Azerbaijan has a rich and varied textile history with a particular emphasis on weave, knit, and embroidery. Many richly decorated fabrics were produced in the past using silk, gold and silver threads, which were worked onto a relatively thick background fabric, which often included various rich velvets. Local pearls and beads were also added to these richly decorated pieces of handwork to add to the emphasis of richness and depth. Color was another form used to emphasize the richness of the work with colors of both threads and backgrounds often being dazzlingly heightened, all adding to the overall display effect.

Azerbaijan, an ancient center of carpet weaving, boasts a culture centered on a large variety of crafts. The archeological dig on the territory of Azerbaijan testifies to the well-developed agriculture, stock raising, metal working, pottery, ceramics, and carpet-weaving that dates as far back as to the 2nd millennium BCE. For centuries, Azerbaijani carpet designers and weavers have produced many of the world’s “Oriental carpets.”

Carpet weaving remains among Azerbaijanis’ most cherished cultural traditions, kept alive despite centuries of foreign invasions and upheavals. Employing a vast portfolio of mostly geometric designs, weavers created some of the masterpieces of tapestry that today adorn the collections in the leading museums around the world.

For many centuries, both settled and nomadic ways of life were central to Azerbaijani life. Carpets became a symbol of a united Azerbaijani culture that merged the nomadic and settled people. Carpet weavers intended to unite people and cultivate a sense of collectivism, mutual aid, and friendly cohesion. An Azerbaijani carpet is not only one of the most important elements in the national way of life and simply a variety of the arts and crafts, but also a key link to the ethical and moral principles and customs of the people’s existence. Azerbaijani carpets are highly valued by the heads of states, while the gifted carpet weavers were glorified by the greatest poets.

The carpet history is assumed to be divided into the following four main periods:

– I period – the early stage of the carpet development. The carpet ware is very simple, without any motifs and patterns. The first palas and djedjims appear.

– II period – introduction of the kilim weaving practice by the intricate threading technique.

– III period – weaving of shadda, verni, sumakh, zili. The period of simple and complex whipping techniques.

– IV period – introduction of the knotted pile weaving. Both from the technical and artistic standpoints this stage can be considered the acme of the carpet making.

The territory of Southern and Northern Azerbaijan saw different states, religions, and tribal cultures throughout these four times periods. An inevitable mutual influence and association between the neighboring cultures always exists, whether peaceful or militant. These differences were also reflected in carpet making. Throughout the four periods, Azerbaijan developed numerous carpet production centers; each featured its own specific style and school. The major carpet weaving schools may be distinguished by patterns, composition, color palette and techniques in Azerbaijan: Quba School, Baku or Absheron School, Shirvan School, Ganja School, Gazakh School, Karabakh School, Tabriz School.

Kids Zone

Here are some traditional Caucasus textile designs for you to color or use to decorate something:
Caucasus Coloring 1 Caucasus Coloring 2 Caucasus Coloring 3 Caucasus Coloring 4

Azerbaijani arts and crafts traditions include metalworking, embroidery, stone carving, and knitting, among other folk traditions. Here, you can find some socks in the Azerbaijani tradition that you can make yourself! If you need help, ask an experienced knitter! Knit Azerbaijani Socks!.

Word Search

Have a little fun while learning about Azerbaijani carpets by completing the word search below!

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  • hurjins: multi-colored carpet saddlebags
  • mafrashes: carpet bags for bedding
  • guzgugabi: small bags for carrying mirrors
  • shadda, verni, zilli, and kilim: Azerbaijani carpet styles