian is known by is Movses Daskhurantsi, another Armenian name. Movses Daskhurantsi wrote a book in Armenian, titled “The History of the Caucasian Albanians”. In classical Armenian, that book was called “i patmut’ene Aluanits”. The book is available in English and can be found under the title, “The History of the Caucasian Albanians”, by Movses Dasxuranci, translated by C.J.F Dowsett, Oxford University Press, 1961. This book is generally available and provides a plethora of information about just where Armenians and Georgians lived in the Caucasus.

    This VII century text never mentions any people known as Azerbaijanis, just a geographic area this ancient historian calls “Atrpatakan”, which is what Armenians of today call Azerbaijan! The text is full of stories about Armenians, Georgians, and “Aghvan” or Alvan (Alban). This Armenian historian, comes from an area of today’s northern Azerbaijan historically known as the province of Uti, see page xviii.

    It is amazing what happens when the book is actually open!

    Yerevan, Armenia


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