Pursuing worldwide recognition, Azerbaijan attributes Armenian carpets as “national property of Azerbaijani people”, neglecting historical evidence.
In History Museum of Armenia, carpets and carpet products occupy several halls. However, only the small fraction of what the museum actually has in their possession is showcased before the public. 15th-20th-century carpets from various historical-ethnographic regions allow the visitors of the museum to get a general idea of Armenian carpet art.
The good condition of carpet items demonstrates that they are taken special care of in the museum. “Professional effort of ethnographers and the restoration department allows to maintain the safety of carpet items, textiles, and other valuables in the museum,” said a scientific employee of museum’s department of ethnography Liliya Avanesyan, who has been studying the etymology and semantics of the design of Armenian carpets for over 20 years. During a brief tour, she familiarized us with the history of Armenian carpet weaving, touching upon large-scale falsifications and appropriations of Armenian heritage by Azerbaijan.
Armenian carpet art dates back to distant antiquity. During the excavations of Bronze Age sites (Artik, Naver, Lori, Berd), experts found fragments and trails of woolen fabrics, meaning that the production of woolen products in Armenia emerged in the Bronze Age at least.
Armenian carpet weavers were particularly famous for their luxury items. We can estimate the quality and value of medieval Armenian carpets through the Medieval accounts of Arabic historians and geographers such as Ahmad ibn Rustah, Ya’qubi, and Ibn Hawqal, who repeatedly mentioned costly Armenian carpets and fabrics. Armenian carpet products have been exported to a wide range of western and eastern countries via ancient trade routes.
Fakhri Dalsar’s monography “Turk sanayi ve Ticaret Tarihinde Bursa’da Ipekсilik” published in Istanbul in 1960 specifies that Armenians had been playing a significant role in the production of silk fabrics in Anatolia in the 14th-18th centuries. Dalsar mentioned Armenian weaving factories producing expensive fabrics, including silk carpets.
Today, Armenian carpets are presented as if they had been created by Turkic peoples of Asia Minor and Transcaucasia. The legend of Azerbaijani carpet weaving in Iran is merely one of those falsifications. Turkic Azerbaijanis shamelessly attribute famous Persian carpets to their own cultural heritage.
For instance, leading Azerbaijani carpet designer Latif Karimov credits a local, allegedly indigenous ethnic group (namely, Oghuz Turks) with the creation of Armenian carpets and textile products. However, renowned carpet specialist of Transcaucasia M. Isayev wrote in 1932: “…until recently, developed forms of carpet design were mastered by Armenians and Lezgins. Now, one wouldn’t be able to find valuable carpet products of Karabakh Armenians anywhere, other than American and European museums.”
According to L. Avanesyan, in literary circles, Armenian carpets are presented under Turkic names such as “Khatayi” and “Borcaly”. Expansive descriptions of Armenian carpets in Baku museums allow us to conclude that we deal with deliberate falsification. The brochure “Azerbaijani carpet” of Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan features the so-called Azerbaijani carpets. At the same time, Armenian city Ijevan is mentioned as a center of Azerbaijani carpet art and as an Azerbaijani village in the territory of Armenia.
Famous carpets of Mekhitarists of Vienna used as veils of altar doors clearly prove that Getabek, Banants, Gandzak, and other territories were important centers of Armenian arts. And today, Azerbaijan claims that Armenian carpets belong to them.
Does this really surprise anyone, given that being a goodwill ambassador of UNESCO, Mehriban Aliyeva registered the products of Armenian craftsmen as Azerbaijani carpets in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List?
A plethora of artifacts discovered in the territory of historical Armenia testifies to the advancement of Armenian carpet art. Preserved examples of Armenian carpets also bear deep cultural traces of Christianity, which, as we know, doesn’t have anything to with Azerbaijanis. Carpets have been an inseparable part of Armenian lifestyle. Decorating homes with carpets and costly fabrics has long been a tradition among Armenian families.
Fragmented translation of article by Marta Hakhnazaryan
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