Professor Vidadi Muradov Speaks at the Republic Scientific-Practical Conference
On November 6, the Republic Scientific-Practical Conference on the “Protection and Development of Azerbaijani Carpet Art” was held jointly by the Department of Humanitarian Sciences of ANAS and the Institute of Architecture and Art.
Opening the conference, academician Teymur Karimli, academic secretary of the ANAS Department of Humanitarian Sciences, said that carpet weaving is one of the most widespread types of decorative-applied art and is a part of our national culture. In recent years, carpet weaving in our country has been receiving significant attention. The development of carpet weaving is important in terms of the protection of material and cultural heritage. Azerbaijani carpets are known all over the world. Azerbaijani carpet art was included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2010.
Then, Artegin Salamzade, the director of the Institute of Architecture and Art, correspondent member of the Academy, spoke on the topic of "Heydar Aliyev's Image on Azerbaijani Carpets". It is emphasized in the report that the Azerbaijani carpet reflects the history of our country. Artegin Salamzade spoke about how the image of national leader Heydar Aliyev, who always contributed to the development of this field, is reflected on the carpets. Artegin Salamzade spoke about the importance of the scientific-practical conference and the relevance of the reports to be delivered here.
Vidadi Muradov, Professor, Doctor of Historical Sciences, and the Chairman of the Board of the Azerkhalcha Open Joint Stock Company, spoke at the conference on the theme of "Azerkhalcha OJSC is Safeguarding the Azerbaijani Carpet Art." He noted that Azerbaijan is home to the talented carpet makers who create and develop carpet weaving, and to the merchants who make them internationally recognized. The presence of a rich raw material basis, especially sheep farms and natural dyes, has created ample opportunities for carpet weaving as an independent art and production field. Countries that have rich history of carpet weaving like Iran, Anatolia and Far East countries have had greater influence on the artistic and technological diversity of the Azerbaijani carpets. By playing a major and dominant role in the Caucasian carpet weaving in general, Azerbaijani carpet weaving pushed for the emergence and development of carpet weaving traditions of various peoples and ethnic groups living here.
It was emphasized that in the late Middle Ages, especially between the 16th and the first quarter of the 20th centuries, the circulation of the Azerbaijani carpets in the world carpet trade was high. The Azerbaijani carpets that were transported to various countries around the world are now protected in the museums like "Victoria and Albert", "Metropolitan", Louvre, Hermitage, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, Georgian National Museum, Russian Ethnographic Museum, and private collections. As of the second quarter of the twentieth century, there were drawbacks, delays and even stagnation in the field of carpet weaving, and the production rate was low due to the political and socioeconomic factors. However, carpets have always existed in Azerbaijan territory, and this art has been taught and promoted as a family art.
After gaining independence, special attention was given to the development of carpet weaving by the government in Azerbaijan. This art field has been promoted by various companies and individual carpet makers since the early 1990s. The Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan “On the Protection and Development of the Azerbaijani Carpet Art” was adopted, a modern building was built for the Carpet Museum, and carpet museums were established in the districts reflecting the local carpet traditions. Decrees on the organization of the Azerbaijani Carpets 5th International Symposium, and on the approval of the "State Program for the Protection and Development of Carpets in the Republic of Azerbaijan for 2018-2022" were signed. These are the results of the attention and care of the Azerbaijani government for carpet weaving, and appreciation of carpet weaving as a historical, cultural and socio-economic factor. The main center of carpet weaving in Azerbaijan is Azerkhalcha Open Joint Stock Company. The Company was established by the Order, dated May 5, 2016, of Mr. Ilham Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Vidadi Muradov added that the inclusion of May 5, the day the Company was established, in the national calendar as a professional holiday – “The Day of Carpet Makers" is an unprecedented event in the world. Carpet weaving has existed in many parts of the world, and has survived until today. However, it is the historical right of Azerbaijani carpets and carpet makers that this event was first realized in our country. The main purpose of Azerkhalcha is to produce carpet and carpet products using traditional methods, to organize their export and sales, to introduce new technologies in carpet weaving, to modernize the material and technical basis and to carry out other works related to the development of this sector.
It was emphasized that Azerbaijani carpet weaving art is a complex concept. In addition to weaving carpets, making raw materials available, processing, repairing and selling them are of great importance. The Azerkhalcha OJSC develops the carpet industry in the country on the basis of this complex approach. By transforming it into a mass production field, it creates a network of carpet weaving on stable and healthy foundations in our Republic. One of the primary and main work targets of the Company is the mass organization of carpet weaving in the territory of the country using national traditions.
For this purpose, the establishment of the branches in the districts of the republic has been launched. When establishing branches, priority is given to the carpet centers having historical traditions, and to the districts having more professional weavers. It should be noted that this factor applies to almost all districts of Azerbaijan.
