By Laman Ismayilova
Euronews channel has prepared a video report on Ismayilli's Lahij village to highlight metal art in this charming corner of Azerbaijan.
Lahij is about a three-hour drive west of Baku. Narrow cobbled streets, houses out of river stones, craft workshops ... It seems that nothing has changed here in the last century.
Lahij has long been known as the village of artisans.
The village is famous for its leather production, carpet weaving art. However, it is the coppersmiths that have made Lahij so famous. Highly artistic copperware is the symbol of this small village.
"This workshop is 300 years old now. It has been operating since 1725. I am over 50 years old and my kids are the eighth generation working in this workshop," said coppersmith Kablayi Aliyev.
Copper processing is one of the oldest forms of metalwork. The practice of forming and decorating copperware dates back thousands of years.
Its manufacturing has changed little over the years. Coppersmiths in Lahij are still using traditional tools like sledgehammers and chisels in their hard work that requires strength and patience.
"Kablayi makes copperware, galvanizes it and brings it to me," says the minter Haji Aliyev.
" Next, I decorate copperware with unique patterns. You cannot apply the same pattern to different wares. The chisel is the only tool I use. I don't even mark the pattern with a pencil. I only picture it in my head before minting," he added.
Copperware made in Lahij has been exhibited in world-famous museums, including the Louvre. It is also in high demand in Azerbaijan itself.
Director of the Lahij Museum of History and Local Lore Kamal Aliyev says that copper processing in Lahij goes back several centuries.
"We know for sure that tableware was made here already in the 11th century. In addition, archaeologists have found copper coins minted in Lahij in the Middle Ages in different parts of the country. It is also known that in 1923 there were 200 copper workshops in Lahij," he added.
In 2015, the art of Lahij's coppersmiths was included in the UNESCO List of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Notably, Azerbaijan's rich natural resources have made possible the development of metal art.
The historical findings discovered as a result of excavations on the country's territory prove that as far back as 2,000 B.C ancestors of Azerbaijanis used objects made of various metals in their everyday lives.
After the discovery of copper in the Eneolithic period, metal came to play a major role in the economic, social, and cultural life of the Azerbaijani people.
The discovery of lead, tin, manganese during this period was a completely new step in the country's history, which marked the beginning of a bronze period.
Among the monuments, distinguished by their originality, one can mention the two-headed bronze deer found in the village of Dolanlar in Karabakh.
In ancient times, metal was used in the manufacture of mainly religious handicrafts, so it is possible that the excavated deer was a totem for worshipping people living in these territories.
Kitchen utensils, daggers, axes, belts adornments and other material and cultural samples were also found during excavations.
Among the ancient monuments one of the bronze items, drawing attention from the viewpoint of art and craftsmanship, is the belt. Bronze belts found in Karabakh, Gazakh, Gadabay, and other places captivate with elegance and zoomorphological symbols and patterns.
The Middle Ages are one of the richest periods in the country's history of folk art.
Of particular interest are household utensils, in particular, samples of dishes found during archaeological excavations in Mingachevir and exhibited at the Azerbaijan State Historical Museum. Ancient silver plates, decorated with delicate patterns and beautiful shapes have always been at the center of public attention.
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