Back

How to buy a carpet in Baku

In a recent article I have written about souvenirs from Baku. Today, I will focus on Azerbaijan’s carpets. They make the most authentic and valuable souvenirs one can bring home. Hand-woven carpets from Azerbaijan are considered a national treasure and make a unique memory.

Before starting to look for carpets I would recommend to get to know what it is that makes them a unique commodity. It is interesting and it will give you a better understanding on how to evaluate the quality and therefore the price for your souvenir.

If you plan to take a chosen carpet overseas consider that you need a few days to get a certificate that states the price and the age of the carpet.  Carpets older than 30 years may not be exported at all!

This article will list the steps on how and where to buy an Azerbaijani carpet and how to get it through border control. Before, we jump in to the details take a few minutes time to watch this inspiring introductory video about carpet weaving in Azerbaijan:

 

 

[YT video=”2CHy29iBEf4″ /]

 

Bargaining

Hand woven carpets compared to factory produced carpets have slight imperfections. Ornaments and manufacturing technique are the most common criteria you can set for your decision.  The quality of the carpet is considered by the amount of the knots it has. The more the better!

The most important rule for bargaining is to never take the first price. A thumb-rule is that you can usually get the initial price down by 20%. If you buy multiple items from the same dealer a bigger discount can apply.

Just recently my husband and I were in Icheri Sheher (Baku, Old City) to get a few gifts. I was looking around the main souvenir shopping area starting at the “Flying Carpets” shop. Overall we visited 6 stores to compare prices and patterns. Our target was to purchase a small, silk carpet of less than 1 square meter that would be easy to transport.

The prices vary from shop owner to shop owner ranging from 300 Manat to 230 Manat as initial price for a small silk carpet. Every time bargaining would start I ask the dealer whether he would be able to give us a discount. If he agrees, the game begins. We usually suggest 3 to 5 bids saying how much we would pay for it. No need to rush, take a look at all carpets and compare patterns and the quality of work. If you are planning on buying multiple rugs you can get an even better discount.

After visiting a few stores we realized most of them had the same 3-5 patterns / color combinations of small 1 square meter carpets. Knowing what we want it then came down to the price. When we met a very friendly carpet dealer whose products met all our criteria we still walked away explaining that we are still not sure. As we were walking out he called out his very last price. Although, we were ready to buy we walked into two more stores just to be sure not to miss a nice carpet. Finally, we took out the exact amount of the proposed price and picked up our souvenirs. Mission accomplished!

Being around in this city for a while I would recommend to buy carpets in carpet stores inside the Old City’s walls. Even without big bargaining skills you would find better prices there then in a souvenir store downtown.

 

Exporting Certificates for Azerbaijan’s Carpets

This is a topic I still have not been able to find 100% reliable information on.

When our friends visited us in Baku they purchased a small silk carpet. Because multiple carpet dealers confirmed that all carpets up to 1 square meter DO NOT need a certificate. The next day we all took a night train to Tbilisi. At the border, they asked us to show the carpet. Even the head of border control came to evaluate the situation. I explained what the carpet dealers told me and he accepted it without complains.

As I was recently talking to the lady from the Carpet Museum who officially provides the carpet certificates she was not sure about the actual law but said all carpets NEED a certificate, even small ones. The tiny ones that are being sold in frames do not require a certificate. That being said, this person was not able to tell me where the line is between certificate-required and certificate-free goods. Also, I was not able to find any ruling on the export requirements in English.

 

Get a Certificate for Your Carpet

Usually, you should be able to get a certificate from the same carpet dealer (in Icheri Sheher) you buy the rug from. If not, you need to get it at the Carpet Museum. Walk up to the front desk and ask for the person who provides these documents. Have your carpet with you AND the receipt from your carpet dealer (a phone number and name might be helpful too) be prepared that this person might be speaking Azeri only.

Certificates are issued in the Carpet Museum every Wednesday!