Fuzuli, Agdam, Shamkir, Tovuz, Agstafa, Gazakh, Guba, Khachmaz, Ismayilli, Gabala, Lankaran, Gobustan, Shabran, Jabrayil, Kurdamir, Tartar, Goranboy, Nakhchivan, Absheron, Nardaran and Second Ismayilli branches were set up between 2016 and 2018. Each of these branches has the capacity to employ 150 weavers and 14 administrative and technical employees. New and modern buildings of the branches include a textile workshop, a warehouse, a dining room, a conference room, a medical room, a sale hall, and other departments. Statistical analyses on the districts by Azerkhalcha show that our republic has the potential to further expand and strengthen the carpet production network in the coming years.
Educational and preparatory courses organized by Azerkhalcha operate in the districts, also. The classes are delivered by professional and experienced carpet makers. The number of weavers who have already taken the preparatory courses and mastered the secrets of this profession is over 1,500. There are many young weavers among them. After completing the course, students receive a Certificate of Vocational Education from the Company upon practical examination. They will be provided with permanent jobs at local branches. It is important to note that the training of personnel in the Azerkhalcha Open Joint Stock Company is given special attention.
In addition to weavers, carpet-weaving artists, specialists in the supply, processing of wool and dye plants, processing of finished carpets, carpet trade and carpet weaving are also trained. Azerkhalcha carpets are woven using the designs made by carpet-artists of the Company's Art Creativity and Quality Control Department. For the first time in Azerbaijan, the electronic versions of new designs based on ancient carpets, and their cataloging on Baku, Karabakh, Nakhchivan, Iravan, Tabriz, Shirvan, Guba, Ganja, Gazakh-Borchali groups are also carried out here. Preference is given to making designs based on unique Azerbaijani carpets and carpet products, kept in museums and collections around the world. Each design is a primary database of carpet in itself. The design paper contains information on the carpet's size, density, number of warp and weft threads, and the colors employed. So far, about 2,000 carpet designs have been developed and applied in the production.
The Chairman of the Board stated that the Company aims to promote the Azerbaijani carpet as a genuine "Azerbaijani Brand" by making carpets using Azerbaijani raw materials. Local and foreign experts have confirmed that our country has the potential for this. A Wool Spinning and Dye Factory is being built at the Sumgayit Chemical Industrial Park for this purpose. The factory, to be equipped with equipment from Turkey, New Zealand, China, Switzerland, Germany, France and Italy, is one of the largest economic projects of recent years. The factory will produce clean wool, wool yarn, natural and chemical dye agents. The demand of the branches of Azerkhalcha and private carpet weaving enterprises for wool yarn will be met in the first place. To provide the Wool Spinning and Dye Factory with raw materials, regional wool and dye plant supply centers have also been established in Nakhchivan city, Gobustan, Shabran, Barda, Sabirabad districts. These facilities, which are equipped with advanced equipment, are expected to collect up to 1,500 tons of wool and dye plant raw materials per year. In order to intensify the process of the sale of the Company’s carpets, it is also planned to build a Center for Processing Ready Carpets at the Sumgayit Chemical Industrial Park.
It was noted that the Company seeks to expand its relations with specialized international carpet weaving companies, and reputable publications, thereby recovering the position of Azerbaijani carpets and promoting them in the international carpet market. Our carpets were presented as “Azerbaijani Brand” at the traditional DOMOTEX international carpet trade fair in Hanover, Germany, at the Rug Show in New York City, at the exhibition held in Seoul city of South Korea. The international events confirm that the new handmade Azerbaijani carpets are in great demand in the world markets and there is an opportunity for the intensive sale of Azerkhalcha products to foreign countries in the near future.
In 2020, we will also showcase our products at exhibitions in the United States of America and the United Arab Emirates. The materials reflecting the work of the Azerkhalcha Open Joint-Stock Company are published in magazines like "HALI" and “Carpet XL.” As of its 190th issue, the “HALI” magazine has been highlighting the work of Azerkhalcha as the restorer and promoter of the traditional weaving methods, as the mass producer of handmade carpets, and the bearer of the ancient carpet weaving traditions in the South Caucasus. In general, it is possible to get comprehensive information about the Company's work and products from its web pages in Azerbaijani, English and Russian languages, social networks such as Instagram and Facebook.
The Azerkhalcha OJSC will continue its efforts to expand the carpet production by traditional methods, to create and strengthen the material and technical basis of carpet weaving on the basis of internal means, to train carpet makers and to protect the international image of the Azerbaijani carpets.
At the conference, reports on the topics of "The Image of Heydar Aliyev in Azerbaijani Carpets", "Main Directions of Development of Karabakh School Carpets and Palace Carpets of Karabakh", "Carpets in Azerbaijani Cinema Art", "Hunting Motives in Azerbaijani Carpets", and “The Application Value of Learning the Late Middle Ages Ganja Carpets” were listened to.