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The craft of the metal art in Azerbaijan

  


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Since ancient times, the Azerbaijani land, which is rich of natural resources historically have made possible the development of the crafts in this area. Moses Kalankatsky, Albanian historian who lived in the VII century, provides information about the natural wealth and natural resources of Caucasian Albania in his work. The historian deals with the production of various kinds of metals: «There is a lot of different fish in the Kura River that runs through this beautiful country... The gold, silver, copper and yellow paint are extracted in mountains... .
Today the unique examples found in different areas of that country has witnessed on ancient history.  The age of the works of art made of metal found in Nakhchivan, Mingachevir, Gadabey, Gazakh, Ganja, and so on places is approximately of 5000 years old. Kitchen utensils, weapons and adornments found in this area is a valuable source not only as a historical fact, but also as informing about skills of the master creating it.
The important stage of this development is connected with the discovery of copper. After discovery of copper in Azerbaijan in Eneolithic period the metal began to play a prominent role in the economic, industrial, social and cultural life of primitive communal society. 
Material and cultural samples found during excavations in the territory of the country shows that our ancestors even in II millennium BC used to produce thin brass plates, daggers, axes, belts adornments and so on.
 Products made of brass during this period, despite having exact working and sometimes very original forms, mainly were without patterns.  al form, although there was a common basis. Among monuments with its original form and working, the double head bronze figure of deer found in Dolanlar village of Garabakh.
Among the ancient monuments one of the items, made of bronze, drawing attention from viewpoint of art and craftsmanship is belts.  The zoomorphic pictures and adornments on these bronze belts found in Garabagh, Gazakh, Gadabey and etc fascinate the man. The very interesting point here is that the information on Caucasian people given by Greek scientist Strabo (63-19 BC) is same as described in cloth, weapons and utensils.  At that time, metal manufacture in the southern part of Azerbaijan had reached a higher level.
Rare art works found in Hasanli, Garatepe, Ziviye and so on places approximately 70 km away from the city of Tabriz, in the vicinity of Lake Urmia, are not just materials enlightening history and culture and art of Azerbaijan but are very valuable document that can clarify the problems of Middle East culture’s development. 

The Middle Ages comprise one of the richest periods in the history of the crafts in history of Azerbaijani folk art. Among utensils demonstrated in Azerbaijani History Museum and found during archeological excavation in Mingachevir utensils are especially interesting. Among these vessels, the pan made of silver always drew attention of visitors with its fine and beautiful form.
Remaining faithful to the national traditions, the household items once found in Dagestan, and bronze vessel at present are exhibited at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. The roses, flowers, branches, engraved on the vessel and their general arrangement and stylistic features attribute to VI-VII centuries. The herbal ornaments on big medallion in the mid of the vessel draw attention in particular. 
The Azerbaijani masters used metal in this century not only as household items, but made with fine jewelry.
Gold, silver belt parts, ring, bracelet and so on items found during excavation works in Mil plain, Gabala, Mingachevir, Nakhchivan and so, show that Azerbaijani jewelry art was at high level even until the early Middle Ages. At most complex technical methods of jewelry art: decorated with shebeke(networking), engraving, pen work and so on distinguish with exquisite works of art in their original form.
An interesting point is that the jewelry found in the decorative elements, for example, the moon, stars and so on motives, reached our age and used by contemporary artists.
On XI-XV centuries, the works of art metal found among art examples draw the attention. These examples are mainly fund in the Old City (Icheri shehe) during archaeological excavations in the palace of the Shirvan Reserve. Among those metal pieces one lamp made of bronze differs in particular.

The bronze barbeque brazier found in the region of Guba of the XIII-XIV centuries can be attributed to monuments related to Shirvan area. This bronze barbeque with height of 30 cm, diameter of 131 cm and in form the of semi balloon with its original form and ornamental decorations draw the attention. The articles on the barbeque brazier show that it was made   bu Ahmed Mohammed oglu, local copper master. In the metal art craftsmanship  Beylagan, Sheki, Ganja, Nakhchivan and Tabriz  are considered as important centers on those centuries.
Art samples found here during archaeological excavations once again proves it. In this collection of works of art the bronze man, birds found in the Beylagan (Oren-qala) and bronze jug, made in 1190 by Osman Salman oglu Nakhchivani and nowadays kept in Louvre museum of Paris.   

