7th BSEC Month of Culture
1-30 November 2023
Customs and Traditions-Republic of Azerbaijan
In Azerbaijan, sericulture has been spread and developed for a long time. Rooted in traditions found along the Great Silk Road, the art of Kelaghayi is inscribed on UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity under the title ‘’Traditional art and symbolism of Kelaghayi, making and wearing women’s silk headscarves’’ (2014).
This tradition is mainly concentrated in two locations in the country; the city of Sheki and the Basgal village. A key factor regarding the quality and prevalence of Kelaghayi production in these regions is Sheki silk. The largest silk factory in the world operated in the 19th century in this city.
Kelaghayi making consists of several stages: fabric weaving, dyeing and woodblock decoration. Weavers choose thin silk threads from sericulture producers and weave fabrics on looms, then boil and dry them to make square-shaped cloths. Using vegetable substances, masters then dye the cloths various colours and decorate them with patterns using wooden stamps, covered with solutions made from rosin, paraffin and solid oil.
The colours of headscarves have symbolic meanings and are often tied to specific social occasions, such as weddings, mourning ceremonies, daily activities and celebrations. The art of Kelaghayi making is transmitted through non-formal apprenticeship only, and is primarily a family occupation. Each family has its own stylistic features and patterns of decoration.
- Travelers, such as the novelist and playwright Alexandre Dumas, have written about Kelaghayi in their travel notebooks.
- In 1870, Basgal Kelaghayi was awarded the silver medal at an exhibition in London.
- In 2022, sericulture and traditional production of silk for weaving was also included on UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
For more info, you can watch this video.
Sources & photographs taken from: https://ich.unesco.org/en/RL/traditional-art-and-symbolism-of-kelaghayi-making-and-wearing-womens-silk-headscarves-00669
Photographs No 1-3: © M.Rahimov/Ministry of Culture and Tourism, 2010
Courtesy of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Azerbaijan
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