ON SOME PECULIARITIES OF TALYSH DECORATIVE- APPLIED ART
- 21-05-2023, 21:06
Nurangiz Ali Kerimova, Baku Slavic University, Republic of Azerbaijan
ON SOME PECULIARITIES OF TALYSH DECORATIVE- APPLIED ART
Key words: Talysh, decorative-applied art, carpet-making, ornament, zoomorphic and anthropomorphic motifs, household and ritual ceramics.
Talysh is one of most interesting ethnic groups, inhabited the Southern part of Azerbaijan. In historical and ethnographic sources about Talysh people quite different, sometimes even contradictive opinions exist. Well-known scientist Ahmad Kasrari wrote, that in ancient Greek sources the peoples, settled in Iran are listed, but Talyshes are not mentioned among them. Talyshes became known after Arabian scientists’ works, it was Ahmad Kasrari made attempt to retrace transformation of ethnonym “kadus” or “tallish” (talesh). (4, 283-288).
Outstanding Russian scientist, academician V.V. Bartold also wrote, that in early sources Talyshes were not mentioned. So, V.V. Bartold wrote, that “ in Iran, in Lankaran district, to the North from gilan tribes “tallish” tribes live. They are close to gilans and the name “tallish” wasn’t known in midcentury period.” (5, 273).
In Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary (published at the end of XIX- beginning of XX century) the Talyshes are mentioned as the tribe of Iranian genesis. They settles the territory called Talysh and speak special language, similar to Persian language. (8, 237). According information, published in “Alphabet list of peoples, living in Russian empire” (1886), Talyshes, lived in southern part of Lankaran district of Baku province, the number of Talysh population was 50 150. (9, 68). The first all-Russian general census of population carried out in 1897 registered 35 291 citizens, speaking Talysh language. (10, 91). According results of that census of population Talyshes made up 1,9 % of Azerbaijan inhabitant. (11, 9).
According information, given by N.K. Zeydlitz, Talyshes formed half of Lankaran district population (43, 33% Talyshes and 44, 20% Azerbaijanis) (12,53). At the end of XIX- beginning of XX century Talyshes saved the signs of tribal division. (13, 194). D.A. Kistenev studied demographic situation in Lankaran district of Azerbaijan, presented names of five groups of Talyshes: Talyshes, Pornaims, Alars, Oratlins and Zuvands. (4,27). But, to our mind, it would be more reasonable to present short review from Wikipedia.(2, 39). In Wikipedia about ethno-genesis and history of Talyshes very interesting information is given. E.g. B.V. Miller thinks “the word “tallish” means the name of one of most ancient inhabitant of these place”. (2,17).
In second half of XV century the owners of Talysh khanat supported Sefevids in the war, in which Gizilbashes fought with Shirvanshakhs and sultans of Ag-Goyunlu state. That’s why Talyshes were included in unit of Gizilbash tribes. Talyshes were the only Persian speaking and non-nomadic people among Gizibashes, and were considered as “special” tribe with specific traditions. (9, 31). So, Gilan province was inhabited by Talyshes and Gizilbashes and in politics and economic it was connected with internal Iran very little. The researches, carried out in soviet period of the XX century among the Talyshes proved once again that the Talyshes differ from other ethnic groups living in Azerbaijan by their courage and skills. This peculiarity is seen most obviously in Talysh decorative-applied art.
The high level of development of the culture of the Talysh people is notable for its diversity. That diversity is seen in quite different artifacts , such as household and ritual ceramics, weapons, jewelry, stamp-amulets (stamp-amulets from ancient times combined the function of an ornament-amulet with a sign of ownership and also had utilitarian value.) An analysis of the decoration of ceramic products and motifs used in the compositions of metal amulets and talismans indicates that, objects of applied art, except traditional ornaments also contain a group of geometric, floral , anthropomorphic and zoomorphic motifs, inclusions, pictorial quotes in the form of figures of fantastic and hybrid creatures, animals and plants, non-typical for the region, and others.
In this region for many centuries, in the décor of applied art objects the dominant place was occupied by solar and astral symbols. These symbols existed simultaneously with images of totem animals of the local substrate (goat, snake, etc.). Afterwards, these symbols began to be pictured along with pictograms and epigraphy. In this connection interesting fact should be pointed out. This fact is the using of foreign figurative elements in combination with regional symbols in compositions, which were created basing on the local graphic texture, namely in the decor of applied arts. These elements are characterized by the use of graphic symbols without penetrating into the “meaning” of borrowed characters. This feature is seen most clearly in the decor and ornamentation of ceramic products and carpets.
