Weaving, listening to Azerbaijani music, cooking some Azerbaijani culinary treasures . . . Azerbaijani culture has much to offer even the youngest members of the family.
Kids: Explore what interests you, whether it’s food prepared in an unfamiliar (but delicious) style, music that sounds like the human voice (that’s called mugham), weaving on a hand loom (your local craft store will be glad to help!) . . . Discover the joys of stepping into another culture and of finding out about Azerbaijani culture.
Parents and grandparents, download an Azerbaijani story to read your child or grandchild. Or print out a recipe to make together. Join a Karabakh Foundation festival event (check our Program Guide for the next opportunity!) . Print some coloring designs below to encourage some quiet time and learning about the glories of Azerbaijani carpets.
Carpets are big part of life in Azerbaijan. These Caucasian carpet coloring pages give an idea of just how complicated Azerbaijani carpet designs can get. Click on each carpet to enlarge and print the image.
- Select crayon colors by thinking about which plants and natural dyes could be used to produce colors (example: onion skins make shades of yellow, indigo produces blue, madder root yields deep reds)
- Try copying some of the designs on another piece of paper.
- Make up your own carpet designs and compare them with the designs shown here.
- Search www.KarabakhFoundation.org for information about Azerbaijani carpets and other textiles.
Flag of Azerbaijan
The Azerbaijani flag is blue (top stripe), red (middle stripe), and green (bottom stripe). (The crescent and star are white, and historians and researchers present several different interpretations for these symbols.) The blue symbolizes Azerbaijan’s Turkic heritage, the red symbolizes democracy and progress, and the green symbolizes Islam, the most common religion in Azerbaijan.
- Color the flag.
- Draw a design for a t-shirt that celebrates Azerbaijani culture.
- Design a postage stamp celebrating Azerbaijan (remember to check www.KarabakhFoundation.org for inspiration).
- Write a sentence about what this Azerbaijani flag might mean to Azerbaijani people (hint: you’ll have to read up on Azerbaijani history, especially modern history, to understand why the flag is so meaningful).
What Do You Know about Azerbaijan?
How much does your family know about Azerbaijan? Take this fun quiz appropriate for all ages!
Are kids in Azerbaijan like me? Get lost in the pages of some classic Azerbaijani children’s books. Read them below or download them to you computer using the links provided.
Once upon a time there was an old woman who had a small son. This child was so small that he was called Jirtdan (“tiny” in Azerbaijani), but that did not matter because he was very intelligent. One day Jirtdan saw that children from neighborhood were going to the forest to gather wood. Jirtdan came up to his mother and said, “Mommy, I’ll go the forest with children as well.”
The old woman called the children, gave each of them a piece of bread spread with butter and asked them to take care of Jirtdan. While going to the forest to gather wood, the children saw that Jirtdan didn’t do it. They said, “Jirtdan, why aren’t you gathering wood?”
Jirtdan answered, “My mommy gave you bread spread with butter for gathering my wood.”.
The children gathered and loaded Jirtdan’s wood. When they wanted to leave, the children saw that Jirtdan was sitting and looking. They said, “Jirtdan, why aren’t you carrying your wood?”
Jirtdan answered, “Boys, my mommy gave you bread spread with butter for carrying me as well.”
Having no way out, the children loaded his wood. After walking awhile, they saw that Jirtdan had fallen behind and was crying. The children asked, “Jirtdan, why are you crying?”
Jirtdan answered, “I am tired. Mommy gave you bread spread with butter for taking care and carrying me on your back, when I got tired”.
Being in hopeless situation, the children took him on their back. When the day turned into night and the sky turned dark, the children lost their way. Leaving the forest they saw that on one side a dog was barking, on the other there was light. At that moment they said to Jirtdan, “Hey, Jirtdan, shall we go to the side of dog’s barking, or to the side of light?
Jirtdan responded, “If we’ll go to the side of dog’s barking, the dog will eat us. Let’s go to the side of light, maybe we’ll find the way out.”
