Published under the general editorship of Academican of the Academy of Sciences of the Azerbaijan Republic P.A.Azizbekova
In the course of the ages-long history the Azerbaijanian people have created remarkable works of material and spiritual culture.
Different artistic crafts and industries have been popular in Azerbaijan since ancient times. Among them is copper chasing used for the production of articles of diverse form and purpose.
The ethnographic fund of the Museum of History of Azerbaijan of the Academy of Sciences of the Azerbaijan SSR contains a valuable collection of different articles made of chased copper.
In Azerbaijan copper ware were produced with great mastership from local ores in its ancient and medieval cities, among them Baku, Nakhichevan, Lenkoran, Shemakha, Ganja, Shusha, Sheki and Kuba. The most famous Caucasian centre for the production of chased copper ware was Lagich located near the ancient cultural centre Shemakha widely known for the development of arts. It has been established that at late 19th and early 20th centuries Lagich had got up to 180 copper shops.
Copper items produced by Azerbaijanian masters were noted fot their variety of form, lavish ornamentation and unique design.
The numerous architectural finds in Azerbaijan territory testify to the ancient development of copper ornamentation and its successive character. Some of these ornaments have survived to our days, others have changed their form, incorporating new motifs and subjects.
The ornament is usually based on a rather complex composition which includes different themes and is executed in the form of straight and broken lines with a multitude of dots, triangles and rhombic figures. Apart from geometrical figures the ornaments incorporated floral subjects, depiction of birds and animals, and later the sun and people. The complicated ornamentation of chased metal objects brings out the indeep national traditions of Azerbaijanian art and the subtle artisic mastery of the craftsmen.
Most of the ornamented articles bear the master’s mark, the date of completion and sometimes the owner’s name. The diverse inscriptions including verses were usually engraved in Arabic. Ornaments were often intertwined with inscriptions executed in different types of Arabic alphabet which contributed to the beauty of the ornament.
Chased ornaments on copper are observed on architectural monuments, and among them 12th century tombs in Nakhichevan, 13- 14th century tombs in Barda, Karabaglyar, the 15th century Shirvanshahs’ Palace in Baku and the 18th century Palace of the Sheki Khans in Sheki.
By means of hot forging Azerbaijanian coppersmiths were able to achieve the most diverse forms of their articles: over 80
types of copper items are known.
Copper wares which were highly popular among the population fell into several groups: vessels, cauldrons (gazan) for cooking meals, tableware, different objects of every-day use and bathing attributes.
Before employing the copper items in the household they were plated with tin.
A comparative analysis of forms and ornamentations employed in working with copper and in other applied arts show the original and widespread character of the Azerbaijanian national ornament.
The collection of copper objects preserved in the Museum is a vivid testimonial of the Azerbaijanian people’s high artistic taste, rich inner world and unique talent.
Text by M. Dzhebrailova Photos by G. Guseinzade