The Azerbaijan State News Agency

CULTURE

National Heritage of Azerbaijan: Basgal and Kalagayi

Baku, November 27, AZERTAC

Reminding slightly of the Baku fortress, the village of Basgal pleases the eye with well-groomed streets and houses. Located 56 km from the present center of Ismayilli district, Basgal played the role of a district center until 1933. The village with an area of 60 hectares is now a state cultural and historical reserve. In honor of this village, the famous musical theme “Basgal” was created. Some episodes of the classic Azerbaijani film “On the far shores” were also filmed here. But most importantly, what Basgal is famous for is the manufacture of national silk Shawls - kalagayi, which are valued throughout the world.

Seismic belt and special dialect

"Basgal" is a Turkic word. According to Azerbaijani academician Ziya Bunyatov, it originated from the merging of the words: “bas” and “gal” and could mean “winning fortress” or “raise a fortress”.

The excavations carried out in Basgal in the 80s of the last century testify to at least a 2000-year history of these places. Basgal was also part of the ancient state - Caucasian Albania. In the southeast of Basgal, there are monuments that are traces of ancient settlements belonging to the era of antiquity and the Middle Ages. In the Basgal Cemetery, graves from at least 500 years old with ancient gravestones can still be found.

The favorable geographical location of the settlement was of political, economic and strategic importance. In the Middle Ages, a large number of fortresses and fortifications were built to protect Basgal from numerous conquerors.

The narrow streets, paved with cobblestones, and houses built of the same stones create a special atmosphere. Two-storey houses, neatly lined along the street, there are courtyards. An interesting feature of Basgal is that all the houses have fronts facing Mecca. Another distinctive feature is that since the 17th century, hamams in Basgal were arranged inside the houses. Now it is a familiar phenomenon for us, but at the time this kind of convenience was usually built in the courtyards or was completely absent, and people visited public baths.

On the first floor of a typical Basgal house there are utility rooms, the second floor is residential. In the buildings, masonry every 5-6 layers of river stone is shifted by logs. Experts call this the “seismic belt” that makes buildings resistant to earthquakes.

The population of the village is small. So, if 3,000 people lived here 20 years ago, now there are about 1,500 left. Basgal people speak a dialect of the Azerbaijani language close to Tebriz. Mixing the sounds of g, j, s, gives their speech a special sound.

Teahouse in the tree and the ancient sewage system

In the center of Basgal there is a spacious square with a magnificent panorama of the Sayad and Fit mountains and the surrounding forests.

The village has five large residential areas, the largest of which are Goshabulag and Demirchi Bazaar. The oldest residential quarter - Kalyakyucha. The prominent historical object of the Demirchi quarter of the bazaars is an old hamam dating back to the 17th century. Basgal was one of the stops on the Great Silk Road. Demirchi Bazaar still remembers trading caravans and brisk trade. Chinara (platan) grows in this residential quarter, planted in the 16th century. The tree is still alive, despite the huge cavity, gaping in its huge trunk. It is so large that at one time it housed a whole teahouse, and after that there was a hairdresser. Currently, the tree is protected by the state.

In the quarter of Demirchi Bazaar there is an old mosque, called Haji Badal (1854). In the period from 1924 to 1990, the mosque was used as a barn, but now it operates for its intended purpose.

The Al Fagir Mosque (XVII century) - the most ancient historical object of the Kalyakyucha quarter, was built in 475 AH by Al Fagir Sheikh Safai ibn Sheikh Mohammed. In Soviet times, 2 minarets and a stone inscription of a mosque were destroyed. Before the fire in 1975, the building was used as a House of Culture. Because of these misadventures, the mosque lost its original appearance.

It is worth noting that in the 12th century a sewage system was built in Basgal, which is called the kurebend. Pipes laid underground and covered with slabs carried the sewage out of the city. The system resembles a similar one in another ancient town of the Ismayilli region, Lahich, where it still functions.

