Karabakh carpet

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
A Karabakh carpet of Malibayli sub-group, Malibayli village of Shusha, 1813)

The Karabakh carpet is one of the varieties of carpets of Transcaucasia, made in Karabakh (de jure Azerbaijan, de facto Artsakh).[1] Karabakh carpet making was added to UNESCO's Representative Masterpiece of Intangible Heritage as part of Azerbaijani Carpets.[2]


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, Armenia) 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 became the center of Karabakh carpet-weaving.


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.


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 include dragons and eagles. They were diverse in style, rich in color and ornamental motifs, and were even separated into 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 vegetative 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]


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, Gubately, 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 the lowlands carpet manufacturing was based in Jabrayil, Horadiz, Barda and Agdam (most notably, Lambaran village).[6]

Karabakh was famous for its pileless carpets which started with traditional Turkic Kilim and slowly evolved into different more elaborate ornamental styles such as shadda, zili, verni and palas products. High artistic taste is typical also for Karabakh jejims from the village of Lambaran (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 ordinary carpets, carpet bags and coverlets of different types were widespread. 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. 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.[7][8][9]


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. The 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 the "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 the Shusha Carpet Museum. In 1992 not long before the town's occupation by 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.”

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Editors, The. "Karabagh rug". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2018-01-04.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  2. ^ "Traditional art of Azerbaijani carpet weaving in the Republic of Azerbaijan - intangible heritage - Culture Sector". UNESCO. Retrieved 2018-01-04.
  3. ^ Hakobyan, Hravard H (1990). The Medieval Art of Artsakh. Yerevan: Parberakan. p. 84. ISBN 5-8079-0195-9.
  4. ^ a b c d Hakobyan. Medieval Art of Artsakh, p. 84.
  5. ^ (in Armenian) Kirakos Gandzaketsi. Պատմություն Հայոց [History of Armenia]. Yerevan: Armenian Academy of Sciences, 1961, p. 216, as cited in Hakobyan. Medieval Art of Artsakh, p. 84, note 18.
  6. ^ Kărimov, Lătif (2010-09-02). Rugs & Carpets from the Caucasus: The Russian Collections - Liatif Kerimov - Google Books. ISBN 9780140063707. Retrieved 2018-01-04.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-08. Retrieved 2015-04-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ http://irs-az.com/new/pdf/201301/1358757045846114775.pdf
  9. ^ http://www.spongobongo.com/cauc5.htm