Normal cost for carpet certificate: 26 AZN

This is the price if you leave your carpet there and pick it up one week later.

Expedited cost for carpet certificate: 46 AZN

With the expedited version you can take your carpet with you the same (Wednes-) day.

 

Carpet Museum 

As of September 2nd, 2014 this new Carpet Museum has open its doors to visitors. At the entrance next to the small carpets and crafts store you will see 2 women weaving a carpet LIFE. These carpets are available for purchase in the carpet museum.

Very easy to spot: The museum looks like a rolled up carpet 🙂

Mikayil Useynov Ave, 28, The Seaside Boulevard, Baku Tel.: +99412 497 20 57, Opening hours: 10.00 – 18.00, closed on Mondays) at the Boulevard.

Before going all the way out to the museum, I would recommend calling the front desk and confirming whether the person issuing certificates is in the office.

 

        

 

The Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center has also a small cultural exhibition that displays a few carpets categorized by different weaving schools in Azerbaijan. Furthermore, that exhibition states that local carpet weavers have been influenced through cultural exchange but also regional conflicts in their weaving styles. Their experiences were reflected in their carpets. Throughout Azerbaijan appeared numerous carpet production centers; each featured its own specific style and school.

 

Manufacturing Techniques

Carpet manufacturing techniques are distinguished by pile less (flat weave, knotless) and piled carpets (knotted). The most prominent pile less carpets are Sumakh and Kilim.

 

Natural colors

Azerbaijan carpet makers use yarn dyes of basic seven colors of varying shades. Unlike chemical dyes, natural colorants do not erode the structure of wool fibbers and are more vibrant. These natural dyes come from plants roots, skin of pomegranates, nuts, leaves, fruits and insects. Imagine, how many insects would you need to gather to produce a rich red color for a carpet? I haven’t been able to find an answer to that question but it means a lot of work.

In order to achieve yellow onion peels, mulberry leaves collected can be used. Roots of madder create a pink colors and indigo is being used for blue tones. At the very end of the yarn dyeing process a dyer adds salt, alum or vinegar into the dye solution to increase the intensity, fastness and durability of colors.

 

Gazagh School

– Geometrical forms and animal pictures, less colors, harmonious color combinations

– Ochreous brown, green, black-yellow and white-red tones

The Gazagh carpets have a geometrical ornamental pattern; the composition is not very complex with a focus on a schematic presentation of the geometrical patterns, plants and animals.

 

Karabakh School

Notable for their big size, Karabakh carpets are divided into 4 groups: With medallion, without medallion, carpets for Namaz and with a plot. Very popular is a set of 5 carpets to accessorize the interior of a house or apartment.

 

Nakhchivan School

Nakhchivan carpets are usually long of thin shape with geometrical, vegetal and animal patterns.

 

Tabriz School

This school is considered to be the most ancient in Azerbaijan dating back to 11/12th century reaching its peak in the 17th century. Characteristic are a central medallion, ornaments and pictures in the center of the carpet and miniature art.

 

Guba School

The ornamental pattern is characterized by geometrical and vegetal motifs, most of them stylized. These include Gyryz, Gymyl, Gonakend, Shahnezerli and other carpets. On the face of it, the ornamental pattern in the Guba carpet group may appear to be too mixed and varied. However, on closer examination it becomes evident that all ornaments in the composition strictly follow a common design.

 

Shirvan School

The Shirvan carpets are characterized by an intricate design, which depicts numerous artifacts of everyday life, birds and people. About 14/15th century.

 

Baku School

The carpet composition often includes medallions. They are filled by various motifs, most often by stylized images of plants, which lost their resemblance to the original object after they had become more geometric.

 

Ganja School

Ganja is famous for its silk and wool fabrics as well as for its high quality carpets. The ornamental decor of the Ganja carpets is rich and diverse, with a focus on geometrical motifs as well as schematic presentation of plants and animals.

The Ganja carpets include a relatively small number of carpet compositions, all in all between 8 and 20 patterns.

Comments

comments