The Great Silk Road
Azerbaijan is situated along one of the main routes of the Silk Road, at the crossroads of civilisations, cultures, and religions. Sitting between Europe and Asia, the Silk Road played an enormous role in the establishment and development of the Azerbaijani carpet.
The Azerbaijani carpet can be interpreted as a complex, multi-layered product of intra- and intercultural interactions that developed over many centuries between the lands and cultures situated along the Silk Road.
The goods and products of Azerbaijani towns and settlements spread along the Silk Road with great success, and its towns were long known as centres of culture, science and education. Oil, carpets, raw silk, silk fabrics, cotton, weapons, dried fruits, salt, precious stones, jewellery, alum, saffron, natural dyes, polychrome pottery, wooden utensils, non-ferrous metals, sturgeon and caviar, and ironwood were the main exports of Azerbaijan.
Weaving together these disparate strands of raw materials and classical motifs, Azerbaijan carpets now serve as beautiful emblem of multiculturalism. In 2007, the President of Azerbaijan, in signing a presidential decree that declared carpet weaving a cultural asset and a great national interest for Azerbaijan, noted:
‘I think that by common efforts we need to promote the values of multiculturalism. I know that there are different ideas about that - sometimes, pessimistic ideas. But there are positive examples of multiculturalism. Azerbaijan is one of them’.
This recognition was shared by UNESCO, which added ‘Traditional art of Azerbaijani carpet weaving in the Republic of Azerbaijan’ to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010.
Through centuries of development, the Azerbaijani Carpet has incorporated the social, cultural, and artistic values of various periods in the history of Azerbaijan, providing the Azerbaijani people with a tangible symbol of their cultural and historical continuity.