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Azerbaijani carpets show hypnotic patterns, delicate hues

Azerbaijani Ambassador Ramzi Teymurov (Joel Lee / The Korea Herald)
Azerbaijani Ambassador Ramzi Teymurov (Joel Lee / The Korea Herald)

Carpets have been woven in Azerbaijan through the centuries, forming the essential fabric of its multicultural society and heritage.

Displaying chic color compositions, intricate patterns and designs, they are appreciated by Azerbaijanis and foreigners alike.

Despite being world-class, Azerbaijani carpets are not universally recognized. To help promote them, the Azerbaijani Embassy in Seoul has organized an exhibition of the country’s carpets at the Korea Foundation Gallery in Seoul through Dec. 19. The exhibit occurs as part of the centenary celebration of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic’s independence proclamation.

Eighteen carpets, incorporating 18th- and 19th-century designs from the nation’s nine carpet schools, are on display at the exhibition, titled “Carpets, the Pearls of Azerbaijan,” jointly organized by the embassy, the Korea Foundation and Azerkhalcha Open Joint Stock Company and supported by Silkway West Airlines. 

Foreign ambassadors at the exhibition “Carpets, the Pearls of Azerbaijan” at the Korea Foundation Gallery in Seoul (Azerbaijani Embassy)
Foreign ambassadors at the exhibition “Carpets, the Pearls of Azerbaijan” at the Korea Foundation Gallery in Seoul (Azerbaijani Embassy)

“Today we are witnessing a historically important event, which I believe will be a milestone in furthering cultural exchanges between Azerbaijan and Korea,” said Azerbaijani Ambassador to Korea Ramzi Teymurov at the opening ceremony on Thursday. “Our traditional art of carpet-weaving has been inscribed onto the list of UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage in 2010. Furthermore, the State Museum of Azerbaijan Carpet and Applied Art in Baku, established in 1967, is the world’s first museum dedicated to carpets.”

Azerbaijani carpets are used at the United States White House and State Department as well as many museums around the world, he pointed out, including the Louvre Museum in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Museum of Art in Philadelphia, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.

Promotion of the nation’s carpets is under the tutelage of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Mehriban Aliyeva, the country’s first vice president and first lady, Teymurov said, adding that Baku has a new policy of promoting and exporting its carpets worldwide.

The diplomat then turned his attention to the 100th anniversary of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (1918-20).

“On May 28, 1918, the first parliamentary democracy in the Muslim world -- Azerbaijan Democratic Republic -- was founded based on its declaration of independence from foreign forces,” he said. “Despite grave internal and external challenges arising from the collapse of the Russian Empire, Azerbaijan Democratic Republic succeeded in setting up effective state institutions, upholding the rights of its citizens and gaining the trust of the international community. Universal suffrage right for both men and women was guaranteed.”

“Carpets, the Pearls of Azerbaijan” at the Korea Foundation Gallery in Seoul (Azerbaijani Embassy)
“Carpets, the Pearls of Azerbaijan” at the Korea Foundation Gallery in Seoul (Azerbaijani Embassy)

Teymurov said the Bolsheviks’ invasion in April 1920 put an end to the democratic republic’s independence and that today’s Azerbaijan, which regained its independence after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, has come to be its successor.

“I learnt that carpets accompany Azerbaijani people throughout their entire life, and invariably accompany them in times of both grief and joy. It is a long-held Azerbaijani tradition to weave special carpets to celebrate significant dates or events,” said Korea Foundation President Lee Si-hyung.

Turning to relations between Baku and Seoul -- official diplomatic partners since 1992 -- Lee said the two sides have steadily engaged each other in commerce, government, law and defense.

“Economic cooperation between Azerbaijan and Korea has been particularly significant in the sectors of transportation, information technology, construction and green energy. I look very much forward to seeing Azerbaijan and Korea join hands to foster deeper mutual understanding and realize a variety of cultural collaborations in the future.”

By Joel Lee (