5 traditional Azerbaijan crafts you need to buy on your next trip

Once a key stop on the Silk Road, this Central Asian nation has been producing exquisite crafts made from silk, wool and copper for centuries...

3 mins

1. Carpets

The Carpet Museum in Baku (Shutterstock)

The Carpet Museum in Baku (Shutterstock)

Such is its importance, Azerbaijani carpet weav-ing is recognised by UNESCO for its intangiblecultural heritage. South of Guba, villages even boastunique motifs, with blue-and-white floral patternscommon in Pirebedil, while those in Gonagkenduse a central medallion design. Learn more atBaku’s Carpet Museum (azcarpetmuseum.az),which was built to resemble a rolled-up rug

Where to buy carpets

Watch artisans weaving carpets on a free English tour of Azer-Ilme in Baku. Note that permits, available from the Carpet Museum’s shop, are required when buying pieces larger than 2 sqm. In the capital you can also learn how carpets are weaved at Azerkhalcha.

2. Copperware

Copperware displayed in street (Shutterstock)

Copperware displayed in street (Shutterstock)

Since the 4th century BC, coppersmiths in the mountain village of Lahij have been smelting copper into plates, which are then polished and inscribed with flower designs. Their UNESCO-recognised craft can be seen in Lahij Museum of Local History or within the larger National Museum of History of Azerbaijan in Baku.

Where to buy copperware

Kebleyi Aliyev is the seventh generation in his family to produce copperware at their workshop, which opened in Lahij in 1725. Make copper with him at 41 Nizami Huseynov, or visit artisans Nazar Aliyev (at No 27) and Vahid Suley manov (No 51) and buy directly from them.

3. Silk Headscarves

Women making headscarf (Shutterstock)

Women making headscarf (Shutterstock)

Kelaghayi (silk headscarves) are seen every-where in Azerbaijan, but the artisans of mountain village Basgal are renowned for their scarves. Here, locals weave silk into squares, dye the fabric with vegetable juice then decorate it with woodblocks orbatik. Colours depend on the scarf’s purpose and patterns vary between families. Learn more about this UNESCO-listed craft at Basgal’s Silk Centre.

Where to buy Silk Headscarves

You’ll find kelaghayiin markets across Azerbaijan, particularly in Basgal and at Seki Ipek, a silk factory showroom in Sheki. Watch them being made or attend a workshop at Basgal’s Silk Centre.

4. Wool socks

Socks at a handicraft stall in Azerbaijan (Shutterstock)

Socks at a handicraft stall in Azerbaijan (Shutterstock)

The villages of the Gusar region are home to the Lezgis, an ethnic minority who live high among the Caucasus mountains. Traditionally, men work on the hills as shepherds while their wives knit colourful wool socks known as jorab, which are both cosy and are often included as part of a local bride’s dowry.

Where to buy wool socks

Enquire about knitting classes in shops selling jorab socks in Gusar. Buy them from local entrepreneur Isin Kulut or from Azerbaijani Socks in Baku, which pays local women a fair wage.

5. Papaq hats

Traditional Papaq hat (Alamy)

Traditional Papaq hat (Alamy)

Papaqs are round, flat-topped hats worn by men in mountainous regions. Once seen as a symbol of dignity, it was insulting to touch another man’s hat and shameful to lose one. Sheki is best known for this craft: artisans there still wash Qaragul lamb’s wool in salty water before stitching hats by hand.

Where to buy Papaq hats

Like his father and grandfather, Aqil Karimov makes papaq hats in his workshop, Papaqci, on Akhondzadeh Avenue in Sheki. He’s one of a handful of milliners left in Sheki andis keen to pass on his craft. Enquire about classes.

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