A magnificent architectural marvel stands in the heart of Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, housing the country’s rich legacy in the world of carpets. The Azerbaijan Carpet Museum, housed within a colossal structure shaped like a rolled carpet, draws crowds with its unparalleled collection of over 15,000 exhibits spanning centuries of history.
From carpets dating back to the 17th century to a surprising display of Indian textiles tracing back 5,000 years, this museum has become a sought-after destination for tourists and enthusiasts alike. Designated by UNESCO as a “Masterpiece of Intangible Heritage” in 2010, the Azerbaijani carpets are a testament to the nation’s intricate craftsmanship.
Director Shirin Malikova proudly emphasizes the museum’s significance, stating, “No village in Azerbaijan exists without weaving carpets. Our museum holds the world’s largest collection of Azerbaijan carpets, narrating the nation’s history through vibrant patterns and colors echoing our literature and folklore.”
Originally established in 1967 within Baku’s Old City district, the museum found its new home in a stunning building reminiscent of a rolled carpet designed by Austrian architect Franz Janz. Renamed the Azerbaijan Carpet Museum, this iconic structure serves as a symbolic tribute to the country’s cultural heritage.
Malikova highlights the museum’s evolution, stating, “Acquiring exhibits spanning pile carpets, flat-woven carpets, textiles, embroideries, metalwork, and jewelry, the museum has transformed over the years. The exhibitions, spread across three floors, offer a journey through Azerbaijan’s carpet weaving history.”
The museum’s immersive layout guides visitors through the evolution of carpet weaving, showcasing traditional techniques, Azerbaijani weaving schools, and contemporary designs. Notable figures like Latif Karimov, a celebrated carpet designer, are celebrated for their contributions to this art form.
Beyond showcasing exquisite collections, the museum serves as a hub for preserving traditional weaving techniques, employing artists and weavers to revive forgotten methods. Rena Suleymanova, one of the weavers, reflects on her lifelong dedication to this craft, stating, “Tourists are particularly drawn to smaller, portable carpets, and witnessing these pieces find homes outside our museum is immensely rewarding.”
The Azerbaijan Carpet Museum not only preserves a rich tapestry of history but also serves as a living testament to the nation’s enduring cultural legacy, weaving together millennia of craftsmanship and artistry for the world to admire.