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Interview with Asmer Abdullaeva, creative director and board member of Azerxalca

Sep 6, 2021

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Asmer Abdullaeva - art critic, Ph.D., associate professor, international expert in the field of creative industries, creative director and board member of OJSCAzerxalca about carpet weaving, industry and company development plans.

Carpet weaving is one of the oldest types of arts and crafts in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani carpet weaving, which has developed throughout all historical stages and has become an integral part of the national culture, is conditionally divided into Baku, Guba, Shirvan, Ganja, Gazakh, Karabakh and Tabriz schools, which differ from each other in the originality of compositional construction, originality of rich motives, harmony of colors and technological features.

The Azerbaijani carpet with its universal artistic masterpieces enjoys worldwide fame and glory even today. The art of the Azerbaijani carpet reflects the spiritual world, aesthetic sense, natural talent and philosophical worldview of the people of Azerbaijan, which has a long history. The data of archaeological research carried out on the territory of Azerbaijan, monuments of literature indicate that the art of carpet weaving in Azerbaijan originated in ancient times. Carpets and rugs made in Azerbaijan have been praised many times in many history books, classical literature and folklore.

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Asmer khanum shared detailed information during the conversation about the changes that take place in the production of carpets, about the necessary mechanisms for adapting traditional carpet weaving to the requirements of the modern market. She also touched upon the problem that the unique Azerbaijani carpet is being copied today by unscrupulous manufacturers, giving out a low-quality product, like a handmade carpet under the label of Azerbaijan.

"Azerxalca" as an organization and open joint stock company also has a long history and traditions as one of the largest carpet manufacturers. The Industrial Union "Azerkhalcha" was established by the Council of People's Commissars in 1925. Plants and artels, which already worked separately in the country, were part of the Azerxalca Union. The heyday of the organization fell on the times of Latif Kerimov in the 50s-70s of the 20th century, when carpet weaving in Azerbaijan received a completely different development and turned into a large research and production association.

Latif Kerimov created a large theoretical base of new techniques and subjects, which later formed the basis of educational material for students studying carpet making,” Abdullayeva says.

According to her, there are many talented carpet artists in Azerbaijan, as well as weavers who develop carpet art in the regions. Of course, in the 21st century, when technological progress has reached the level that carpets can be assembled with the help of a computer and woven with it, manual labor has partially depreciated, and somewhere it has completely disappeared. A lot of techniques were lost, people who knew the secrets of this craft passed away.

Therefore, the goal of the Azərxalça organization is, first of all, to preserve the traditions of carpet weaving in our country and to create a national brand that is competitive in the international market - a manufacturer of a unique product, the value of which will only grow over time.

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 “Also, the President signed a decree on the strategy for the development of carpet weaving in Azerbaijan. This has become a great support for the residents of the regions for which new jobs have been created. But the most important goal today is to ensure that the Azerbaijani carpet entered the world market and took its rightful place in it.

What is the peculiarity of the Azerbaijani carpet?

We have 7 regional schools, as well as technical compositional features, which are the priority aspects of our organization for entering the world market.

 “Our strength lies precisely in the uniqueness and variety of compositions, in the complexity of geometric and floral ornaments and, of course, in the fact that we preserve the ancient traditions of carpet weaving. Of course, we resort to new technologies - now the carpet pattern is no longer assembled by hand on graph paper, but with the help of computer programs, but at the same time, the weaving technique has remained the same that our women have used for millennia. We try not to speed up the process by losing traditions, ” Abdullayeva says.

The creative director of Azərxalça notes that one of the main strategies of the organization today is to create a brand with its own vision, as well as collections that could be promoted and presented to the public:

“We have already divided our carpets into categories (lines) - this is a traditional Azerbaijani carpet, an experimental carpet, non-standard in color, composition and perception, as well as plans to revive without pile carpets, which will be part of the brand. The second line turned out to be quite interesting - we tried to invite famous artists working in various areas of visual art for cooperation.

Also in the old city, in the very heart of Baku, the Azerxalca Exhibition Salon was opened, which presents a wide selection of carpets, various groups and compositions, as well as our new collection of experimental carpets. Anyone can visit our salon to plunge into the world of the carpet, take a photo, learn a lot of interesting things about the carpet from our consultants, and also buy a souvenir in the form of a carpet.

Today Azərxalça is implementing several projects in parallel. Much attention is paid to social projects, in particular, to support women living in remote regions. According to the creative director, the organization has provided jobs for about 1,300 women, for whom all conditions have been created so that they have the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families, as well as socially adapt in society.

“In addition, we plan to create an international carpet education center, as well as form new quality standards and conformity of the carpet to the world rating. We pay great attention to PR and marketing, work in social networks, we plan to participate in international exhibitions and festivals. That is, we have big goals and great responsibility, as a state company, for which the government has created all the conditions for the development of the Azerbaijani carpet and increasing its competitiveness in the world market, ” Abdullayeva summed up.

Interviewed by Leila Mammadova