By Nigar Orujova
President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva have inaugurated the new building of the Azerbaijani Carpet Museum on August 26.
Azerbaijan is one of the leading countries worldwide in terms of the art of carpet weaving. In 2010, Azerbaijan's traditional art of carpet weaving was included in the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The Carpet Museum, where unique samples of applied arts are exhibited, has been located in different places throughout its history. Under instructions of President Ilham Aliyev, the government decided to construct a separate building for the museum with the aim of expanding its capabilities and effectiveness of demonstrating carpets that represent unique pearls of Azerbaijan.
The foundation laying ceremony of the building was held at the Seaside National Park on May 15, 2008. Its design is reminiscent of a rolled up carpet, The Heydar Aliyev Foundation and UNESCO e contributed to the construction of the facility.
The new building houses 13,300 exhibits and items, including carpets, thread-work samples, metalwork, fabrics, clothing, ceramic, glass, wooden and paper items, jewellery, books, and a unique collection of photographs.
The exhibits are conserved on the basis of recommendations and instructions of Louis Sguirer, a renowned specialist in fabric conservation at the Victoria and Albert Museum who was invited to Baku in 2013.
Designed by acclaimed Austrian architect Franz Janz, the museum highlights all areas of the Azerbaijani carpet making school and features a wide assortment of centuries-old carpets and thread-work samples.
The president and his spouse paid a visit to a souvenir shop here. The head of state viewed the photographs reflecting stages of the construction of the new building of the museum.
Addressing the opening ceremony, President Aliyev said, the Carpet Museum was opened in Azerbaijan on the initiative of prominent scientist, professor and artist Latif Karimov in the late 1960s. However, the museum did not have a building of its own. On the initiative of great leader Heydar Aliyev, funds were allocated to replenish the funds of the museum and the first exhibition was held at the Juma Mosque in the Old City in 1972. In the years of independence, the Carpet Museum operated in the Museum Center.
"Carpets are our national art. It is impossible to imagine Azerbaijan without carpets and carpets without Azerbaijan," he said.
"The Carpet Museum built in Azerbaijan was to stand out both in terms of interior decoration and appearance," the president noted
Considerable attention was paid to the design works, and as a result of the works of Austrian architects, this project has been accomplished and it is quite unique.
He went on saying that Azerbaijan has very diverse and ancient architectural works protected by UNESCO. "The Old City, the Palace of the Shirvan Shahs, the Maiden Tower - these are our national assets. At the same time, the examples of modern architecture created in Azerbaijan and Baku in recent years are also pleasing to the eyes. Ancient architectural monuments and modern monuments form harmony and a single ensemble in Baku."
The recent years have seen the emergence of such modern landmarks of Azerbaijan as the Heydar Aliyev Center, the Flame Towers and the Flag Square. These architectural works demonstrate the power and development of modern Azerbaijan.
"I can say that the building of the Carpet Museum is also one of them now. It is also unique, and I do hope that no one will want to replicate this piece of architecture in the future. The modern architectural works established in Azerbaijan are sometimes seen in other places. But this is already a product of Azerbaijan and I am very happy that this beautiful and majestic museum is opening today," he added.
"There is a nice combination of interior decoration and samples of our carpets, our national heritage and unique architecture. And this all makes me very happy as it shows again how talented our people are. Carpets are our national art. We believe that Azerbaijan is the birthplace of the art of carpet weaving. Carpets are our national treasure and wealth, alongside mugham and architectural monuments," the president stressed.
The head of state said:"It is no coincidence that after the construction project of the museum kicked off on our initiative, the Azerbaijani art of carpet weaving was included in the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage."
"We are protecting our carpets and our art of carpet weaving. A relevant law on the conservation and development of Azerbaijani carpets has been adopted. This is our great asset, and we certainly should strive to ensure that the younger generation takes an interest in this art. We need to promote it," President Aliyev said.
Currently, carpet museums operate both in Baku and in different regions. At the same time, carpet weaving clubs have been operating within Heydar Aliyev Centers in all regions of Azerbaijan in recent years.
"This will give us the opportunity to develop this art and make the links between generations even stronger. Our outstanding masters of carpet weaving should, of course, pass on their experience to the younger generation. At the same time, our beautiful carpets demonstrated here today are sure to attract young people to this art, and thus the Azerbaijani art of carpet weaving will continue to develop," he said.
Cultural heritage, history and culture of Azerbaijan are very rich. Azerbaijani presentations, exhibitions and concerts have been held in various countries around the world in recent years and carpets are always at the center of such presentations, as they are a truly great asset on a global scale.
"I believe that the Azerbaijani carpet is a benchmark of the carpet weaving art in the world. It is no coincidence that our carpets are on display in the most famous museums in the world," the president stressed.
Over the years and centuries, Azerbaijani carpets have been on display in the world. Nevertheless, due to the fact that the country was not independent, these carpets were not presented as being Azerbaijani.
"The state, the government, relevant agencies and public organizations did an enormous job by presenting our carpets and this art belons to the Azerbaijani people. I believe that the museum will create additional opportunities for our nation. I am sure that most visitors to Baku will come here," he said.
President Aliyev also noted that national values, arts and culture are the foundation of Azerbaijan's independence.
"Music festivals, competitions, international Mugham competitions - all this enriches the cultural life of Azerbaijan and is highly appreciated by the Azerbaijani people," he said.
The president underlined that all the museums have been renovated in Baku in recent years and some of them are being repaired now. New museums are emerging in the regions and in Baku - the Museum of Modern Art, other museums, the Carpet Museum, which shows the overall rate of development of our country and also reflects the government policy.
"In a short time, in just 23 years of independence, Azerbaijan has gone a very long and glorious path. If we had gained independence not in 1991 but in 1971 or 1950, Azerbaijan would be the most developed country in the world today. But we are going down this path, strengthening and developing our country. There are specific programs in each field. Political and economic reforms are carried out. Regional development programs are implemented. Of course, consistent work is carried out in relation to our cultural life, heritage and culture," President Aliyev stressed.