Secrets of Kalagayi

In the Middle Ages, Basgal was one of the centers of crafts and silk-spinning. Basgalians claim that the residents of Sheki, also famous for its silk, adopted the art of silk weaving from them.

Archaeologist A.P. Fituni in his article “The History of the Last Capital of Shirvan” wrote: “In 1795, during the military campaign of the Persian Shah Agamagomet to Georgia, Mugan, Talysh and Shirvan, Shirvanshah Mustafa with his close relatives took refuge on Mount Fit. In the picturesque town of Basgal, located nearby, they founded a silk spinning mill.”

Until recently, almost every Basgal house operated ancient silk-spinning machines. The art of dyers, weavers, sericulture and silk-weaving was passed on from generation to generation. And the most popular silk product, of course, was Kalagayi - a national type of shawl.

Kalagayi is a traditional women's scarf, which is produced exclusively in Azerbaijan. This light head cover, weighing 125 grams, easily passes through a hole in a wedding ring.

A wonderful sample of Azerbaijani folk art - Kalagayi, was one of the main attributes of women's clothing, regardless of social status. There were Kalagayi for girls, for women of middle and old age. Kalagayi can be of different colors and sizes, and are usually decorated with floral or geometric patterns along the entire edge (Yelani) or in the center (Khoncha) of the product. Usually at the wedding they put on the bride a red Kalagayi, and preferred black scarves to mourning events. For everyday wear, women used white, cream and brown Kalagayi. The form of tying Kalagayi also mattered. So young women and girls tied a headscarf like an orpeg, and aged women tied it like a turban or dinga. Nowadays, Kalagayi can be worn, for example, as a shawl draped over shoulders, as a pareo, pancho, etc.

The most valuable were Kalagayi, which contain six or seven colors. They are still produced in Basgal.

The triumph of silk and craftsmanship

In Azerbaijan, where sericulture and silk-weaving developed from time immemorial, silk fabrics were widely used in national clothes. In the first half of the 19th century, the fame of Basgal silk products went beyond the borders of Azerbaijan. In 1862, for the first time, Azerbaijani silk was exhibited at the International Exhibition in London, where the Basgal weaver Nasir Abdulaziz was honored with a silver medal and a diploma for gentle Kalagayi and Ganovuz (a very thin bright silk fabric).

In the XIX century, journalist M.N. Lebedev-Kostromtsev, who visited the village, inspected the weaving workshops and familiarized with the difficult situation of the weavers, who nevertheless remained faithful to their craft, wrote: “We arrived in Basgal from Shamakhi on small but very fast horses. The animals understood their owner, a swarthy middle-aged man from half a word. They listened attentively and avoided all stones and other obstacles on the way, and boldly crossed a stormy mountain river. We arrived in Basgal in the evening. Oil lamps, lanterns on the verandas well lit courtyards. There was a beautiful melodic voice. The driver said that it was the voice of the muezzin, coming from the minaret, which calls everyone to the evening prayer.” The newspaper "Kavkaz" No. 310, 1882.

As we have already noted, almost until the 60s of the last century, Kalagayi was weaved in every Basgal house. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the counters of Azerbaijan were flooded with various shawls and other women's headdresses, and the national Kalagayi went out of fashion for a while. But lately, in the wake of a renewed interest in national traditions, the Kalagayi have become relevant again. In the village of Basgal, the Basgal Silk Center has been operating for several years, where not only Kalagayi, but also other silk products are woven. The Center also has a small Kalagayi museum.

Kalagayi in this Center are made to order, and their cost depends on the number of flowers and the complexity of the ornament. Making a Kalagayi is a long process. One Kalagayi is made in 7-10 days. First, the fabric is made of silk threads and cut into the desired dimensions. Then it is painted by the traditional method in large cauldrons with boiling water, where natural plant dyes are placed. Silk fabrics are boiled so that they do not fade in the future. In fact, the fabric of the Kalagayi may wear out, but it will never lose its original color.

After dyeing, the fabric is dried, smoothed and then the process of its decoration begins. For this purpose, special stencils with different national ornaments are used, each of which has its own name and meaning. The most popular among these ornaments is the Buta.

