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.


Performance artist Marina Abramovic returns to native Belgrade for retrospective

Updated 21 September 2019

Performance artist Marina Abramovic returns to native Belgrade for retrospective

  • ‘You know for me it’s very emotional to be here, and it’s not easy, there’s lots of nostalgia, lots of memories that are forgotten’
  • Doling out advice for youth, the artist said: ‘It is very important to follow your heart, your ideas, without compromising’

BELGRADE: The boundary-pushing performance artist Marina Abramovic returned to Belgrade Saturday to inaugurate the final exhibition of a major touring retrospective, marking her first professional homecoming in nearly 50 years.
Dressed in black, the 72-year-old invited reporters to Belgrade’s Contemporary Art Museum at dawn for the “symbolic cleansing of her career.”
The retrospective, titled “The Cleaner,” exhibits more than 100 works from Abramovic’s past 50 years of provocative performances, many of which saw the artist put her own body on the line.
“You know for me it’s very emotional to be here, and it’s not easy, there’s lots of nostalgia, lots of memories that are forgotten,” she said of her return to the Serbian capital, a place she said shaped her outlook as an artist.
“I learned three things here: from my grandmother I learned spirituality … from my father I learned bravery, and from my mother willpower and discipline,” she said.
The exhibition, which has been touring Europe since 2017, features photo montages and video reels replaying many of Abramovic’s most daring works, including one where she laid out a table of 72 objects, among which figured scissors and a loaded gun, and invited spectators to use them on her “as desired.”
Another piece from 1997, titled Balkan Baroque, saw her sit and clean 1,000 beef bones while singing folk songs from her youth, earning her a Golden Lion award at the Venice Biennale.
Young Serbian artists also re-enacted some performances live on Saturday, including one in which a naked man and woman stand inside a doorway, forcing museum-goers to squeeze past their bodies.
Doling out advice for youth, the artist said: “It is very important to follow your heart, your ideas, without compromising.”
“To live for your art, which requires a lot of sacrifice,” she added.
At the start of the exhibition, Abramovic briefly sat down to re-enact a 2010 performance in New York named “The Artist is Present.”
That three-month-long piece saw her sit silently, without moving, for seven hours a day, six days a week, as visitors took turns sitting across her.
Asked if she would use her fame to bring more support to Serbian artists, Abramovic said:
“I am not a politician, but an artist, and I believe that this exhibit will show politicians that investing in culture will bring it to higher levels.”
The exhibit will be open in Belgrade until January 20, 2020.