Shirin Melikova: "Exhibition at Museum of Oriental Art reveals soul of Azerbaijani people"

By Vestnik Kavkaza
Shirin Melikova: "Exhibition at Museum of Oriental Art reveals soul of Azerbaijani people"

The Moscow State Museum of Oriental Art has opened an exhibition titled 'Harmony of space. Traditional Art of Azerbaijan,' which will run until May 12. And this Saturday, director of the Azerbaijani Carpet Museum Shirin Melikova will give a lecture in the museum discussing 'the role of textiles in the traditional Azerbaijani interior.' Shirin Melikova told Vestnik Kavkaza about the next joint project of the Russian and Azerbaijani museums.

- Shirin Khanim, what project is represented in Moscow by your museum?

- Today is a very exciting day for us: we are opening our exhibition at the wonderful halls of one of Russia's oldest museums, at the Museum of Oriental Art, which has a special linkage with Azerbaijan. The first exhibit of the Museum of Oriental Art was the Azerbaijan Bahmanli carpet, which is also on display now.

This exhibition reveals the soul of our people, shows the idea of beauty and harmony. It features more than 100 exhibits from two museums' collections - the world's first Carpet Museum in Baku and the Museum of Oriental Art. From Baku we brought the embroideries of amazing beauty: wall panels, national costumes, accessories and incredibly beautiful silk headscarves kelaghayi, which still remain an integral part of an Azerbaijani woman's wardrobe. The Museum of Oriental Art displays Azerbaijani carpets, metal objects and jewelry at this exhibition. I think that the exhibition is very bright and colorful. It shows special comfort and beauty of traditional Azerbaijani interior, so welcome to the Azerbaijani house. The most important thing in our house are guests.

- One can say the exhibition has a woman's face, since most of the work was done by women. Do you have women's clothing?

- Of course. The men's clothing was practically not decorated, unlike the women's clothing. All the beauty and family wealth were reflected in the dress and the woman's appearance. The exhibition has several themes. One of them is a traditional wedding. We display the dress of the Azerbaijani bride, the interior, decorations at the house where the bride comes. Red is required here as the color of protection, as the color of new life, of light warm energy. That's why the bride's dress and accessories should have red accents.

A small fragment of the interior with a carpet chest for the bride’s dowry is displayed. The mall items embroidered in gold by girls are presented in the amazingly beautiful window. These are obligatory household elements that a young girl should give to her fiance. One of the very interesting exhibits, which is always arouse great interest among the audience, is the mustache protector. What can it be used for? In order to protect an eastern man's lush mustache during sleep.

Everything should be made by the bride herself. Her character, her understanding of beauty, her taste and patience were determined by how harmonious, neat, beautiful her embroidery and carpets are. These are the necessary qualities of a future wife.

- You have a curious exhibit - the ambassadorial tablecloth. What it is?

- We have four tablecloths, and two of them are from the Museum of Oriental Art. These chain stitch embroidered tablecloth were given to ambassadors. These were valuable gifts that were often custom-built by special workshops. There were various workshops in Sheki specializing in certain embroideries. Tambour embroideries were made by men. Traditional embroidery was one of the exports, as were carpets. That's why there are so many of them in Russia, among other places. They were also given to ambassadors, distinguished guests.