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Historical monuments

Characteristics of Nakhchivan carpets

In Nakhchivan, the abundance of green meadows, springs, and rivers have created ideal conditions for sheep breeding here for thousands of years. Sheep play an important role in the lives of local population; fine sheep’s wool, opened up opportunities for the creation and development of one of the popular arts - carpet weaving. 

As in other districts of Azerbaijan, Nakhchivan carpets are divided into two large groups distinguished by their artistic characteristics: ornamental and plotted carpets.  The majority of carpets produced are ornamental.

Household items like zili and shedde style horse and camel covers (chul), holdalls (mefresh), saddle-bags (khurjun), heybe and saltshakers were produced in larger numbers, mostly in mountainous regions.

Flat-woven kilims woven in Nakhchivan were very essential in daily lives. Although similar to Karabakh kilims in terms of their colors and artistic features, Nakhchivan kilims have their own unique characteristics.

Nakhchivan Zilis, woven using complicated winding techniques, are superior in quality to shedde and verni.

Felting has been one of the historically-developed art fields in the villages of Shahbuz and Sherur. The felt, which has the ability to create coolness in summer and protect from the cold in winter, has been widely used for covering the roofs and sides of huts and shacks, covering the floors and decorating houses, making felt cloak (yapinji), hat, winding (dolaq), boots, socks, cassock (eba), gapilig (something for door), heybe, horse cover (chul), chuval (sack), sweat cloth (terlik) for cargo animals, palan (pack saddle), saddle cover, load felt, and other household needs.  

Pile-weave carpets were woven more than flat-weave carpets in Nakhchivan. These carpets were also more prominent during the first developmental period of carpet-weaving art. The compositions of these carpets are made out of multi-shaped pattern elements. The decorative elements depicted on these carpets are found on faience dishes, stone and metal tools along with a variety of decorative items from different periods found during archeological excavations. 

The depiction of cherkhi-felek element (four-element) that is widespread in the artistic design of Nakhchivan carpets is also encountered on cultural monuments of the II-I millennia BC. The cherkhi-felek is usually represented in the center of big medallions. This element is also found on the Nakhchivan carpets with “Chelebi” composition. Nakhchivan carpets are very different from the carpets of other districts in relation to their colors. The contrast of light and dark colors gives special harmony to the Nakhchivan carpets.

Dye-houses have operated in Nakhchivan for thousands of years. Carpet masters obtained colors from different plants, flowers, tree barks to dye the yarns. For instance, yellow and yellowish colors were obtained from sarichop, sarigul (yellow flower) and fig leaves; red and pink colors from dye plant (marena), cochineal; pea and creamy colors from onion and apple skins, oak color from nut skin; navy blue and blue colors from natural indigo imported from abroad. In order to improve the ability of natural colors, professional dyers mixed them with hardening substances like alum, salt and animal urine. 

In parallel with other regions of Azerbaijan, these carpets are woven using the “gordest” (turkbaf) method. The knot density in the pileweave carpets of this group is 30x32, 35x37, 30x38, 25x28, 25x32, 40x45, 20x33, 30x44, and 30x42 per sq.dm.  The knot density in the flatweave carpets is 60x60, 100x100, 70x80, 70x70, 80x80, 60x80, and 60x70 per sq.dm. The height of the pile is from 6 mm to 10 mm. Carpets woven here are mostly large and oblong shaped, but they can also be small. Although the density of these carpets is medium or less, they are durable, thick and long-lasting. The carpets and carpet products of Nakhchivan in their original pattern composition are held in the museums and private collections in Azerbaijan and many countries of the world. The numbers of pile-weave and flat-weave carpets and other carpet products held in private collections are as follow: 5 from Nakhchivan city, 5 from Babek region, 5 from Julfa, 3 from Kengerli, 6 from Ordubad, 4 from Sederek, 6 from Shahbuz, 10 from Sherur. As a result of our studies, we obtained information about 254 weavers from 68 villages of seven regions of the AR. These include 31 from Shahbuz, 58 from Serur, 8 from Sederek , 49 from Babek, 37 from Julfa, 35 from Kengerli, and 36 from Ordubad.

At present carpet workshops operate in in the regions and villages of Nakhchivan . Educational centers aimed at developing carpet weaving have also been established.  The Nakhchivan State Carpet museum has a new building where visitors can view magnificent exhibits. A number of antique pileweave and flatweave carpet products from Nakhchivan group are also displayed here.