While walking to the side with the light, the children came to the monster’s house. The monster was very glad when he saw the children and thought to himself, “Well, to night I’ll eat them one by one”. The monster gave the children a little bread, and put them to bed. Late during the night, the monster wanted to eat one of the children. The monster called out, “Who has got asleep? Who is awake?”
Hearing this question Jirtdan raised his head and said, “Everybody has fallen asleep, but Jirtdan is awake.”
The monster asked, “Why is Jirtdan awake?”
Jirtdan replied, “Because, my mommy used to cook scrambled eggsevery night before putting me to bed.”
The monster stood up, quickly cooked scrambled eggs, fed and put him to bed. Later on, he asked again: “Who has got asleep? Who is awake?”
Jirtdan raised his head again and said: “Everybody has fallen asleep, but Jirtdan is awake.”
The monster asked: “Why is Jirtdan awake?”
Jirtdan answered, “Because my mommy used to bring to me water with a sieve from the river every night before falling asleep.”
After hearing his answer, the monster stood up, took the sieve, and went to the river to bring water for the boy. Jirtdan woke up his friends immediately, and said, “This monster wants to eat us. Stand up and lets run away quickly.”
The children quickly run away and crossed the river. Meanwhile, monster put the sieve into the water and took out of it, but he saw that there was no water in it. The monster did not realize this was an impossible task because the sieve would always cause the water to leak out. At last, being tired, the monster decided to return home. However, he suddenly saw the children were going to the other side of the river. He immediately tried to cross the river and run after the children, but he couldn’t cross the river. He called to the children, “How did you cross the river?”
Jirtdan quickly answered, “Go and find a millstone, put it on your neck, and throw yourself into the river, then you can cross the river.”
The monster believed Jirtdan’s words. He found a millstone, put it on his neck, and threw himself into the river. Drawing in the water, the monster died, and the children were able to escape.
And that is how Jirtdan, despite his size, used his intelligence to outwit the monster and return safely home with his friends.
The Hedgehog and The Dandelion
By Shafag Mehraliyeva, Karabakh Foundation Cultural Ambassador
A little hedgehog named Kirpy lived in a forest. He loved his lodge under the oak tree. Every morning Kirpy woke up to the chirping of the birds that lived above in the tree. The hedgehog got out of his neat lodge to wish good morning to his neighbors, smell the fresh forest air, and wash up in the morning dew collected from leaves and flowers.
But what Kirpy liked most about his habitat was the waterfall nearby. Kirpy rushed every day to watch the blue water cascading down the little rocks with a splish-splash. The water made bubbles that flew around and reflected on the sunrays turning bubbles into all colors of the rainbow. Playing with those bubbles was Kirpy’s favorite thing to do. He blew and chased them around the waterfall. But he had a problem; Kirpy’s quills popped the bubbles and made them disappear. “I hate these quills!” yelled annoyed Kirpy. “They pop my bubbles and don’t let me have fun.”
Kirpy was upset. He sat under the oak tree. Two sparkling tears rolled down his cheeks.
Meanwhile, the owl who was trying to get some sleep on the higher branches of the tree heard little hedgehog’s cry. He flew down the tree and asked Kirpy, “What’s wrong, little hedgehog? What is bothering you so much that you can’t enjoy this beautiful day?”
Kirpy was glad to see the owl. Everyone in the forest knew that the owl was the wisest bird and helped animals with his valuable guidance. Kirpy told the owl about his problem. He said that blowing on water bubbles and chasing them around was his favorite thing to do. But he couldn’t enjoy it because of his sharp quills. “I don’t like my quills,” said Kirpy. “Can I trade it for your wings?”
The wise owl laughed. “No, little Kirpy. You can’t trade your quills. That’s what makes you a hedgehog. And my wings are what make me a bird. But, I think, we can solve your problem. Tell me; why do you like playing with bubbles?”
“Because when I blow on them they fly like snowflakes and I catch them,” answered Kirpy.
“Hmm . . . wait here,” said the owl.
