The wonderful nature, climate, natural resources of the country produced a significant impact on the artistic thinking and creation skills of Azerbaijani people as well. In spite of the long and difficult way undergone by different types of arts in Azerbaijan, they still represent unity and provide outstanding opportunities for the creation of a full idea of the fine arts of Azerbaijan. The folk arts of Azerbaijan are multi-colored, complete, and rich, as its natural resources. Folk art is connected with the daily life of people and daily life occupies a very special life in the fine arts as well. Folk arks cover a long period from ancient times to nowadays and including a variety of products from garments to housing goods and decoration. Quite obviously, the style of life, aesthetic tastes, the national image, and qualities, are strongly reflected in folk arts. One can easily come across numerous wonderful models of Azerbaijani folk arts in the world’s largest museums. The pieces of arts created by the skillful hands of Tabriz, Nakhichevan, Ganja, Gazakh, Guba, Naku, Shaki, Shamakhi, and Nagorny Garabagh can be found in large museum collections of Victoria and Albert of London, Louvers of Paris, Metropolitan of Washington, and Vienna, Rome, Berlin, Istanbul, Tehran, Cairo museums.
The history of folk arts in Azerbaijan has a long and interesting history. Works of art made from metal extracted from Nakhichevan, Migachevir, Gadanay, Ganja, and other places are approximately 5000 years old. Crockery, weapons, and adornments found here are not historical facts alone, but valuable sources which testify to the skills of the master.
Material and cultural models, found during archaeological excavations in the territory of Azerbaijan, testify that our ancestors made crockery, daggers, axes, belts, and adornments of bronze and used their daily life. This proves the ancient age of such types of activity as a copper-smithy and gold smithy.
There are those with portrayals, showing traditions, religious ideas, and even garments of people of that epoch among art patterns made from metal.
History, of ethnographical and artistic features of folk art, is reflected on the garments. These features are reflected both on garments of a certain form and its adornments and fine needlework, knitting.
Bronze needles and awls from the beginning of the bronze epoch (III millennium B.C ) were found during archaeological excavations in Azerbaijan as well. These findings prove that the ancient population of Azerbaijan could sue clothes for themselves. Little clay statues founded from Kultapa and Mingachevir (III millennium B.C) and seals of the V century B.C found in Mingachevir provided opportunities to have a certain idea of garments of that time. Clothing remnants sued from different silk materials are found in Mingachevir catacombs of V-VI centuries B.C. A number of adornments ( III-IV century B.C), made of gold, and clay crock of foot-gear form are well-grounded evidence, proving the old high material culture of Azerbaijanis.
Different pictures scraped on housing implements made from copper, bronze, gold, and adornments, prove the existence of fine art in Azerbaijan since ancient times.
Horse-cloth with flowers on clay figure of horse (II millennium B.C.), found in Maku in South Azerbaijan, golden basin with a picture of the line (I millennium B.C), found in Hasanli hill near the Urmiya lake, and other findings show the ancient history of carpet-making, one of the branches of folk art in Azerbaijan.
Remains of palaz (a kind of carpet without pile) and a carpet of I and III centuries were discovered during an archaeological dig in Mingachevir.
According to an archaeological dig and written sources Azerbaijan people have been occupying with carpet-making since the bronze epoch (late II millennium – early I millennium). Herodotus, Klavdi Elian, Ksenofont and other world historians wrote about carpet-making development in Azerbaijan.
Carpets, weaved by separate carpet-making schools of Azerbaijan (Guba, Baku, Shirvan, Ganja, Gazakh, Nagorny Karabakh, Tabriz) in different periods, amaze people till nowadays. Most of them are kept in well-known museums of the world.
Gobustan rock pictures, pictures, belonged to the early bronze epoch (III millennium B.C) in Aychingilli and Parichingil mountains near the Zalkha lake in the Kalbajar region, rock pictures in the Gamigaya mountains in the north of Ordubad town have exception importance among the eldest patterns of fine art. Pictures about ancient people’s mode of life, welfare, labor, carved in the Gobustan rockeries, represent special interest. Different subjects, scenes on hunting, cattle breeding, planting, and other branches of household, human and animal pictures were carved in a dynamic way. The Gobustan rock pictures — pictograms cover multi-centuries old history from primitive communal order to feudalism.
Azerbaijan was rich in architectural pieces one of the branches of folk art along with works of fine art since ancient times. Maiden tower and Shirvanshahs palace in Baku, Momina Xatun and Yusif ibn Kuseyr mausoleums, created by architect Acami in Nakhichevan, Natavan’s home, pictures on walls of Shaki khan palace and other patterns are rare pearls of architecture.
