Culture, lifestyle and traditions
One of the world's most ancient peoples - the Azerbaijani people - has the right to feel proud for its history, material and cultural monuments, literature, arts and music heritage of Azerbaijan, located at the crosssroads of the East and the West, is an example of the country where multiculturalism and tolerance have been established. Wonderful nature, climate, natural resources of the country have had a significant impact on artistic thinking and creative skills of Azerbaijani people, as well. In spite of a long and difficult way undergone by different types of arts in Azerbaijan, they still represent a unity and provide outstanding opportunities for the creation of a full idea of fine arts and culture of Azerbaijan. The folk arts of Azerbaijan are multi-colored, complete and rich, as its natural resources. The folk arts connected with the lifestyle and household, as well as daily life of people occupy a very special place in the rich creativity of Azerbaijani people. Folk arts cover a long period from ancient times to nowadays and includes a variety of products from garments to housing goods and decorations.
Quite obviously, the peculiarities of lifestyle, aesthetic tastes, the national image and qualities are strongly reflected in folk arts. One can easily come across numerous wonderful examples of Azerbaijani folk arts in the world's largest museums. The pieces of arts created by the skillful hands of masters from Tabriz, Nakhchivan, Ganja, Gazakh, Guba, Baku, Shaki, Shamakhi and Karabakh can be found in rich collections of Victoria and Albert Museum of London, Louvre Museum of Paris, Metropolitan Museum of New-York, as well as museums of Vienna, Rome, Berlin, Istanbul, Tehran and Cairo. The history of folk arts in Azerbaijan, created by the labour of our people and widely used in its life and household has a long and interesting history. Works of art made from metal extracted from Nakhchivan, Mingachevir, Gadabay, Ganja and other places are approximately 5000 years old. Crockery, weapons and adornments found in those areas are not only historical facts, but also valuable sources which testify the skills of the master that created them.
Material and cultural samples, found during archeological excavations on the territory of Azerbaijan, testify that our ancestors made crockery, daggers, axes, belts and adornments from bronze and used them in daily life in the 2nd millennium BC. This proves how old such types of activity as copper-smithy and gold smithy are. The portrayals and decorations on some metal works show traditions, religious ideas and even garments of people of that epoch. History, ethnographical and artistic features of folk art are reflected on the garments. These features are reflected both on garments of certain form and its adornments, as well as fine needle-work, knitting.
Bronze needles and awls of the beginning of the bronze epoch (III millennium B.C.) were found during archeological excavations in Azerbaijan, as well. These findings prove that the ancient population of Azerbaijan could sue clothes for themselves. Little clay statues found from Kultapa and Mingachevir (III millennium B.C) and signet rings of the V century B.C found in Mingachevir provided opportunities to have a certain idea of garments of that time. Clothing remnants sewed from different silk materials were found in Mingachevir catacombs of V-VI centuries B.C. Number of adornments (III-IV century B.C), made of gold, and clay crock in foot-gear form are well-grounded evidences, proving high material culture of Azerbaijanis in the ancient times.
Different pictures, scraped on housing equipments and jewelry made from copper, bronze, gold prove existence of fine art in Azerbaijan since ancient times.
Carpets, weaved by separate carpet-making schools of Azerbaijan (Guba, Baku, Shirvan, Ganja, Gazakh, 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 of the early bronze epoch (III millennium B.C) in Ayichingili and Parichingil mountains near Zalkha lake in Kalbajar region, rock carvings in Gamigaya mountains in the north of Ordubad town are of exceptional importance among the oldest samples of fine art. Pictures about ancient people's way of life, household, labour, carved in the Gobustan rocks represent special interest. Different subjects, scenes on hunting, cattle breeding, planting and other spheres of household, human and animal pictures were carved in dynamic way. The Gobustan rock carvings - pictograms cover centuries old history from primitive communal order to feudalism. Picture of people, dancing “Yalli”, represents special interest among the Gobustan rock carvings. This picture testify Azerbaijani people's interest in music since ancient times.
Azerbaijan, along with fine arts, is rich with architecture, which is a branch of folk art since ancient times. The Maiden Tower and the Shirvanshah's Palace Complex in Baku, the Momina Khatun and the Yusif bin Kuseyir mausoleums created by architect Ajami in Nakhchivan, the Palace of Panahali khan in Shusha, the Natavan’s house, paintings on the wall of Shaki khan's palace and others are the rare pearls of architectural art.
The Land of Fire, motherland of Azerbaijani people who possess rich musical and cultural heritage, is also famous as a land of magic music. Azerbaijani music, enriching world musical culture with its rare pearls, has centuries old traditions. Representatives of folk music, who created great and rich heritage by handing over these traditions from generations to generations, have had a great role in the development of Azerbaijani music. Folk songs, dances, ashug music (folk poet and singer) have specific place in Azerbaijani national music.
Mughams are foundation of Azerbaijani national music. It is not a coincidence that UNESCO, specialized organization of UN, entered Azerbaijani mugham into the list of world cultural heritage.
Our national music has developed along with literature since ancient times. For instance, mugham developed along with Eastern poetry. Thus, singers, who performed mugham, recited ghazals (a kind of poem) by Azerbaijani well-known poets such as Nizami, Khagani, Fuzuli, Nasimi.
Works of art, created by classics and contemporaries, take honorable place in cultural heritage of the world.
Another branch of art, related with Azerbaijani literature, is theatre. The roots of Azerbaijani theatre art are connected with 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 the establishment of popular theatre. Azerbaijani folk theatre was of realistic character and was connected with working people. Repertoire of popular theatre consisted of short spectacles of ethic content. Popular theatre played an important part in establishment of Azerbaijani professional theatre.
Roots of theatre art, which dated back to ancient times, started with spectacles "Vizier of Lankaran khanate" and "Haji Gara" by M.F.Akhundov, staged in Baku in March and April 1873.
The repertoire of Azerbaijani theatre, which passed 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, etc. Cinematography, one of the most interesting and popular art of our time, has penetrated into people's life and become integral part of it. National cinematography, which is relatively young, opens bottoms of human heart and new live horizons. It gained great experience year-by-year and created number of different works, reflecting our people's life and problems. These films are kept for future generations and became people's spiritual heritage.