In 1967, the Azerbaijan State Museum was established as a specialized museum to promote Carpet and Applied Art. Carpet weaving is the spirit of the museum.
The museum researched and displayed the wide variety of traditional weaving and carpets in Azerbaijan before and during the Soviet period. The museum kept collecting carpets throughout the 1970s and 80s.
The museum hosted the first exhibition in 1972 when Juma Mosque used to house the museum in Baku's old city. In the 1990s, the museum was shifted to a new location after the Soviet Union's collapse. By 2007, the government and the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, moved the museum to a Seaside National Park to improve the country's cultural reach.
The Austrian architect Franz Janz designed the new building in six years. The building, akin to a rolled carpet, opened to the masses in 2014.
Over 10,000 exhibits include metalwork, textiles, embroideries, jewelry, objects from woven materials, flat-woven carpets, pile carpets. The city embraced modern architecture as the building stock began to see massive change.
Azerbaijani carpet has evolved from a simple woven mat to sophisticated forms, such as Palas, Kilim, Shadda, Varni, Zili, Sumakh, Ladi, and Jejim. The ancient origin of the craft dates back to the 2nd millennium BC.
In 2010, UNESCO declared the traditional art of Azerbaijan carpet weaving as an intangible cultural heritage because of its importance and place in shaping world culture.
Ancient Azeri saying goes, "My home is where my carpet is spread." This ultra-modern carpet museum links past to the present with oriental carpets.
The flat-woven carpets date from the 18th to 20th centuries, with around 600 items in the collection. Palas and Jejim styles feature colored stripes of different width with a simple inter-weaving technique, and geometric patterns decorate Kilim with a complex inter-weaving technique. Shadda, Zili, Sumakh, and Varni are other flat-woven carpets.
Around 2300 pile(knotted) carpets date from the 17th to early 20th century. These carpets form the core of the collection and represent the four major types of carpet weaving in Azerbaijan: Tabriz, Karabakh, Ganja-Gazakh, and Guva-Shirvan.
The design comprises motifs, its meaning, and symbols. In Asia, the buta is a widely used motif in carpets. It is linked with divine fire and the 'Bird of Juno.' It is the peacock associated with the Roman goddess Juno's (Greek Hera) chariot.
The cross is another famous motif. It is an ancient religious sign associated with the ideas of abundance and fertility. The form of a diamond-shaped cross with hooks on all four sides is the most wide-spread interpretation of cross on Azerbaijan carpets and flat-weaves.
It has been used as decoration. This motif first appeared on the carpet between the 14th and 15th centuries with trade and relations between China and Central Asia. Dragon carpets feature concise and well-laid-out composition, decorative elements, and color palette.
It is a medallion-shaped motif and linked to abundance and wealth. In Azerbaijani carpets, it is used as a popular decorative motif. Gyols describes as ‘elephant’s foot’ motif in the West.
Tree of Life
The ubiquitous Tree of Life is a popular motif in decoration in Azerbaijan. It originated in the region from the black-glazed ceramics of the Bronze Age. The earliest tribes worshipped trees. In many rural areas of the country, childless women used to tie pieces of fabric in the branches of agadj piri, sacred trees for a wish to conceive.
In carpets, the motif portrays pairs of birds, animals, or people by the sides of stylized trees of life. The tree represents the universe where paired images of people and animals like snakes, dragons, and birds correspond to life spheres.
The design can have botanical trees, such as cypress, palm, pomegranate, and stylized plant forms. Vag-vagi is a popular pattern that shows heads of animals and people growing on mythical plants in place of flowers and fruits.
With the emergence of Islam in Azerbaijan from the 8th to 9th centuries, religious motifs with Islamic culture elements began to be found. Samples of Quranic or Arabic calligraphy in the Kufi script were prevalent.
Architectural motifs of mihrab oriented the faithful to direct their prayers towards Mecca. The geometrical precise proportions and forms of the Kufi script were adaptable to the ornamentation of carpets.
This decoration with a talismanic script is typical to the carpets from Shirvan, Guba, Gazakh, and Baku.
16th century saw the appearance of prayer rugs(namazliks). These prayer rugs depicted the mihrab in the upper part of the central field. The small-sized carpets with these motifs were designed for personal use; some rare examples are group prayer.
Oriental carpets in Medieval Europe symbolized wealth, and they found a place in paintings from the 14th century onwards. Carpets glorified the sitter and the location of significant action. Renaissance painting had oriental carpets with Christian saints and religious background.
After trade rise between East and West, carpets represented the idea of status, wealth, and luxury because more people could afford luxury goods. The commissioned portraits of wealthy burghers and merchants depicted oriental rugs. Lotto, Memling, Bellini, and Holbein are the western artists linked with carpets.
The depiction in western European paintings declined after carpets became commonplace in the late 17th and 18th centuries. Carpets lost charm as a status symbol.
Timings are subject to change. You will be automatically booked into a time slot as part of the check out process. Please visit the official website to confirm the time slot before your visit.