He took off. Kirpy sighed. He wanted to start crying again, but suddenly the owl was back with a little fuzzy flower in his beak.
“What is that?” asked Kirpy curiously. “I have never seen a flower like this before.”
“This is a dandelion,” replied the owl, putting the fuzzy flower in front of Kirpy. “Blow on it,” said the owl. “See what happens.”
Kirpy took the dandelion, closed his eyes, and excitedly huffed on the flower. When he opened his eyes, he saw tens of white puffy parachute seeds flying in the air around him. Kirpy started running around, blowing on the parachutes, and chasing them. This time, his quills did not get in the way.
“I love it! I love it!” Kirpy squeaked happily. “Thank you so much, Mr. Owl!”
“You are welcome, little Kirpy. There is a whole field full of them just three oak tress away. You can play with them every day now.”
Wise owl got back on the high branch of the oak tree. He watched Kirpy running cheerfully around the tree chasing dandelion parachutes. The owl closed his big eyes and fell asleep. Through his sleep he could still hear Kirpy’s excited voice: “I love it! I love it! I love it!”
Hedgehog illustration by Karabakh Foundation Cultural Ambassador Yavar Rzayev.
The Hedgehog and Four Wishes
By Shafag Mehraliyeva, Karabakh Foundation Cultural Ambassador
It was another beautiful day in the forest. As usual, Kirpy, the little hedgehog, woke up to the chirping of the birds that lived above in the oak tree. He wished them good morning and went to wash up in the dew collected from the leaves and flowers.
Kirpy knew how important it was to eat breakfast, so he went back to his lodge under the oak tree and munched on some sweet berries he collected last evening for breakfast. After he was done with his meal, Kirpy tidied up his little home and thought, What a great day to play in the dandelion field!
The dandelion field was only three oak trees away. Kirpy often went there to blow on the flowers and chase the puffy parachute seeds around the field. On a sunny day like today, sunrays made the parachute seeds look like snowflakes. Kirpy rushed toward the field. He was always impatient to get there soon, but he knew that he had to pass by six wild rose bushes. After he counted them all, the trip would be over.
Today was the same. He shifted his little feet hastily to count all the wild rose bushes along the route. But something caught Kirpy’s attention when he was passing by the forth bush. It was a flower—an unusual kind of flower that he had never seen before. The flower had four big iridescent petals and was hidden behind the bush. All of a sudden, Kirpy forgot about his plans to chase dandelions. He was mesmerized by the petals, wondering why he had never noticed this flower during his previous trips. He knew just who to ask. Kirpy decided to find Mr. Owl. Everyone in the forest knew that Owl was the wisest bird and helped animals with his valuable guidance.
Kirpy went to the oak tree where Mr. Owl liked to take his naps. Mr. Owl was awake, sitting on the low branch of the tree.
“Mr. Owl, wait till you here this!” squeaked Kirpy. “I was on my way to the dandelion field. And suddenly I saw a flower behind the rose bush. I have never seen the flower like that. It is so . . . it is so . . .” Kirpy couldn’t finish his sentence as he was breathless from the excitement.
“Breathe, little Kirpy,” laughed Mr. Owl. “Now, what is so special about this flower?”
“Its petals! They are big and . . . hmm . . . I don’t know what color it is. But they have every color of the rainbow on them.”
“Ah . . . it’s colored iridescent. Quite a rare find, I must say! It is a magical flower that grows in our forest once in a hundred years. Each one of those big petals can make any wish come true. All you need to do is to pick a petal and say magical words: “With this petal I wish . . .”
“Really?” Kirpy’s mouth dropped in disbelief. “Then I better hurry back and pick the magical flower before someone else does it.”
“But be careful, little Kirpy, what you wish for. Please, think your wishes through carefully. Know that only an unselfish wish will give you a true sense of happiness and satisfaction.”
Kirpy couldn’t hear Mr. Owl, as he already was away running on his four little feet to pick the magical flower.