The Buta is a pattern in the form of a drop, with a pointed and curved upper end. Something he recalls the imprint of the underside of the hand folded into a fist. Masters in Basgal assure that this is exactly the case - with the bottom of a folded palm dipped in paint, the Buta ornament was originally affixed. It is assumed that this ornament, widespread in Azerbaijan, goes back to the epoch of fire worship.

The Center has a unique interactive Kalagayi museum. Visitors to the museum can not only familiarize themselves with the history and traditions of Kalagayi, but also observe the manufacturing process and even take part in it themselves, and then save their own work with a long memory of Basgal.

Despite the vagaries of fashion, the size and shape of Kalagayi patterns remain unchanged. So, Kalagayi can be considered one of the most ancient headdress of the world, relevant at all times.

 

Emil Eyyubov

Share news on social media

Follow us on social network

Azerbaijan, International Dialogue Centre discuss prospects for cooperation

SOCAR and ACWA Power forge cooperation for Low Carbon / Green Fertilizer Project

Oil prices go up in global markets

Azeri Light crude dips to $88

Iran sanctions: US and UK extend measures against Tehran

Azerbaijan`s Milli Majlis hosts scientific conference on "New Caledonia: History, contemporary challenges and expected future”

Chair of New Caledonian Congress Committee: COP29 will contribute to addressing global climate change problems

Dubai Food Festival 2024 set to begin April 19

Google fires 28 employees for protesting Israel cloud deal

® Azercell participates in ADA Employability Week

Azerbaijan`s Milli Majlis and New Caledonian Congress sign MoU on cooperation VIDEO

Azerbaijan is a genuine example for us, says Chair of New Caledonian Congress Committee VIDEO

New Caledonian Congress member thanks Azerbaijan for support VIDEO

Azerbaijan, Türkiye discuss prospect for agricultural cooperation

Turkish minister: Baku-hosted COP29 session is important for entire world

® Transfer your loans to Kapital Bank and get a loan without cash withdrawal commission

Head of Azerbaijan's State Service of Special Communication and Information Security explore opportunities for cooperation with his Romanian counterpart

Azerbaijani NGOs and residents of Karabakh and East Zangezur send open letter to Norwegian Nobel Committee

SpaceX launches 23 Starlink satellites into space

Azerbaijani judo referee to officiate at Paris 2024 Paralympic Games

® Azercell hosts the GSMA M360 Eurasia in Baku for the second time

Azerbaijan explore prospects for social security cooperation with Türkiye and Moldova

New Caledonian delegation visits Baku Initiative Group office

Possibilities for cooperation between Baku Higher Oil School and higher educational institutions in Uzbekistan discussed

Azerbaijani female chess players to fight for glory at European championship in Greece

Tsunami alert after a volcano in Indonesia has several big eruptions and thousands are told to leave

The Last Caravaggio review – a gripping and murderously dark finale

Azerbaijan, Ukraine discuss COP29-related issues

The Oslo Statement creates new challenges on people development

71 killed, 67 injured in rain-related accidents in Pakistan

French police evict hundreds from abandoned Paris warehouse ahead of Olympics

Azerbaijan, Pakistan discuss educational cooperation

Azerbaijani military pilots professionally conduct training flights VIDEO

Azerbaijan’s Energy Minister embarks on visit to US

Protests, heightened terror threat mean tight security at Eurovision Song Contest in Sweden

Azerbaijan to promote its culture in Spain

Fenerbahce to host Olympiacos in Conference League quarterfinal 2nd leg

Two Azerbaijani gymnasts into final of FIG Apparatus World Cup

Azerbaijan, EBRD discuss green energy partnership in Abu Dhabi

New Caledonian delegation visits Heydar Aliyev Center VIDEO

31 years pass since the Bashlibel tragedy, one of the bloodiest pages of our history

