Azerbaijan does not have many tourist attractions, but what it does have is plenty of quaint little mountain villages. Older villagers speak a dialect that is nearer to Farsi than Azerbaijani. And claim that Lahic named for the Caspian town of Lahijun from which their ancestors supposedly emigrated a millennium ago, bringing with them their famous coppersmithing skills. In its 19th-century heyday, Lahic boasted around 200 craftsmen, and Lahic carpets and metalwork fetched high prices in the bazaars of Baghdad. The population was around 15,000 until WWII, when the privations of war led many to starve or flee across the mountains: the road not built until the 1960s. During 2008-2009 the planned introduction of piped water in Lahic caused a great improvement in people’s lives. However, it means the end to the photogenic sight of women filling their guyum (traditional copper water vessels) at the village’s many springs. The village is, at best, around 2,000 people.
They speak there own language, although Azerbaijani and Russian can still heard (with the occasional foreign language). The one thing you’re unlikely to hear is the wind and grind of city life. Instead it’s the gentle tapping sound that spills from workshops along its roughly cobbled streets that fills the ears.
Here in Lahic, centuries of isolation have honed the skills of the copper smiths which line the narrow streets. The soaring peaks that surround this village make farming nearly impossible, so local people turned very long ago to crafts. Copper smithing is only the most famous. Almost everyone who lives here can turn shapeless things into objects of quiet and even mystic beauty. Carpet weaving, wood carving and a variety of other such handy crafts await the weary traveller. Lahic is particularly famous for its coppersmiths, whose workshops overflow into narrow, stone-paved Huseynov kuc. On the upper floors of the workshops you can sometimes still find carpet makers at work. As years go by the workshops are increasingly transforming themselves into tourist boutiques but they remain rustic, welcoming places, where craftsmen happy watched and photographed engraving intricate patterns. High global copper prices and growing tourist savvy mean that copperware is not as inexpensive as it used to be, but there are still some relative bargains to be had if you shop around.
Resident of Lahic
The residents of Lahic are divided into three categories, based on their craftsmanship: Baadvan, Azavarro and Araghird. Each of these categories has its own village square, mosque, hammam and graveyard. One of the most striking features of the urban look of Lahic, is the village square of each category, which, today, still has its specific role in the public life of the village. Earthquakes frequently occur in the region, and, as a result, a specific style of building construction has developed – which include certain styles and techniques in crosscutting stone and installation of wood.
Ancient houses plan
The ancient dwelling houses in Lahic have remained unchanged, as, during the past centuries. There have not been any significant changes in the urban planning. The ground floors of houses built in the main trading street used as workshops and trade rooms. The traditional interiors of these Lahic houses include decorative tableware and other items, placed in different sized holes in the walls (known in Azerbaijan as takhcha, chamakhatan) and on wall shelves.
One of the joys of Lahic is hiking up the steep wooded hillsides towards the bare mountaintop sheep meadows (yaylag) where flocks graze in summer and views towards the snow-topped high Caucasus can be magnificent on a clear day. Of the region’s (very) ruined fortresses, the most accessible is Niyal Qalasi, about 1,5 hours sweaty climb up the Kishchay valley. With a horse and guide you could make a two-day excursion to more impressive Fit Dag castle. The tourist office can offer many more suggestions.
Research by: Ulduz Tourism