Picture of people, dancing Yalli, represents special interest among the Gobustan rock pictures. This picture testifies Azerbaijan people’s interest in music since ancient times.
The motherland of Azerbaijan people possessed rich musical and cultural heritage is famous as Land of flames.
Azerbaijan music, enriching world musical culture with its rare pearls, has multi-centuries old traditions. Creators of folk music, handed over these traditions to generations, have a great role in the development of Azerbaijan music.
Folk songs, dances, ashug creations (folk poets and singers) have a specific place in Azerbaijan national music.
Mugams are the foundation of Azerbaijan national music. It is not accidental that UNESCO, a specialized organization of UN, entered Azerbaijan mugam into the list of world cultural heritage.
Our national music has been developing along with literature since ancient times. For instance, mugam developed along with Eastern poesy. Thus, singers, performed mugam, recited ghazals (a kind of poem) by Azerbaijan well-known poets as Nizami, Khagani, Fuzuli, Nasimi. Poetic forms of national poesy like Garayli, divani, tajnis along with goshma, mukhammas, ustadnama, gafilband are ashugs’ favor forms.
Works of art, created by classics and contemporaries, take an honorable place in world cultural treasure. Works by M.F.Akhundov, N.Vazirov, M.S.Ordubadi, G.Zakir, M.A.Sabir, J.Mammadguluzade, M.P.Vagif, M.V.Vidadi, and other poets and writers hasn’t lost their aesthetic importance.
One of the art kinds, related to Azerbaijan literature, is theatre. The roots of Azerbaijan theatre art are related to people’s activity, mode of life, solemn and wedding traditions, range of vision. Elements of spectacle in rites, ceremonies, and games took important role in popular theatre. It was realistic and related to working categories. The repertoire of popular theatre consisted of short spectacles of ethical content. Popular theatre played an important part in the establishment of Azerbaijan’s professional theatre.
Roots of theatre art, dated to old times, started with spectacles “Vizier of Lankaran khanate” and “Hadji Gara” by M.F.Akhundov, staged in Baku in March and April 1973.
The repertoire of Azerbaijan theatre passed a difficult way of development, has been enriched now. Different spectacles, amazing spectators, are staged in Academic National Dramatic Theatre, Municipal Theatre, Pantomime Theatre, Theatre of Young Spectators and etc.
Cinematography, one of the most interesting and popular art kind of our time, penetrate into people’s lives and become an integral part of it. National cinematography opens the bottoms of the human heart and new live horizons. It gained great experience year by year and created a number of different works, reflecting our people’s lives and problems. These films were kept for future generations and became people’s spiritual knowledge.
Azerbaijan’s fine art is as old and rich as the history of our people. Research of theatre, cinema, music, and folk art, passed a long and difficult way of development, proves the high cultural heritage of Azerbaijan people. Culture and fine art workers of Azerbaijan always make efforts to spread our culture to the world and have achieved it partly. Entering of Azerbaijan mugam into world cultural heritage by UNESCO, rewarding of well-known film master R.Ibrahimbayov, screenwriter and producer by “Oscar” and keeping of manual works and carpets, made by popular masters in famous museums of the world are obvious proves.
Azerbaijan is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List of two intangible cultural heritage sites — Icheri Sheher and rock art of Gobustan, where the Palace of the Shirvanshahs and the Maiden Tower is located.
At the same time, the list of intangible cultural heritage includes 11 elements:
1. Azerbaijan mugam (2008)
2. Azerbaijan ashug art (2009).
3. Novruz holiday (2009)
4. Traditional art of Azerbaijani carpet weaving (2010)
5. The art of playing the tara in Azerbaijan (2012).
6. Shooting at Chovgan with a Karabakh horse (2013).
7. The traditional art of making and wearing a woman’s headscarf and its symbolism (2014)
8. The art of blacksmithing Lahij (2015)
9. Lavash (2016).
10. Kamancha (2017)
11. The tradition of making and sharing dolma (2017).
The Memory of the World list includes an item. Medieval manuscripts about nature and pharmacy are kept in the Institute of Manuscripts of ANAS named after Mohammed Fizuli in Baku. The collection contains about 12,000 valuable manuscripts.
We believe that the cultural heritage of Azerbaijan will continue to be recognized by the world because our wealth is full of inexhaustible wealth!