“Yippee!” screamed Kirpy, when he saw the magical flower still there playing with all the colors of the rainbow. He picked it and rushed back to his lodge. I hope no one saw me, thought Kirpy, as he did not want to share even a single wish with anyone. He sat in the furthest corner of his lodge and starting thinking about what to wish first. Kirpy loved munching on berries. But he didn’t care much for collecting them. He would rather play with his other animal friends in the forest. So, Kirpy had an idea; why doesn’t he wish that his lodge would be filled to the top with all kinds of delicious berries. This way, he didn’t have to work and spend all of his time playing.
Kirpy pulled one of the big, beautiful petals and whispered, “With this petal, I wish my lodge would be filled to the top with delicious berries.” Kirpy felt a little breeze on his face and heard the gentle sound of wind chimes. All of a sudden berries filled his lodge, making a small mountain and sweeping him outside.
Kirpy squeaked, “I cannot believe it! Now, I will never have to pick berries again!” He spent the whole day in the dandelions field chasing parachute seeds. It was getting late. Kirpy headed to his lodge. But when he got there, he realized the lodge was filled with berries and there was no space for him to sleep. “What shall I do? Oh, I know . . . I will start eating my way through the berries to the lodge.”
Kirpy was really hungry after spending the whole day running around. He thought he would eat the whole mountain of berries. But after eating some berries his tummy was already full. Still there was no space for him in the lodge. I must keep eating, thought Kirpy. He shoveled up berries into his mouth. But soon he felt his tummy aching. “Oh, I cannot eat anymore. No more berries for me.” Kirpy did not feel good at all. So, he pulled the second iridescent petal and quickly said, “With this petal, I wish my tummy ache to go away.” Again, the gentle breeze brought the sounds of wind chimes and the tummy ache was gone instantly.
Kirpy felt happy again. “All I need to do is to find a place to sleep for tonight, and I can finish my berries tomorrow.” The moss under the oak tree looked cushy and comfortable. Kirpy decided to spend a night on it. But as soon as he curled up on the soft moss, big raindrops started to fall down from the sky, turning into a fast rain.
“Oh! Ow! Mayday! Mayday!” panicked Kirpy. He grabbed the magical flower, pulled the third petal and yelled, “With this petal, I wish for all berries to disappear so I could get back into my dry, clean, and warm lodge!” Kirpy could hardly hear wind chimes this time, because loud thunderstorms were shaking the sky. He ran to his lodge and curled up in the furthest corner. As he was falling asleep, Kirpy thought, I cannot believe I wasted three wishes. In the morning, I am going to think long and hard before making the last wish. And that one is going to be good.
The next morning the sky was blue and sun was shining. Kirpy woke up and went outside. He had only one petal left on the magical flower and he was not going to waste it. Kirpy decided to walk to his favorite waterfall, as he seemed to come up with the greatest ideas there. He sat on the nearby stub and watched the water cascading down the little rocks with a splish-splash. Suddenly, he heard someone crying; Mama Rabbit was weeping on the other side of the waterfall.
“What is the matter, Mama Rabbit?” asked Kirpy.
“Oh, Kirpy, it is Baby Rabbit, my poor Baby Rabbit! Yesterday during the storm, his paw was broken when he got trapped under the fallen branch. Dr. Moose says Baby Rabbit will not be able to run like before. I am very sad.”
Kirpy felt sad too. Baby Rabbit was one of his friends. They had fun playing together in the forest.
“Can nothing be done at all, Mama Rabbit?”
“I am afraid not. Now, only magic will save him.”
Kirpy smiled and bounced on a stub. “And magic we shall have!” He pulled the last beautiful petal of the magical flower and said loudly, “With this petal, I wish for Baby Rabbit’s paw to heal and be just like before!” A wonderful breeze blew through the waterfall and sweet sound of wind chimes echoed the splish-splash of the water.
Baby Rabbit came jumping to the waterfall and yelled happily, “Mama, I am all better now!”
“Oh, my baby! I cannot believe my eyes. How did it happen?”
“I guess it was magic,” smiled Kirpy. “Hey, Baby Rabbit, would you like to play? It is a great day to go to the dandelions field.”
