By Laman Ismayilova
The National Carpet Museum has represented Azerbaijan at the Selvedge World Fair 2021, a celebration of cloth culture and creativity.
Director of the National Carpet Museum, chairman of the ICOM Azerbaijan National Committee Shirin Melikova was invited to the fair as a member of the selection committee.
The last day of the fair, known as "Creative Day", featured virtual meetings, film presentations, interviews with artists, masterclasses and much more.
Shirin Melikova hosted the session held as part of the "Create Day". She provided insight into Azerbaijan's carpet weaving art and highlighted the Carpet Museum's innovative projects and inclusive programs.
In her speech, Shirin Melikova also touched upon the art of hand dyeing yarn and the revival of ancient carpet weaving techniques.
The virtual event showcased textile traditions from at least 15 countries, including Azerbaijan, New Zealand, Japan, India, Egypt, Austria, Great Britain, Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Canada.
Following this, the participants joined a virtual tour at the world's first Carpet Museum led by the Head of International Relations and Innovations Department Firahnaz Musayeva,
People's Artist Eldar Mikayilzade welcomed participants in his workshop. The carpet artist talked about the preservation and development of carpet weaving traditions in Azerbaijan and demonstrated the weaving process of new woolen and silk carpets.
Famous artisans from New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, India, Egypt, Austria, Great Britain, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, and Canada joined the meeting.
The fair showcased collections by over 150 artisans demonstrating the national and cultural heritage and textile traditions of 75 countries.
Notably, the Carpet Museum stores over 14,000 exhibits of the finest Azerbaijani carpets.
The museum hosts multiple events, including international symposiums, conferences and various exhibitions.
In 2019, the museum received the national status for its significant contribution to the popularization and promotion of the Azerbaijani Carpet Weaving Art.
In 2020, the Carpet Museum enriched its collection with beautiful pile carpets purchased by the Culture Ministry at the Sartirana Textile Show in Italy.
The 19th century Guba carpet Ugakh was donated to the Carpet Museum, while Karabakh carpet Chelebi enriched the collection of the museum's Shusha branch.
The Carpet Museum also focuses on cooperation with world-leading museum organizations.
Moreover, the Carpet Museum won Travelers' Choice Awards for the fourth time in a row last year.
Carpet-weaving art is considered an integral part of Azerbaijani culture and craftsmanship. Azerbaijani carpets are stored in many prestigious museums and private galleries around the world.
According to their technical aspects, Azerbaijani carpets are classified as flat-woven (pileless) and knotted (pile). The flat-woven carpets are linked to the earlier period of carpet weaving. There are several kinds of pileless carpets such as Shadda, Verni, Jejim, Zilli, Sumakh, Kilim and Palas.
Shadda is a flat weave carpet, made primarily in Nakhchivan, Agdam, Gubadly, Agjabadi. The artistic composition of shadda made by complicated whipping, as well as its constituents have a complex form.
One of the most widely spread types of flat-weave carpet is "verni". The key pattern of "verni" is the S-element. Its shape varies, it may resemble both figure 5 and letter S. This element means "dragon" among the nomads and “water” among the village people. According to ancient beliefs, a dragon featuring carpet would protect the family from foul weather. Agjabadi, Barda, Aghdam, Nakhchivan are the centers of this type of pileless carpets.
Jejims are woven on simple horizontal looms by narrow stripes 30–35 cm wide and 15–10 cm long. The resulting product is a cloth to be used as a wall carpet, a bedding coverlet, or curtains.
The major jejim production centers are Barda, Nakhchivan, Zangilan, Shusha, Shamakhi.
Zilli carpet is characterized by stylized forms of animals and vegetal elements. In terms of their composition and pattern the Azerbaijani zillis are very diverse. They feature images of large elements in the shape of big lozenges, paired horns, and various stylized elements.
The Sumakh carpets have become widely spread and recognized over the last few centuries. Since the 18th century, they have been made in the country's Guba and Gusar regions.
The Sumakh carpets feature diverse stylized vegetal motifs, various geometrical elements such as large hexahedral, square, rhomboid medallions.
Kilim is the most widespread type of flat-woven carpets. They are made by passing the weft through the warp using the technique of compound interweaving. Kilim is characterized by a slot-like gap (opening) around the geometrical patterns.
The technique of kilim weaving predetermines the pattern shapes in the form of a lozenge, triangle, and trapezium. Images of animals, birds and humans are geometrized in kilims. Kilims of different regions are distinguished by their composition, pattern, and colors. In terms of their technical peculiarities, kilims can be classified into five major groups based on the area of production: Kazakh, Karabakh, Absheron, Shirvan and Tabriz kilims.
Palas is one of the widely spread flat-weave carpets. The palas weaving process consists in passing the weft through the warp by a simple technique.
The weavers decorate the palas by traditional patterns in the form of horizontal stripes commonly used throughout Azerbaijan. As a rule, the palas is not framed by a border.
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