Karabakh carpet

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A Karabakh carpet of Malibayli sub-group. Malibayli village of Shusha, 1813)

Karabakh carpet is one of four major regional groups of carpets made in Azerbaijan[1] named after the Karabakh region, which comprises present Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent lowland territories ('lowland Karabakh'). Karabakh capret making were added to UNESCO’s Representative Masterpiece of Intangible Heritage as part of Azerbaijani Carpets.[2]

History[edit]

Carpet-weaving was historically a traditional profession for the female population of Karabakh, including many Armenian families, though there were prominent Karabakh carpet weavers among men too. The oldest extant Armenian carpet from the region, referred to as Artsakh during the medieval period, is from the village of Banants (near Gandzak) and dates to the early thirteenth century.[3] The first time that the Armenian word for pile carpet, gorg, was mentioned was in a 1242–43 Armenian inscription on the wall of the Kaptavan Church in Artsakh, whereas the Armenian word for "carpet" was first used in the fifth-century Armenian translation of the Bible.[4]

Carpet-weaving in Karabakh especially developed in the second half of the nineteenth century, when the population of many areas in Karabakh was engaged in carpet-weaving, mainly for commercial sale purposes. At this time Shusha (Shushi) became the center of the Karabakh carpet-weaving.

Types[edit]

Besides usual carpets, carpet bags and coverlets of different types were widely spread. These included pileless məfrəş (translit. mafrash, a trunk); xurcun (translit. khurdjun, a doubled travel bag); heybə (translit. heiba, travelling bag); çuval (transli. chuval, sacks for holding loose products); çul (chul, all kinds of coverlets); yəhər üstü (translit. yahar ustu, saddle cover) and other objects.

Armenian[edit]

Main article: Armenian carpet

Art historian Hravard Hakobyan notes that "Artsakh carpets occupy a special place in the history of Armenian carpet-making."[4] Common themes and patterns found on Armenian carpets were the depiction of dragons and eagles. They were diverse in style, rich in color and ornamental motifs, and were even separated in categories depending on what sort of animals were depicted on them, such as artsvagorgs (eagle-carpets), vishapagorgs (dragon-carpets) and otsagorgs (serpent-carpets).[4] The rug mentioned in the Kaptavan inscription is composed of three arches, "covered with vegatative ornaments", and bears an artistic resemblance to the illuminated manuscripts produced in Artsakh.[4]

That the art of carpet weaving was intimately tied to the making of curtains is indicated in a passage by Kirakos Gandzaketsi, a thirteenth-century Armenian historian from Artsakh, who praised Arzu-Khatun, the wife of regional prince Vakhtang Khachenatsi, and her daughters for their expertise and skill in weaving.[5]

Azerbaijan[edit]

Main article: Azerbaijani carpet


Azerbaijan carpets are traditionally divided into four types, so-called “carpet schools”, all of which have distinct characteristics. These carpet schools are: 1) Guba-Shirvan with manufacturing centers in Guba, Shirvan region and Baku; 2) Ganje-Kazakh, with centers in Ganje town and Kazakh region; 3) Karabakh (with major centers in Shusha, surrounding villages; and 4) Tabriz with centers in Tabriz and Ardebil in South (Iranian) Azerbaijan.The carpets from various regional types differ by three features: ornaments, manufacturing technique and the kind of article in question. Karabakh carpets comprise 33 different compositions in total. Some of the were partly borrowed from the Tabriz and Iranian carpet schools, some are completely original.[6]

The Karabakh or Qarabagh carpet school developed in two areas: in lowland and mountainous parts of Karabakh. The last one often and the most renowned one is often called “the Shusha carpet group”. Besides Shusha, the surrounding villages of Dashbulag, Dovshanly, Girov, Terniviz, Malibayli, Chanakcha, Tun, Tuglar, Hadrut, Muradkhanly, Gasimushagi, Gubatly, Gozag, Mirseid, Bagirbeyli, Khanlig, Tutmas were also known for their rugs. Each village developed original design and ornaments and had specific characterization which distinguished them from one village to another . In lowlands carpet manufacturing was based in Jabrayil, Horadiz, Barda and Agdam (most notably, Lambaran village).[7] [8]

Karabakh was famous for its pileless carpets,starting with traditional Turkic Kilim it slowly evolved into different more elaborate types of ornaments such as shadda, zili, verni and palas products. High artistic taste is typical also for Karabakh jejims from the Lambaran village (near present-day Agdam). Jejims were a popular decoration material for house interiors and were used in Karabakh for producing pillows and pillowcases, tablecloths, curtains, coverlets. Besides usual carpets, carpet bags and coverlets of different types were widely spread. These included pileless mafrash (a trunk); khurdjun (a doubled travel bag); heiba (travelling bag); chuval (sacks for holding loose products); chul (all kinds of coverlets); yahar ustu (saddle cover) and other objects.

Carpet-weaving in Karabakh especially developed beginning from the second half of the 19th century, when the population of many areas in Karabakh was engaged in carpet-weaving, mainly for commercial sale purposes. At this time Shusha became the center of the Karabakh carpet-weaving.Karabakh and Shusha carpets have greatly influenced the Nakhchivan and Zangezur schools of carpets. Some experts actually consider these schools to be sub-categories of the Karabakh carpet school.Shusha‘s carpet-weavers, Meshedi Bayram Gurban-oglu, Djabbar Haji Akber-oglu, Fatima Aga Sherif-gizi, Ahmed Dashdamir-oglu participated and were awarded prizes in an international show in Paris in 1867. Shusha carpets also received awards in 1872 in Moscow Polytechnic Exhibition.[9] [10] [11]

Distinguishing marks[edit]

Due to the specifics of the local sheep breeds the Karabakh carpets were known for their dense and fluffy pile. They distinguished from other Azerbaijan carpet schools by their artistic and technological ways of production and their size. These carpets are known for their vivid and flamboyant colors, symbolizing the nature of Karabakh. The ornaments widely utilize flower and vegetative motives made in geometrically symmetric manner.

The Karabakh carpets are also usually big in size, and have an oblong shape, because people in Karabakh have traditionally lived in big, oblong rooms and these carpets were placed in floors and walls not only for aesthetic but also to protect from winter freeze.

Another distinctive characteristic for the Karabakh carpet school is having three-five big carpet sets, so called "dasts". These sets (dasts) consist of a large central carpet, two side rugs and one head piece, all united in a single composition. In old times these carpet sets used to be the main articles of bride's dowry in both Azeri and Armenian families.

Museums[edit]

Some of the famous Karabakh carpets are presently kept in various museums of the world. A Karabakh silk carpet (zili) of the 16th or 17th century made in Barda is currently kept in Berlin in the Museum of Arts. The Boston Museum of Fine Arts holds a Shusha carpet of the 18th century. US Museum of Textiles possesses a Shusha carpet of the 18th century, called "Afshan", and the Metropolitan museum in New York has in its collection a Karabakh carpet of "Verni" group. A unique collection of Shusha and Karabakh carpets is currently kept in the State Museum of Carpet in Baku, Azerbaijan. Most of the collection in this museum was originally kept in Shusha Carpet Museum. In 1992 not long before the town’s occupation by the Armenian military forces, the Shusha museum’s director, arranged for 600 carpets to be evacuated from the town in army vehicles. Today the carpets can be found at the Baku museum in an exhibition titled “Burnt Culture.” [12]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]