Kirpy and Baby Rabbit raced to the field. Kirpy never felt so happy and satisfied before. Mr. Owl sitting on the oak tree looked at the kids and whispered to Kirpy, “I am proud of you, little hedgehog! I am proud of you!”
The Old Man and the Lion
“Lucky me!” roared the Lion, “I haven’t eaten for three weeks and now I can eat both of you and be full!” The son began to tremble with fear:
“Father, what do we do? The lion is going to eat us.”
“Don’t worry, son, I’ll send him away,” replied the old man.
“What can an old man like you possibly do to a lion?” asked the son.
“Strength is not the most important power,” said the old man. “Intelligence is the most important. The strength of the mind will overpower any strong beast. Look, I’ll show you.”
The old man raised his ax and went towards the lion saying:
“I’ve gone lion hunting many times, but I’ve always been unsuccessful. And now you have come to me yourself! Now I can kill you and take you home. Your meat will suffice us for three days,” murmured the old man.
“And where will you get the strength to kill me?” said the Lion.
“Well since you doubt my power, let’s test each other’s strength. The loser must obey the winner.”
The Lion agreed to this proposal. The old man picked up a stone and handed it to the Lion.
“If you say you are as strong as I am, just squeeze this stone so that the juices flow out of it,” said the old man.
The Lion squeezed the stone, and it crumbled, but no juice came out. The old man quickly pulled an egg out of his pocket, picked up a stone and squeezed them together so that the juice flowed through his fingers.
“You see, I squeezed the juice from a stone,” said the old man.
The lion was so surprised by the old man’s strength and agreed to obey him out of fear. Since then, the lion acted as the man’s servant.
One day the old man was cutting firewood in the forest. No matter how much he struggled, he could not chop down a small tree. He sat down to rest. The Lion came up to the tree and easily pulled it out of the ground with its roots.
“Old man, you said that you were stronger than me. How come you can’t even cut down a small tree like this?” asked the surprised Lion.
The old man realized that the Lion figured out his secret, but he did not panic and said:
“Oh, Lion, I was just testing you, to see if you could take down this tree. We haven’t had meat for several days now, and now I’m going back into the woods to hunt lions. I think three or four lions should be enough. That’s when you’ll see my strength.”
The Lion trembled with fear and thought that if the old man’s hunt failed, then he would kill the Lion. It’s better to run away while he still could. That night, the Lion ran away and hid in the woods. Suddenly, he saw the Fox.
“Why are you running, Fox?” asked the Lion, “is the old man coming?”
“What old man?” said the Fox.
So the Lion told the Fox how the old man can squeeze juice from a stone, how he hunts lions, and how he became the Lion’s master. The Fox laughed.
“Oh, you fool, the old man tricked you! He isn’t strong at all. If you roar just once, the old man will have a heart attack out of fear. Let’s go kill the old man so we can eat him.”
So the Lion followed the Fox. The old man saw the Lion and the Fox from a distance and realized that the Fox had explained everything to the Lion, and that he had to come up with a good story quickly in order to avoid trouble. The old m
“Oh, you stupid Fox, I asked you to bring me a fat lion, and instead you bring me this skinny one. Alright, I guess I’ll eat this skinny one this time, but if you mess up again, I’ll take off your skin myself.”an yelled to the fox from a distance:
The Lion heard the Old Man’s threat and decided that the fox tricked him into a trap. He turned around and ran away as fast as he could.
“You see, my son,” said the old man, “physical strength is not the only important power. The main thing is the intelligence. If you use your brain – you have nothing to fear.”
Translated from Russian by Anastasiya Filippova, Karabakh Foundation Cultural Ambassador
An Azerbaijani Tale
Once upon a time a merchant caught a nightingale in the woods and brought it home. He ordered a beautiful cage to be made of gold and decorated with precious gemstones and crystals and put the nightingale in the golden cage. He even hired a special servant to look after the bird. The merchant’s garden was full of beautiful flowers with exquisite smells. In the middle of the garden there was a pool made of white marble with seven fountains. The merchant ordered to hang up the cage with the nightingale in the shade next to the pool and every evening he came to admire the bird.
