The Karabakh carpets are made up of 33 compositions. These carpets distinguish themselves with their vivid and joyous colors. They are divided into four groups: without medallions, with medallions, namazlik and subject carpet.
The Karabakh carpet school on the south-western Azerbaijan developed in two regions – in upland and lowland areas. The town of Shusha and the villages of Dashbulaq, Dovshanli, Girov, Trniviz, Janakhcha, Tug, Tuglar, Hadrut, Muradkhanli, Qasimusagi, Qubadli, Qozag, Mirseyid, Bagirbayli, Khanliq, and Dag Tumas played a leading role in the carpet weaving in the 19th century. As against the mountainous region, no doubt the carpet weaving had a special place in the better-equipped lowland areas of Jabrayil, Agdam, Barda and Fuzuli. Each of these centers had a lot of villages engaged in the carpet weaving for commercial purposes. For their graphical structure, technological peculiarities and colours, Zangazur and Nakhchivan carpet weaving centers are also part of the Karabakh carpet school.
Aran, Bagchadagullar, Baliq, Buynuz, Barda, Bahmanli, Karabakh, Qoja, Qasimusagi, Lambarani, Mugan, Talish, Lampa, Malibeyli, Khanqarvand, Khanliq, Khantirma, Jalabi, Sabalidbuta, and other pattern carpet compositions are classic samples of the Karabakh School of the carpet making.
The subject-based carpet making in the Karabakh School developed uniquely. This carper making art being freed from Western European colorful description restored ancient art principles of organization of decorative applied art, having deep root in the centuries and fixed in the psychology of the people. Deliberate refusal of description of motifs in narrative way in multi-composed compositions, increasing of symbols and graphic interpretation of life events, all of these are most characteristic features in Azerbaijani, particularly in Karabagh carpets.
Buynuz carpets are characteristic of Karabakh. They are made at various carpet workshops of the Upper (Mountainous) Karabakh. Veteran Karabakh carpet weavers still refer to the Buynuz carpet by its old name, i.e. Horadiz.
This carpet is considered to be one of the most common carpets of the Karabakh School. Well-known as Baliq in the north of the country, it is called Mokhi in the Iranian Azerbaijan. Although the Baliq carpet is made at all carpet weaving shops across Karabakh, it’s primarily made in Barda. The leaves bent towards the end of the spiral (sometimes folded lengthwise) resembled the image of a fish; hence the conventional name of the composition is Baliq.
The carpets known under the name of Karabakh were and are still made at all carpet-weaving workshops across Azerbaijan. Depending on the location, the carpets were given different names but the art experts referred to all of them as Karabakh. This composition of the carpets, woven in Susa in 19th century for sale at Istanbul bazaars was given various names of Khan or Khan Karabakh.
Khanliq is the most famous carpet making centre of Azerbaijan. The carpets woven here still represent an example of the finest piece of art and are marked by top quality. The carpets made in the 19th century in Jabrayil, specifically in the villages of Mirzajanli, Afandilar, Dashkasan, Suleymanli, were thought to be the most beautiful among those carpets exported to the world markets and fairs.
The name of this Qasimusagi carpet is associated with the residents of the villages of Samkand, Arikli, Qurtasli, Jorman and Sevna north of Lachin. Qasim was a respected man of his times there. These villages used to weave top quality carpets up to recent times.
The name of this carpet is associated with the village of Boyuk Bahmanli in the present-day Fizuli District. The composition of the central field is formed by the figures of a peculiar shape, lined up in a row. Of special interest are the compositions with one or two figures in the central field. Veteran carpet weavers assume that these figures represent a statue, a brazier or the paw or a foot, others believe that this is an image of a turtle.
Geographically, this carpet is classed under the Shirvan group. Technically, it should be regarded as a Karabakh type of carpet. The décor of these carpets is mainly composed of the hook-like elements called Kohna nakhish (old pattern) by carpet weavers.
These carpets are largely made at carpet weaving centers of Nakhchivan and are located in the villages of Norashen, Sahbuz, and Kolani as well as at the carpet making points of Julfa and Ordubad. The carpets made in Nakhchivan varied for their ornamental pattern, however, all of them are called Nakhchivan.
The carpet was first made in the village of Chalabilar. The composition and the patterns of the Chalabi carpets were established and further perfected in this village. Later they spread on to the Mountainous Karabakh, Aran (lowland) and beginning with the 19th century, they were made in Kazakh district carpet making as well.
From the ancient times, Azerbaijani land Karabakh’s iron-rich ore deposits were instrumental in the emergence of blacksmithing.
Bloomeries furnished with bellows based on primitive production techniques were chiefly in place in Karabakh.
Although it was economically inefficient, high-grade iron was produced through smelting and forging. Consequently, products made from locally smelted iron were very strong and stable.
