CULTURE


Lahij – Azerbaijani village of copper craftsmanship, a UNESCO protected art form

Baku, January 15, AZERTAC

In the North of Azerbaijan lies one of the country`s oldest villages – Lahij, that was once the copper mining hub producing copperware exported across the Middle East.

Copper craftsmanship of Lahij is the traditional practice of making and using copperware.

Located on the left bank of the Girdimanchay River in the country’s Ismayilli district at an altitude of 1,375 meters above sea level, Lahij has long been famous for weapons and utensils, which are made of copper. The dishes and weapons made by the coppersmiths of Lahij were famous in the Caucasus and willingly sold out.

Local craftsmen still continue the work of their ancestors: they are copper workers, tanneries, potters, blacksmiths, masters of hats, wood carvers. The village is also known for its masters producing carpets, souvenirs and national clothes. The larger community of people using the copperware in daily life is scattered in many regions of Azerbaijan.

For Lahij copper masters, the process of making copperware consists of several stages: buying copper from local copper-producing wholesalers (or recycling), managing the making process and selling final copperware directly from their workshops (‘misgerkhana’). The process of copperware making in Lahij (depending on the types of copperware) generally consists in smelting the copper, shaping copper sheets, soldering and polishing. The most important final stage requires most of masters’ time and effort and consists in ornamental decorative engraving of the polished copperware with different vegetative patterns reflecting craftsmen’s traditional views and knowledge about their environment and cultural values.

Today, copper tableware made in Lahij is on display in some of the world’s most famous museums, including the Louvre in Paris and it's highly valued locally too.

Lahic, as historical-cultural reserve, has also been inscribed in the Great Silk Road international tourist route.

The Lahij copper craftsmanship was included in the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity at the 10th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage held in the Namibian capital of Windhoek on from November 30 to December 4, 2015.

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