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History of metal art in Azerbaijan

03 March 2020 [11:30] - TODAY.AZ

By Azernews


By Laman Ismayilova

Azerbaijan's rich natural resources have made possible the development of metal art.

The historical findings discovered as a result of excavations on the country's territory prove that as far back as 2,000 B.C ancestors of Azerbaijanis used objects made of various metals in their everyday lives.

After the discovery of copper in the Eneolithic period, the metal came to play a major role in economic, social, cultural life of the Azerbaijani people.

The discovery of lead, tin, manganese during this period was a completely new step in country's history, which marked the beginning of a bronze period.

Among the monuments, distinguished by their originality, one can mention the two-headed bronze deer found in the village of Dolanlar in Karabakh.

In ancient times, metal was used in the manufacture of  mainly religious handicrafts, so it is possible that the excavated deer was a totem for worshiping people living in these territories.

Kitchen utensils, daggers, axes, belts adornments and other material and cultural samples were also found during excavations.

Among the ancient monuments one of the bronze items, drawing attention from viewpoint of art and craftsmanship is belt. Bronze belts found in Karabakh, Gazakh, Gadabay, and other places captivate with the elegance and zoomorphological symbols and patterns.

The Middle Ages are one of the richest periods in the country's history of folk art. 

Of particular interest are household utensils, in particular, samples of dishes found during archaeological excavations in Mingachevir and exhibited at the Azerbaijan State Historical Museum. Ancient silver plate, decorated with delicate patterns and beautiful shapes has always been at the centre of public attention.

The convex lines make the plate particularly attractive. 

In the 11th-15th, centuries, the metal craft in Azerbaijan reached a high level of development. During this period, various types of weapons were made of metal. Different forms of household property, other samples of skillful handicraft, many of which have survived to our days. Ganja, Shamakha, Nakhchivan, and Tabriz remained centers for the manufacture of metal products. The conducted archaeological excavations show that in the 12th century and afterwards Baku was one of the leading centers in relation to the manufacture of iron products.

One of the samples of such high artisan art, made during this period, is the Shirvan washstand, cast in bronze in 1206 and now exhibited at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

At first glance, it is somewhat difficult to determine that this product is intended to draw water, because it is made in the form of a sculpture of small animals. The surface of the bronze washstand is streaked and decorated with silver. Among the drawings of the Shirvan washstand there are also inscriptions that are valuable historical sources.

In the 12th-17th centuries, the manufacture of metal household items, weapons and jewelry was widely developed in Tabriz, Ardabil, Maragha, Nakhchivan, Ganja, Shamakhi and Baku. During this period, weapons made by Azerbaijani masters daggers, helmets, kneecaps and other items were widely used abroad.

In the 18th century, copper craft was most developed in Azerbaijan. Foreign travelers who visited Tabriz, Ganja, Shaki, Shushu, Shamakhi, Baku in this century especially noted the presence of coppersmith streets and the manufacture of decorated and original dishes there from copper.

In the 18th century, the city of Shaki was known as one of the centers for the manufacture of metal household items and decorations. That time, braziers made in Shaki were particularly famous.

These braziers were small in size and decorated with geometric patterns, as well as figures of birds and animals.

In the 19th-early 20th centuries the craft of metal mainly developed in three types: iron, copper and jewelry. Iron craft was mainly used in agriculture for the manufacture of various equipment, as well as household products: bolts for doors, tables, etc.

Depending on the characteristics of everyday life and economic activity in Azerbaijan, there was a great need for copper cauldrons, pans, jugs and other copper products.

Earrings with the glaze of Baku and Shamakhi jewelers, necklaces made in Shebeke style, hair clips decorated with precious stones, and the mirror belts made by Shusha jewelers still fascinates with its unique beauty.

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