Oil prices go up in global markets

U.S. Department of State responds to AZERTAC's inquiry

Combined Arms Army’s Air Force holds tactical-special exercise, Defense Ministry

Azerbaijani oil price declines in global markets

Bayern Munich, Real Madrid advance to UEFA Champions League semifinal

Cabinet of Ministers convenes to address implementation of order on electric vehicle promotion

Azerbaijan names 18 boxers for European Championships in Belgrade

Potential priorities and plans of Azerbaijan`s CICA chairmanship in 2024-2026 discussed

® Kapital Bank OJSC's bonds placed at Baku Stock Exchange

AZAL and DFS Aviation Services agree to modernize Lachin Airport

Action plan related to designation of city of Shusha as 'Youth Capital of Organization of Islamic Cooperation' to be prepared - ORDER

International Renewable Energy Agency’s 14th Assembly continues with panel sessions

New Caledonian delegation visits NAM Youth Organization’s headquarters VIDEO

Over 90 pct of Sudanese school-age children deprived of formal education due to conflict: UNICEF

Chair of New Caledonian Congress Committee visits St. Mary's Catholic Church in Baku VIDEO

Submissions open for 2nd Silk Road Global News Awards

‘New Caledonian people highly appreciate Azerbaijan’s support’

Former No. 1 pick Blake Griffin retires after 14 seasons

‘Revenues from Azerbaijan’s transport sector increased by 15 per cent’

Around 40 new epidemics recorded each year in West African sub-region

Azerbaijani pool player claims European championship title

UK lawmakers vote to approve plans to ban smoking for those born after 2009

UAE ready to support Azerbaijan during its presidency of COP29

Hikmet Hajiyev: The withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from Azerbaijani territory ahead of schedule has been decided by the leaders of both countries

Donald Trump falls $75mn behind Joe Biden in money race as donor base shrinks

71 killed, 67 injured in rain-related accidents in Pakistan

Azerbaijani ambassador presents his credentials to President of Portugal

Energy Minister: Azerbaijan will play an important role in regional integration in field of renewable energy

Most massive stellar black hole in the Milky Way discovered 'extremely close' to Earth

UNEC included in same group as world universities in international ranking

® “Her Action in Art” festival: celebrating women's contributions in art

Azerbaijan, International Renewable Energy Agency discuss prospects for cooperation

President Ilham Aliyev received Secretary General of Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia VIDEO

14th Assembly of International Renewable Energy Agency gets underway in Abu Dhabi

From Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos, President of the Republic of the Philippines

Honda to launch next-generation EVs in China by 2027

Researchers in Australia identify 3 new species of extinct kangaroos

Foreign Ministry: France’s accusation against Azerbaijan of unilateral actions are completely unfounded

Azerbaijan, EU discuss current state and prospects for developing relations

Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry: Quadrocopter attempting to carry out reconnaissance flights in direction of Tovuz district neutralized VIDEO

Antibiotics aren't effective for most lower tract respiratory infections

Japan probes Google antitrust allegation concerning ad services

Azerbaijani oil price exceeds 93 dollars

Global oil prices drop

People's Artist of Azerbaijan Chingiz Sadykhov’s 95th anniversary marked in Northern California

Dortmund, Paris Saint-Germain both reach Champions League semifinals with comebacks

Trump trial gets underway in New York with jury selection in historic case

Release of the Press Service of the President

Tree-planting campaign held in Baku

Renovated courtyards handed over to residents with participation of Leyla Aliyeva

Baku presents official poster of ISSF World Cup

World Bank welcomes “ASAN service" concept

Azerbaijan name 7 gymnasts to compete in FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup - AG Trophy in Baku

US NSA Jake Sullivan postpones India visit amid Middle East crisis

Coral reefs hit by fourth global bleaching event

Azerbaijan, ACWA Power discuss cooperation on onshore and offshore wind energy projects

Azerbaijan exports crude oil and oil products worth about $3.5 billion in Q1 2024

Abu Dhabi playing host to 14th Assembly of International Renewable Energy Agency

Memorandum of Understanding on establishing Türkiye-Azerbaijan University approved - ORDER