In the 2nd half of the 19th century, purchased iron in Karabakh was mainly from Baku capitalists.
In the past, the shortage of steel was more observed in Karabakh. In particular, pure steel was saved more as it was obtained with difficulty. When cold weapons (daggers, poniard, sword) making was in vogue, the shortage of steel was striking.
Gunsmiths gave preference for a long time to steel from Damascus and Khorasan. At the same time, gunsmiths from Karabakh also used to produce pure steel by special methods.
Forges across Karabakh were mainly using mixture of iron and steel. They first heated iron and steel of different properties and soldered them together.
Like workshops of other crafts, blacksmiths’ were chiefly concentrated in the marketplaces or in caravansaries in Karabakh. As a rule, the blacksmiths functioned both as workshops and shops.
A considerable number of home things, in particular, cutting instruments (axes, hooks, choppers, scythes, shears, adzes, mincer, knives, pots and so on) were made of iron. For this purpose, welding method was mainly used. First, iron mixed with steel was cast to make cutting tools. Different from pure steel and iron for properties, the mixture of steel-iron was often called “welded iron”.
The most primitive and ancient way of producing iron alloy with steel in Karabagh was pure welding. While producing this, no supplementary means was used to harden the alloy and solder the joins.
As obvious, the Karabakh-based blacksmiths, relying on their centuries-old useful experience, managed to learn properties of metals through profound observation and succeeded in improving production technologies and thus making more perfect tools of labour.
Although welding occupied a key place in the Karabakhi blacksmithing, the making of iron tools, particularly, of cutting tools was connected with a myriad of technological processes.
Depending on the kind of commodity made, in the production process were used – dibchıxarma, kupachma, sulghuc-chıxarma, dishama, novsalma and other technological processes. Most of these operations were of specific nature and applied in the making of a certain group of tools.
In the past, blacksmiths from Karabakh both made new goods and repaired broken, damaged or blunt tools. The vocation of repairs had also shaped peculiar ways of production. Usually, goods of thick form (axes and so on) were repaired by hardening. Another way of repairing broken tools in the Karabakh school of blacksmithing was riveting. Riveting was mainly applied in the repairs of household tools.
Amongst the developed centers of manufacturing iron products, the village of Khojavand of Jabrayil province and the Agdam community of Shusha province distinguished themselves. As a whole, specialization on producing small commodities at town smithies across Azerbaijan started earlier. Thus for the number of smithies, Shusha occupied one of the leading places among the towns in Azerbaijan.
Pottery was one of the ancient branches of the craftsmanship in Karabakh and has preserved its significance up to today. Specialists refer to the emergence of the craft in the Neolithic Age. Beginning from the end of early medieval century, the making of pottery further developed and reached new high levels.
The archaeological excavations in Karabakh indicate that in IX-XIII centuries pottery shaped as a highly-developed branch of the craft. Earthenware objects made during that period reached a very high level both for production techniques and rich decoration elements as compared with previous and later times.
In late medieval period, the production of crockery specialized on three major groups: unglazed tableware, glazed crockery and construction materials. The unglazed crockery includes a variety of earthenware pitchers, pots, jars, jugs, aftafas (jugs with a long spout used for ablutions), milk pitchers, lamps, tobacco pipes and so on. Lineal and dotted patterns were widely used in artistic arrangement of those earthenware objects.
In the late medieval period, glazed crockery was also widely used across Karabakh. Among those types of earthenware were jugs, vases, flower vases, lamps, bowls, etc. Karabakhi potters could tastefully decorate glazed earthenware with enamels obtained from manganese, copper and cobalt. In general, glazed earthenware was baked in two phases: first, crockery was baked as usual in a furnace and put back again to the furnace after being glazed.
In the XVI-XVII centuries over high development of the construction ceramics in Azerbaijan, glazed materials and ceramics mosaic were widely used in different towns of Azerbaijan, including in Karabakh in the construction of palaces, karvansarays, and bathhouses.
Over the period of the existence of the Karabakh khanate in the second half of the XVIII – early XIX centuries, household ceramic production was more developed as a leading branch of the pottery. Based on information from available written records, we can conclude that first of all, the making of jars and pitchers took significant place among the glazed vessels used in everyday live under the khanate.
Karabakhi potters made a variety of wares used widely in everyday life. Ethnographic researches show that pottery was divided into several groups for their intended purposes. Among them took significant place kitchen utensils, vessels for water and milk and crocks to heat and lit houses. A variety of vessels used in everyday live: (jars, cruse, pitchers, mugs, crocks) for water, (earthenware pots, carafes, jugs, cans, mugs, tankards) for saving water and (aftafa – jug with a long spout used for ablutions, spouts) was manufactured in Karabakh.