It seems from these monuments of art that the life in this century and metal parts used in domestic life are mostly made of bronze. At XIV-XV centuries in this art field of metal art  city of Tabriz occupied one of the prominent places. As early as the second half of the XIII century, the famous Venetian traveler Marco Polo visited the city of Tabriz, reported about big size of city, its position in the development of a variety of handicraft. Presently in many well-known museums of the world, many original metal arts created in Tabriz in these centuries are displayed.  Of these, art cup made of Yusuf ibn Ahmad Tabrizi in 1319 and currently kept in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and Bronze Age spear kept in St. Petersburg at State Hermitage draw attention especially. 
Besides Tabriz, there are many actual samples showing development of the art metal in other cities in this period.
At present in the personal collection of Harari one original bronze item of XV century is kept in  America. The device used in the science of astronomy, according to the records on it, in 1468, was made by the famous master of Shirvan Sukrullah Mukhis in 1468. This is a highly technical device, as well it draws the attention with the decorations.
In the XVI-XVII centuries, making of home equipment, weapons and adornments was developed widely in Tabriz, Ardabil, Tabriz, Nakhichevan, Ganja, Shamakhi and especially in the city of Baku. During this period, weapons (daggers, swords, knob, shield) made by Azerbaijani craftsmen and armored clothes (helmet, elbow protector, pants and so on) are especially popular. 
In Russian sources the name of weapons made in Shamakhi in these centuries are found often. In one of such sources, the talk is about 8 armored helmets of Russian tsar Boris Godunov made by one of the masters of Shamakhi.
One shield draws attention in particular, which stored in Kremlin arm palace related to XIV century. This shield with unprecedented beauty was one of the weapons used by Russian tsar M.F.Romanov during the war. Then this shield was at famous Russian commander F.I.Mstislavski and after he died in 1622, it was given at treasure of Russian tsar.  This shield with 50.8 cm of diameter was made of in full red steel and decorated with gold at khatamkarliq style. 
Two interesting work made in this period in Azerbaijan should be noted, too. Both of them are headgear used by aristocrats during the war. One of them is kept at Moscow Weapon palace and another one in Istanbul. 
It was noted on the top of headgear that it was manufactured for Shah Tahmasib in 1528.
 The first armored helmet is found among those lists of weapon brought by Boris Godunov from Shamakhy in Azerbaijan. Later this helmet was used as shield by F.Mstislavski.
Calligraphy samples are among the art of decoration of the helmet. They were placed at one width zone of the helmet. Words The in the name of Mighty and merciful God .
There were such places in Azerbaijan at those centuries, not just one or two streets, and even the majority of the population was engaged in the art of copper. One such centers was Lahij, included the khanate of Shamakhi.
Household goods and home appliances in Lahij of the century (jug, satyl, aftafa, sarnij, trays, sarpuz, etc.) were made. The goods produced in Lahij never were behind of those produced in central cities of that period both for the quantity and quality. At XVII century Sheki was also one of the places known for manufacturing of household items and adornments samples. One of he adornments of women of these centuries, used in Azerbaijan were necklaces. Among them: sinaband, bogazaltı, jajik, qarabatdaq and so on could be shown.
The close relationship between the traditions of our past samples, jewelry made of belts for men and women, especially confirms its obviously. It should be noted that, in general, the belt in the past was an integral part of women\'s and men\'s clothing. Studies have shown that in the past with belt the state, religious belief, nationality, or even age of person wearing it, could be known.  

At XVIII century, the belt was worn by both men and women. According to the tradition, women used to wear loose, wide women belts and men thin belts.
The belts in these works were decorated with figure and decorated bronze, silver or golden parts. The most beautiful part of it was belts. Belts usually consisted of quadrangle wide metal parts adorned with shebeke, pen work and gems. In most cases, the bottom line of the belt there were 23 lines of gold and silver coins and, bud-shaped ornaments, but in men, ranging from the lap portion of the belt a few points on the various pieces of metal particles were attached.
At the eighteenth century, household items, weapons and adornments made of metal, decorated mainly with the 6 technical ways. These are: forging, stamping, garasavad, shebeke (netting), and khatamkarliq and minachiliq.
In the beginning of the XIX-XX centuries mainly 3 types of metal art has evolved. These are the blacksmith, copper, and jewelry arts that in self those art areas played a unique role in the development of country\'s artistic metal creation.



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