The Azerbaijani sculptor, better known under the pseudonym CHINGIZ, also has brought to Kazan a documentary film about the philosophy of traditional carpet and its modern versions, as well as an unusual installation on the theme “Pure History”. How much the Azerbaijani carpet of two hundred years ago costs today, what a modern artist resists referring to the oldest art form, and what the Tatarstan minister of culture has to do with carpet weaving — read in the report of Realnoe Vremya.
Carpet as a source of inspiration
The Art of Carpet — Evolution of Meanings Exhibition was supposed to take place a year ago, the pandemic became an obstacle. But now that the carpets and their keepers from the world’s first museum of this profile have reached Kazan, they will remain here for a long time, until September 5.
According to the director of the Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum, Shirin Melikova, the carpet is a symbol of the entire Turkic world, and carpet weaving is the oldest craft in Azerbaijan, which is equated with art:
“All troubles are because of ignorance”
Indeed, Babayev’s modern works are also based on the technologies and traditions of past centuries. Not only the ornament, but also the dyes, for example, are used the same ones that were used by ancient masters. As a rule, these are herbal and mineral components, as well as cochineal — a bug from which red paint is obtained.
Each carpet has its own name for the artist. He is sometimes reproached that they are all quite militant, like another work created jointly with the carpet museum in 2017 — ‘Resistance’.
By the way, the artist failed to bring his famous “Sufi” carpet to Kazan this time — like a couple of his other new works, it is unfinished so far. The artist himself does not consider himself a Sufi, but the theme of Sufism is very close to him. “But I can’t just contemplate or love everything and everyone. Yes, I can’t love every person or, for example, an animal that is biting me at the moment.”
In the centre of the second hall, dedicated to the works of the contemporary artist, there is the installation “Pure History”. According to the organisers, this is the key to all Babayev’s works. A plain carpet of the color of natural wool, without any ornaments, is located on the wall, like the basis of the basics of tabula rasa (from the Latin “clean board”), as an appeal to eternity. Under it, there are many symbols of different eras that have “crumbled” over the past centuries…
An old price list and a gift of 100k euros
It is interesting that the master, creating sketches for new works of carpet art, did not try to weave carpets himself. “It’s a very long process, it’s like meditation,” says the artist. He once asked the craftswomen what they were more interested in weaving — an author’s carpet or some kind of work on the side, to which he received the following answer: “It doesn’t matter to us. We take a job and it’s like we’re starting to meditate.” An interesting fact was also cited by Shirin Melikova:
According to the director, the collection of the Baku Museum is constantly updated. Not only due to foreign auctions, but also with the help of expeditions to the hinterland. The carpets are brought to the museum by the Azerbaijanis themselves, they are given by patrons. So, for example, it turned out with the unique Karabakh carpet of the 18th century, the latest acquisition of the museum. Its cost exceeded 100,000 euros, the museum had been looking for a sponsor for a long time, but then a Baku philanthropist showed up, who presented this most valuable exhibit as a gift. On average, carpets, depending on their condition, the date of manufacture, the rarity of the ornament, cost from 10,000 euros and above, “to infinity”, as noted by Shirin Melikova.
Looking at the exhibits, you understand that their cost is justified: there is a history behind each of them. Carpets, like people, have their own names. For example, the Karabakh carpet of the beginning of the 20th century is called “Zili”. This is one of the types of Azerbaijani lint-free carpets, which is distinguished by a fine finish with an ornament in the form of stylised birds and animals combined with abstract geometric motifs. By the way, you can see different birds on almost all the carpets — they were totems, guardians of the genus for different tribes. Then the carpet itself was a talisman.
Or the carpet “Khan”, the name of which goes back to the word “khoan”. Among the peoples of the Middle East, this means “tablecloth”, and this is an integral sign of a cheerful feast, a joyful event with family and friends. Often on carpets, in addition to birds, you can find images of a dragon, which has always been considered the lord of water, and therefore a symbol of fertility and wealth. However, to guess who is now in front of you — an animal that has turned into a geometric figure, a winding plant, or even a running person, only an expert who will “read” a whole novel on the carpet that fits on a couple of square metres will help.
Master of carpet weaving for the future minister
The director of the museum emphasised that the appearance of the carpet exhibition in Kazan is not accidental:
From an unexpected side, the topic of the relationship between the republics was revealed by Minister of Culture of Tatarstan Irada Ayupova: