See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Azerbaijan: From Carpets to Socks

There are a few fascinating things about Azerbaijani culture that make locals immensely proud and eager to showcase to foreigners visiting the country. One of them is carpets, usually presented to guests as a sign of hospitality, laid under the feet as a sign of respect, or hung on the wall as a sign of prosperity. No wonder that Azerbaijani carpets were last year inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO and often attract the attention of bloggers.

Azerbaijani carpet licensed under Creative Commons by Shakko

Aaron in Azerbaijan, for example, says the art and craft of Azerbaijan takes an important place in the history of the country while noting its different and unique styles. The blog also says the legacy of carpets stretches beyond the country's borders and intertwines with the regional traditions of the South Caucasus.

Azerbaijan is proud of its carpet-weaving history, as it should be. The deep colors and intricate designs are a testament to incredible technical and artistic skill going back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Regional and ethnic nuance within carpet design make for a bursting diversity of aesthetics. There are specific schools of carpets that are classified as Talysh here in southern Azerbaijan or Garabağ out in western Azerbaijan or as Quba up in the north. […] Certainly, the carpet culture goes beyond just Azerbaijan, a cultural feature throughout the Caucasus in Armenia and Georgia, too, and further into Central Asia and the Middle East. Yet it would be a shame to not acknowledge Azerbaijan’s excellence in carpet-weaving.

CBT in Azerbaijan, a travel blog by Peace Corps Volunteers in Azerbaijan, also examines the tradition of carpet weaving and gets to experience it first hand in the north of the country.

Carpet sales are a big business in Azerbaijan and one that is highly regulated by the government. Every carpet that leaves the nation’s borders must first be registered and assigned its own certificate of authenticity. People pay thousands for these things and even more to have them shipped overseas. But I doubt these women were thinking of all that as they weaved away. This is something they have been doing for years.

On a similar note, Sheki, Azerbaijan, a cultural blog, also touches upon the cultural traditions of weaving and knitting, but this time of mattresses and quilts, widespread in the regions of the country if slowly dying out in the capital, Baku.

[…] Historically and traditionally it used to be and continues to be the case for many that an important part of bride's dowry would be mattresses and quilts that she would take with her to new family…there would be two mattresses for master bed, mattresses as a present for her in-laws, couple of mattresses for potential guests and obviously the same number of quilts and even more number of pillows… […]

[…]

Its a particular honour for the guest to be offered a mattress or quilt that newly came with bride's dowry… In Baku fewer bride's would care to have extra mattress or quilt…everything is mainly bought ready… […]

And such traditions are not just confined to carpets. Aiming to benefit the local community, Peace Corps Volunteers in Azerbaijan have even created a special blog where you can order socks online. And not just any socks, but a cultural specialty from the Talysh ethnic minority living in the south of Azerbaijan.

Start the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site