The Talysh people created many-sided and comprehended culture in various spheres of handicrafts. Among them, woodworking, carpet weaving, metalworking, pottery and mat making were developed most highly at all times. Materials about different branches of handicraft production prove that the Talysh craftsmen have accumulated rich experience and empirical knowledge in this sphere. E.g. numerous ceramic kilns found by archaeologists in Lankaran and other regions of Talysh let suggest that most part of the ceramic products found during excavations, carried out in the area under consideration are products of local craftsmen. Samples of highly artistic stone carving, peculiar for the Qajar period in the region under consideration, have been preserved in the form of tombstones. Tombstones, animal sculptures, as well as earlier samples of this art, are decorated with geometric and floral ornaments. The epigraphy performed by talented calligraphers, along with plot images reflected the most important episodes from the life of the buried.
The history of carpet art in the Talysh region also engendered very early. Talysh carpets are exhibited in many famous public museums and galleries, such as the Hermitage in Saint-Petersburg, , the Museum of History, the Museum of the Peoples of the East, The Armory Museum in Moscow, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, in Victoria and Albert Museum in London, in the Louvre in Paris, in Tehran and Isfahan carpet museums, in the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul and many others. Very interesting samples of Talysh carpets are kept also in private collections. They are carefully kept also in other museums in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg, Kyiv, Tashkent, Tbilisi.
Тalysh carpets passed through four stages of development: at first felt carpets appeared, then pileless carpets (palases), and even later zili, verni and sumakhs began to be woven. Finally, the last stage of carpet-weaving was connected with creating of complex ornamental pile carpets. In particular, in the houses of wealthy Talyshes, traditionally the carpet sets -(dasts) were used, they consisted of 4 carpets of three standard sizes. In the set two “kenare”, one “kelleyi” and one “khali” was included. Talysh pile carpets have been woven for centuries by means of two forms of knotting technique – “gullabi” (turkbab) and “dolama” (farsbab) As for carpet compositions kinds, their number is really unlimited.
In some cases a rich and complex composition was widespread within the boundaries of one village, city or ethnic group where these carpets were woven. These compositions were traditionally passed down from generation to generation and were considered as a valuable heritage. Carpets containing "quotes" from architectural monuments, (both Islamic and Christian), are also widely known. In ornamental motifs of such carpets many elements of architectural structures - arches and portals, columns and domes, windows and hanging lamps (gandil) are included.
The high density of carpet tie-knots is distinctive feature of the Talysh pile carpet. In some carpets the famous architectural monuments of the East, the shrines of the Muslim world are pictured (certainly, they are depicted schematically). In the structure of decorative compositions of small prayer rugs (namazlig), usually some architectural detail, e.g. a mihrab (a niche of the mosque altar) is included. The prosperity period of Talysh carpets in Qajar period is illustrated most fully by specimens from the collections of museums in Baku (State Museum of Azerbaijani Carpet and Folk Applied Arts named after Latif Karimov), in Zurich (Rietberg museum), in Glasgow (The Burell Collection), in Washington (Textile Museum), New York (Metropolitan Museum of Art), Istanbul (Top-Kapi Museum), Moscow (Museum of Oriental Art), Kyiv (Museum of Oriental and Western Art), and many others.
As it’s known, in Azerbaijan Talyshes were busy by other kinds of weaving. So, they wove “jejims” (handmade woolen fabric), and passed its secrets to Azerbaijanis, wove traditional “jorabs” (socks). Besides, Talyshes were busy by making of floor-mats from most ancient time and were always skilful masters in this sphere.
It should be pointed, that in Midcentury period in Azerbaijan two kinds of floor –mats existed. These floor-mats differed from each other by their technique and artistic design. The first type was called “buriya”, second one was called “hesir”. Buriya was the simplest kind of floor mats. It’s ornament consisted of wide diagonal stripes, these stripes remind design of parquet. In Masalli, Lankaran, and Astara regions of Azerbaijan in houses with clay floor buriya and hesir are spread under carpets in order to protect them from dampness. In old time those inexpensive articles were widely used in everyday life of simple people.
In midcentury Azerbaijani poetry floor-mat “buriya” is mentioned very often. The floor-mat buriya became a part of literary character and it characterizes the type of hypocrite and dissembler, who covers up his real matter by buriya- symbol of poverty.
