Tag Archives: azerbaijan

Unique Appliqué Craft – Threadwork on Glass from Azerbaijan

The finished product

Last November I travelled to the Caucasus in search of carpets, but also other handcrafted items that might enrich Arastan’s offering. What I found was a lot of skill, not just in carpet weaving, but also in metalwork, stone masonry and wood carving. But skill is not enough to turn creativity and manual dexterity into a viable business. The artisan also needs some market savvy, so as to understand what customers are willing to buy; and especially some innovation in order to achieve a modicum of differentiation and attract the buyer’s attention. In Azerbaijan I came across the work of one artisan who seems to have achieved this, entirely of her own accord.

Simuzer, 36, lives in Qobu, a small town not to be confused with Quba, or with Qobustan, which is known for its petroglyphs and mud volcanoes. She comes from a family of carpet weavers, so she learned the …

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Architectural Wonders in Baku, Copper in Lahij, Caravanserai in Sheki

Caravanserai 19th-century engraving

Baku is a metropolis that I can only describe as grand. Its buildings are grand, and its ambitions are even grander. A meticulously restored medieval citadel – a warren of quiet cobbled alleyways enclosed by stone walls – is surrounded by a stunning urban landscape of impressive neo-classical buildings, wide boulevards and a multitude of fountains, all dating from the end of the 19th century, when Baku experienced its first oil boom. Here too, every brick and cornice has been painstakingly restored to its full splendour. And beyond and above all this neo-classical elegance rise awesome and highly futuristic new structures of steel and glass – the fruits of the current oil boom.

Some of them, such as the Flame Towers and the Crystal Hall, are at the very cutting edge of contemporary architecture, rivalling the ultramodern hyperboles of Dubai and Shanghai. (Check out this enlightening list of the noteworthy architecture that is changing Baku’s …

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Caucasus Reconnaissance

Pomegranate seller in Quba

Remember me? Several months ago I wrote a short primer on carpet motifs on this blog. I was a complete novice in all matters woven back then, and the blog entry was as much an attempt to educate myself as it was a presentation on the topic. I did it because my old friend Nisha – never a stranger to pressing friends, family and sundry strangers into unpaid servitude – realised that I was living in Turkey and at a loose end, and quickly seized on the opportunity.

You’re in Turkey, she said, so inform yourself about carpet designs. Later she said, casually, you should find out more about Caucasian rugs in particular, because they are striking and unusual, and I want to add more of them to Arastan’s portfolio. And then, quite brazenly, the Caucasus is so much closer for you than for me, why don’t you do a short reconnaissance trip …

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  • Welcome to Arastan

    Arastan was an online store that curated rare and handpicked treasures from exotic bazaars along the ancient silk route. Unfortunately we ceased trading in early 2014.

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