However, the nightingale always sang sad songs and appeared gloomy. The merchant found a man who understands the language of birds, and asked him to determine the cause of sorrow of the nightingale.
“Mr. Merchant,” said the man who knows the language of birds, “the nightingale yearns for his homeland, for his nest, for freedom. He sings: It’s better to be poor in his homeland. What is the use of a crown in a foreign land?”
A merchant observed that every day the nightingale became sadder. So he opened the cage and set the bird free.
The merchant and the bird translator saddled their horses and followed the nightingale. The bird flew through the mountains, over the valleys, swam in the rivers, drank from the falls and flew into his nest in the woods where he exclaimed:
“Oh, home! How beautiful you are!”
And the nightingale sang a merry song, jumping from branch to branch, from tree to tree.
“I don’t understand,” said the merchant, “I kept this bird in a golden cage, among roses, fed it and gave it water, and yet he likes the nest in the woods more!”
“Mr. Merchant,” said the man who knew the language of birds, “do not be surprised. Each being values its own home more. The nightingale is free. Freedom is above all else.”
Translated from Russian by Anastasiya Filippova, Karabakh Foundation Cultural Ambassador
The Tale of the Trained Cat
An Azerbaijani Tale
Once upon a time there lived a rich merchant. One day he decided to travel to foreign countries to trade. He bought a lot of different products, said good-bye to his wife and started out on his journey. He traveled from one country to another, until he came to a city, where he decided to stay for some time. In this town there was a custom that every foreign merchant had to present a decent gift to the Shah after which the merchant would be invited to play a game of backgammon with the Shah. And so our merchant laid out a lot of expensive fabrics on a tray, and went into the Palace of the Shah.
The Shah told him that he had a cat that could hold up seven lanterns with its tail for a very long time. He then asked the merchant to play backgammon with him on the following condition: if the cat could hold up seven lanterns with its tail throughout the entire night, the Shah would take all of the merchant’s goods and money and the merchant will go to prison; and if the cat did not last so long, then the merchant would receive all the Shah’s treasure and be able to lock up the Shah himself in prison. The merchant had no choice but to agree to these conditions.
As soon as the Shah called the cat, she came in, rolled her tail and sat down in front of him. The Shah then ordered to put seven lanterns on her tail and began to play backgammon with the poor merchant. They played for three days and three nights, and the cat never moved her tail during the entire time. Finally, exhausted, the merchant got up and admitted his defeat. The greedy and cruel Shah ordered his guards to tie the merchant up and throw him down in the cellar and took all the goods and money that the merchant had. The merchant’s servant saw what happened to his master and hurried back home to tell the merchant’s wife about the unfortunate situation of her husband. She immediately ordered him to catch some mice, and put them in a box. She then disguised herself as a merchant and set out with her caravan to the city where her husband was held prisoner. Upon arrival to the city, she put an expensive gift on a tray and went to the Shah. She ordered her servants to take the box with the mice and release them in pairs into the room where she would be playing backgammon with the Shah.
The Shah soon invited her to play backgammon with him under the same conditions her husband had played. The Shah called in the cat. She immediately ran in, rolled her tail and sat down in front of him. After the seven lanterns were placed on her tail, the Shah and the wife sat down to play backgammon. After a while, a few mice were released into the room. As soon as the cat saw the mice, she was about to rush after them, but the Shah gave her such a stern look that she remained sitting on the ground. In a couple minutes, the servants released a couple more mice into the room. This time, the cat could not resist and ran after the mice, dropping all of the lanterns onto the floor. The wife signaled her servants to come in and they tied up the Shah and put him down in the cellar after releasing her merchant husband. And that’s how the merchant’s wife saved her husband and the people from the rule of the mean and greedy Shah.
Translated from Russian by Anastasiya Filippova, Karabakh Foundation Cultural Ambassador