Talyshes use basses for making different things of everyday life, e.g. big and small baskets -“zanbul”(Tal.), closed baskets, scales (“terezi”-Azerb, “tavzi”,Tal.), hats with wide brims for working under sun-(“lik papag”-Azerb., “piknakolo”-Tal.), table-mats or stands for saucepan (“gazanalti”-Azerb., “sife”-Tal), mat for handmill (“kirkire”- Azerb., “dasor”-Tal.), square table-cloth for newly baked bread (“sufre” –Azerb., “sife”-Tal.) and many other things.
The “hesir” is also very interesting kind of hand-made article of daily use. Hesir can be simple and figure. Both simple and figure hesirs look similar at first look, but craftsmen created very interesting hesirs, they differed from each other both by their compositions and design. Homogeneity of material didn’t prevent creating quite different patterns. In works of different masters, living in separate villages one can see very interesting and quite different versions of hesir compositions. It demonstrates creative approach of weavers to hesir making.
At the beginning of XX century and later- in soviet period the Talysh region was known for felt, silk fabrics, for production of national clothes and shoes, silk and gold embroidery. In Talysh region the production of glazed ceramics, the production of toreutic, engraved copper utensils, jewelry, wood and stone carving and many other crafts were very popular. The samples of decorative-applied arts of Talysh people in this region, namely the articles, dating back to the II half of the XVIII and I half of the XIX centuries, adorn the collections of many museums all over the world.
Since the middle of the XIX century, among the Talyshes the art of embroidery by tambour stitch (“tekelduz”) and golden embroidery (“gulabatin”) had particularly flourished. It should be noted, that in differ from carpet-making, the embroidery craft (alike in the North Caucasus and Central Asia) was the prerogative of the male population of the region. The clothes, skullcaps, shoes, rugs and all kinds of small household items- e.g. cases for the Koran, for combs and watches, tobacco pouches, etc. were decorated with gold embroidery. For gold embroidery as a rule smooth velvet of burgundy, purple and green color was used as main material. Sometimes embroideries were made on satin or other fabrics with factory-made gold threads. In the decor widespread traditional symbols were used and they were combined with local peculiarities. Outdoor clothes were also decorated with embroidery, fur, golden lace, gold and silver jewelry or silver coins. The golden and silver beads, buttons, stylized as large grains of barley, threading coins, lace pendants, chains, etc. were especially popular in this region. European and Russian travelers repeatedly mentioned the beautiful clothes of Talysh women in their descriptions of this region. (11, 57)
Talysh jewelleries were distinguished by their diversity and were made mainly of gold. As for everyday belts or buckles for leather belts, and other things of such kind, they were made mainly from silver. Golden products had always been in great demand, and therefore the jewelry workshops made up whole rows of famous bazaars. The jewelers decorated weapons and armor too. In general, the daggers were an obligatory attribute of a man's suit.
The production of highly artistic chased (casting is less common) copper and brass utensils is sharply reduced by the middle of the XIX century. This process took place most likely due to increased competition with imported Russian-made industrial goods and the historically inevitable change in the lifestyle of the population. The survived samples of copper (tin-plated) dishes of the late XVIII -early XIX centuries impress with the elegance of form, the refinement of the decorative finishing. Sometimes, epigraphy, containing quotations from the Koran, the most popular prayers, verses of Persian poets, well-wishing maxims were used as decoration. In particular cases, in the carpet the name of the carpet-weaver and the date of manufacture, less often - the name of the customer was fixed.
It should be noted that such utensils have entered the everyday life of the peoples of the region under consideration both as a substitute for expensive silver utensils and as its more democratic alternative. At the same time, it should be noted that the availability and cheapness of these products was achieved by replacing expensive metals with cheaper metal alloys, but by no means by reducing aesthetic indicators. Talysh craftsmen sometimes repeated in metal the forms and decor of expensive Oriental, European and Russian dishes made of porcelain, faience and ceramics, being in circulation in the market. Among them are buckets, “satil” dishes, ritual jugs with basins and jugs for transferring and storing water ( “gyum”, “syakhang”), a vessel for rose oil (“gulabdan”), and other vessels should be noted particularly.
