Art of Azerbaijan carpets fascinates South Koreans

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Artistic carpets woven in different regions across Azerbaijan are on display in Seoul. (AN Photo)
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Artistic carpets woven in different regions across Azerbaijan are on display in Seoul. (AN Photo)
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Artistic carpets woven in different regions across Azerbaijan are on display in Seoul. (AN Photo)
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Artistic carpets woven in different regions across Azerbaijan are on display in Seoul. (AN Photo)
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Artistic carpets woven in different regions across Azerbaijan are on display in Seoul. (AN Photo)
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Artistic carpets woven in different regions across Azerbaijan are on display in Seoul. (AN Photo)
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Ambassador of Azerbaijan to South Korea Ramzi Teymurov (Image courtesy: Embassy of Azerbaijan in Seoul)
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It is the first exhibition of Azerbaijan carpets, which were added to the UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2010, in South Korea, which established diplomatic ties with the Muslim nation in 1992. (Image courtesy: Embassy of Azerbaijan in Seoul)
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Ambassador Ramzi Teymurov poses for a photograph with diplomats and officials in Seoul during the exhibition. (Image courtesy: Embassy of Azerbaijan in Seoul)
Updated 15 February 2019
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Art of Azerbaijan carpets fascinates South Koreans

  • Azerbaijan carpets are part of UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in South Korea
  • Korea Foundation presents rich and centuries-old Azerbaijani art of carpet weaving to the Korean public

SEOUL: Artisan carpets woven across Azerbaijan are on display in South Korea’s capital, evoking the curiosity of many Korean visitors.

The “Carpets, Pearls of Azerbaijan” exhibition kicked off on Nov. 26 at a gallery in central Seoul.

The exhibition was a joint effort between Azeri Embassy and the Korea Foundation, a non-profit public diplomacy organization that promotes better understanding of the Far East country, as well as the Azerkhalcha Open Joint Stock Company, which oversees the production, development, sales, import and export of carpets within Azerbaijan.

It is the first exhibition of Azerbaijan carpets, which were added to the UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2010, in South Korea, which established diplomatic ties with the Muslim nation in 1992.

On display were 18 carpets woven by nine carpet-weaving schools of Baku, Karabakh, Gazakh, Guba, Ganja, Irevan, Nakhchivan, Shirvan and Tabriz.

“The purpose of the exhibition is to introduce the rich and centuries-old Azerbaijani carpet-weaving tradition here, as most Koreans are not aware of the Eurasia country being a carpet-producing country,” Ramzi Teymurov, the Azerbaijani ambassador to South Korea, told Arab News.

“The display of Azerbaijani cultural heritage is a historically important event that will serve as a milestone in boosting cultural exchanges further between the two nations.”

Azerbaijan carpets typically feature a recurring set of images, including plants and abstract geometric forms.

“The delicacy and complexity of the patterns mean our carpets are heavier than most, and that makes them all the more precious and unique,” added Teymurov. “A single carpet can contain up to 5,000 threads per square decimeter.”

The event kicked off in commemoration of Azerbaijan’s Independence Day in October, which marked 100 years since the country’s establishment.

The president of the Korea Foundation, Lee Shi-hyung, echoed the sentiment, saying: “The foundation is very glad to have had the opportunity to introduce Azerbaijani art and culture, which the Korean public may be somewhat unfamiliar with.”

“The ancient art of carpet-weaving has survived and evolved to this present day, so this exhibition will be testimony of Azerbaijan’s artistic and cultural heritage,” he added.

Patterns, color and weaving techniques differ from region to region. For example, carpets made in Baku stand out through the inclusion of Buta, the symbol of fire in Azerbaijan’s Absheron region.

In the city of Ganja, carpets are produced for both trade and local use thanks to good sheep-breeding conditions in the region’s mountainous and foothill districts.

Carpets made in the Yerevan region, meanwhile, are woven out of camel, sheep and goat wool, dyed in several colors and embroidered with birds and animals that pertain to religious conviction.

“Azerbaijani carpets exemplify custom, tradition and national economic activity,” Kwon Jong-ok, an academic, told Arab News. “The patterns symbolize the country’s history and people’s beliefs, while also bringing artistic capabilities to life.”

“Many young Koreans seem to be taking a keen interest in these patterns, which resemble those used for tattoos,” he added. “A new type of cultural exchange that reconciles youth fashion here with ancient design from Azerbaijan seems to be taking place.”

“I’m simply fascinated by the intricate skills of Azerbaijani carpet-makers,” said Said Hwang Ye-eun, 22, a student of Sangmyung University in Seoul.

During a group tour, Lee Hye-won, 24, a student at the same university, said the exhibition has made her keen to visit Azerbaijan.

“I have little knowledge about the country, but after seeing these carpets, I am curious to get to know its culture,” Lee said.

The world’s first specialized carpet museum, formerly known as the State Museum of Azerbaijani Carpet and Applied Art, was opened in Baku in 1967.

The Seoul exhibition will be held until Dec. 19.


UAE gift helps French palace reopen ‘forgotten theater’

Updated 18 June 2019
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UAE gift helps French palace reopen ‘forgotten theater’

  • Now called the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan Theatre, it is the latest example of the close relations between Paris and Abu Dhabi
  • The UAE capital already hosts the Louvre Abu Dhabi, opened by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and President Emmanuel Macron in 2017

FONTAINEBLEAU: An exquisite 19th-century French theater outside Paris that fell into disuse for one and half centuries has been restored with the help of a €10 million donation from oil-rich Abu Dhabi.
The Napoleon III theater at Fontainebleau Palace south of Paris was built between 1853 and 1856 under the reign of the nephew of emperor Napoleon I.
It opened in 1857 but was used only a dozen times, which has helped preserve its gilded adornments, before being abandoned in 1870 after the fall of Napoleon III.
But during a state visit to France in 2007, Sheikh Khalifa, ruler of Abu Dhabi and president of the United Arab Emirates, was reportedly entranced by the abandoned theater and offered €10 million ($11.2 million) on the spot for its restoration.
After a project that has lasted 12 years the theater is now being reopened.
An official inauguration is expected soon, hosted by French Culture Minister Franck Riester and attended by UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
Now called the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan Theatre, it is the latest example of the close relations between Paris and Abu Dhabi.
The UAE capital already hosts the Louvre Abu Dhabi, opened by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and President Emmanuel Macron in 2017, the first foreign institution to carry the name of the great Paris museum.
For all its ornate beauty, the theater has hardly ever been used for its orginal purpose, hosting only a dozen performances between 1857 and 1868, each attended by around 400 people.
“While it had been forgotten, the theater was in an almost perfect state,” said the head of the Fontainebleau Palace, Jean-Francois Hebert.
“Let us not waste this jewel, and show this extraordinary place of decorative arts,” he added.
According to the palace, the theater is “probably the last in Europe to have kept almost all its original machinery, lighting and decor.”
Having such a theater was the desire of Napoleon III’s wife Eugenie. But after the defeat, his capture in the Franco-Prussian war in 1870 and the declaration of France’s Third Republic, the theater fell into virtual oblivion.
Following the renovation, the theater will mainly be a place to visit and admire, rather than for regularly holding concerts.
“The aim is not to give the theater back to its first vocation” given its “very fragile structure,” said Hebert.
Short shows and recitals may be performed in exceptional cases, under the tightest security measures and fire regulations. But regular guided tours will allow visitors to discover the site, including the stage sets.
The restoration aimed to use as little new material as possible, with 80 percent of the original material preserved.
The opulent central chandelier — three meters high and 2.5 meters wide — has been restored to its original form.