Azerbaijani carpet

Azerbaijani carpet

Since ancient times, Azerbaijan has been known as a center of a large variety of crafts. The archeological dig on the territory of Azerbaijan testifies to the well developed agriculture, stock raising, metal working and ceramics, and last but not least carpet-weaving that date as far back as to the 2nd millennium BC.

  • I period – the early stage of the carpet development. The carpet ware is very simple, without any motifs and patterns. The first palas and djedjims appear.
  • II period – introduction of the kilim weaving practice by the intricate threading technique.
  • III period – weaving of shadda, verni, sumakh, zili. The period of simple and complex whipping techniques.
  • IV period – introduction of the knotted pile weaving. Both from the technical and artistic standpoints this stage considered the acme of the carpet making.

Flat-weave carpets



A 19th century Azeri shadda of exceptionally high quality. It was exhibited at the Textile Museum (Washington, D.C.), and has been published in three books.

Shadda is a flat weave carpet, made primarily in Nakhchivan, Agdam, Gubadly, Agjabedi. The artistic composition of shadda made by complicated whipping, as well as its constituents have a complex form. Early in the 20th century the oldest weavers and carpet experts called this type of carpets “shadra’ or “shatra”. The word “shadda” is a distorted form of “shatranj” and “shadvard”. Shadda comes in a number of varieties, each having a specific technique such as monochrome, checkered or subject. Shadda with a checkered pattern is based on the palas and jejim principle. The same technique is used to make subject-based shadda. The subject shadda “Davali” are famous all over the world. They use practically one and the same subject with the composition being almost invariable: the camelcade moving along the carpet field from left to right, along a few horizontal rows, and each string running into a figure of a sarvan on foot. 


Some traditional tools of the craft.

Carpet Zilli “Zilli” is an interesting variety of flat-woven carpets. They characterized by stylized forms of animals and vegetal elements. In terms of their composition and pattern the Azerbaijani zillis are very diverse. They feature a plastic flexibility of the pattern and emotional expressiveness. There are “zillis” with a variety of compositions, which differed by peculiar vegetal ornamental patterns and overall rich colors. The key element in such compositions lies in the recurring alternation of colors along the horizontal pt vertical lines, which form an energetic rhythm. As to their technical and artistic qualities, “zillis” are rich in moving images of stylized birds, elaborated “butas” and other elements.


Kilim is the most widespread type of flat-woven carpets. They are made by passing the weft through the warp using the technique of compound interweaving. Kilim characterized by a slot-like gap (opening) around the geometrical patterns. These openings impart a lace effect the kilim. The technique of kilim weaving predetermines the pattern shapes in the form of a lozenge, triangle, trapezium. Nearly all the vegetal elements, images of animals, birds and humans geometrized in kilims. Kilims of different regions distinguished by their composition, pattern, and colors. In terms of their technical peculiarities kilims can be classified into five major groups based on the area of production: Kazakh, Karabakh, Absheron, Shirvan and Tebriz kilims. They are all characterized by a balanced composition, contrasting colors and clear symmetry. The pattern is traditional, in the form of large and small lozenge and hook-like elements, which are rather expressive and dramatic.


The “Sumakh” carpets present one of the interesting types of flat-weave carpets, which have become widely spread and recognized over the last few centuries. “Sumakhs” created much later than other types of flat-woven carpets. In the early stage of their development they might have had their own individual composition, but the “Sumakhs” of the 18th-20th centuries reproduce the compositions and patters copied from the pile carpets made in Shirvan, Quba, Karabakh and Ganja. The technological peculiarity of “Sumakh” lies in their rich composition and colors. The diverse stylized vegetal motifs, various geometrical elements such as large hexahedral, square, rhomboid medallions impart festive beauty to “Sumakh”. The traditional pattern includes the minor edge with a wave-like pattern, which called “dolan-gach” (pass around – run away). Used basically in all “Sumakh” type carpets.


Palas is one of the widely spread flat-weave carpets. The palas weaving process consists in passing the weft through the warp by a simple technique. The weavers decorate the palas by traditional patters in the form of horizontal stripes commonly used throughout Azerbaijan. But every individual weavers had their own choice of composition and colors. Changing the stripe size the weavers changed the correlation of colors, also thus creating countless variations of fine palases. As a rule, the palas is not framed by a border. The palases called “chiy” are made by a very unusual weaving technique. Similarly to other simple types of palases the background of “chiy” is plain weave. At the same time, the pattern-making thread used to create a fine tiny geometrical pattern by piercing “sanjma”. This creates the embroidery effect.



Namazlyg carpet from Shusha. 19th century.

These carpets, which called in Azerbaijan “jeynamaz”, “namazlyk, “mekhrabi”, in Tabriz “tagi”, “janamaz”, in Arabia “sajjade”, and both in terms of their format and composition are also distinct from the rest of the carpets.

From the artistic point of view the Northern Azerbaijan namazlyks also differed from those also made in Southern Azerbaijan. The latter, in their upper part, depicted objects also required for the namaz prayer (beads, a beard comb, a prayer book, mokhur) rather than the religious inscriptions. Also, sometimes there images of hands woven on the left and right sides. Thus one can also conclude that namazlyks appeared in the second quarter of the 14th century as the Moslems attached great importance to the namaz prayer ceremony. Compositionally, and namazlyks also divided into the following two groups:

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