The production of daggers was stimulated due to their demand both for their direct appointment and as a necessary addition to the men’s clothes. In the Museum of the History of the Republic of Azerbaijan a rich collection of arms is kept. Among them the products of Talysh craftsmen - swords and daggers with expensive blades and highly artistic scabbards, guns and pistols inlaid with gold and mother-of-pearl are of particular interest. Among collectors the weapons of the Qajar period of the early XIX century, made by craftsmen of different ethnic groups of the Caspian region, including Talyshes are especially highly valued. (11, 73)
The representatives of all estates turned to craftsmen of artistic woodworking, because the vast majority of a wide range of household items, (such as small boxes for storing of Koran, carved spoons for pouring sherbet, the combs, window shutters, shebeke, carved doors, etc.) was accessible for most part of inhabitant. The proficients, who produced musical instruments and trunks, formed a separate large group of craftsmen. The high artistic level of the Talysh wood carvers is confirmed by samples of this type of Talysh applied art, kept both in museums and private collections.
The beginning of systematic and programmatic accumulation and study of materials on the ethnography and culture of the Talysh ethnos, and the initial information about the applied art of the Talysh is connected with the activity of archaeological excavations and ethnographic investigations, carried out in the late XIX - early XX centuries undertaken by the tsarist government in order to collect information about the composition of the inhabitant in Southern territories of the Russian state. (7, 49) Later, namely in soviet period those studies were continued.
As its seen, the objective necessity for further study and systematization of all components of the Talysh cultural space is quite evident and the researches in this sphere should be continued and developed.
In the article the Talysh national culture, peculiarities of its decorative-applied art is spoken about. The author dwells on some serious issues, connected with history of Talysh people and peculiarities of Talysh language, on the history of study of Talysh culture and decorative-applied art. Its pointed out, that decorative- applied art of Talysh people is very rich and original, quite inimitative. The author enumerates the world museums, in which the samples of Talysh decorative-applied art are exhibited. The author also pointed out the spheres of handicrafts, in which Talysh craftsmen stood out. So, Talysh craftsmen were brilliant proficient in carpet-weaving (including pile and pileless carpets, hesirs and buriya), in decorating of swords and daggers, in embroidery, wood-carving, stone-carving and many others. Besides, the Talysh traditions in other spheres of art are mentioned also. E.g. the everyday dishes, articles, made from clay, various items and utensils of everyday and ritual purpose, artistic ceramics are mentioned in the article also. The author points out that all items, made by Talysh craftsmen were always in great demand, but large-scale producing of such things didn’t mean the degradation of their quali usety. Talyshes were jewelleries of highest level and they created very interesting products, real masterpieces. Its not occasional, that samples of Talysh decorative-applied art are considered as very interesting cultural phenomenon. So, the materials, got while archeological excavations, their comparison with modern products, prove that rich traditions of Talysh decorative-applied art are saved, are continued nowadays and enriched by new achievements.
В статье говорится об истории талышского народа, особенностях языка, характерных особенностях талышского декоративно-прикладного искусства. Талышские мастера, ремесленники во все времена славились своим искусством, это подтверждается многочисленными интересными находками, обнаруженными в результате археологических раскопок. Мастера –талыши проявляли свое искусство в самых разных сферах декоративно-прикладного искусства- в ковроткачестве, вышивке, ювелирном искусстве, декорировании одежды, украшении оружия, художественной керамике , производстве посуды, и самых различных предметов быта. В статье также подчеркивается, что даже повседневная утварь, созданная талышскими мастерами, отличалась высоким художественным уровнем и отражала особенности быта талышского народа. В связи с ковроткачеством в статье приводятся виды ворсовых и безворсовых ковров, которые талышские мастера ткали веками, а также упоминаются другие изделия- циновки, хесиры, бурия, раскрываются особенности их изготовления, их утилитарное назначение. В статье автор особенно подробно останавливается на других видах декоративно-прикладного искусства, таких как резьба по камню, резьба по дереву, ювелирное искусство. В статье подчеркивается, что талышские мастера с большим умением сочетали в производимых предметах художественные достоинства с удобством их бытового использования. Талышские мастера во все времена славились своими изделиями из золота и драгоценных камней и ювелирное искусство талышей, созданные ими украшения-кольца, серьги, подвески, браслеты- всегда ценились очень высоко. Кроме того, талышские мастера прославились своим умением украшать оружие, что также считалось высоким искусством. В целом, талышские мастера создали множество интереснейших образцов декоративно-прикладного искусства и созданные ими различные предметы- ковры, оружие, ювелирные украшения- хранятся в настоящее время во многих знаменитых музеях мира. В настоящее время талышский продолжает свои национальные культурные традиции, обогащает их.
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