Shabaka, traditional Azerbaijani stained glass technique – AZERTAC

Baku, March 31, AZERTAC

The stained glass windows known as “Sebeke/Shabaka” are windows filled with colored glass, created by Azerbaijani national masters from small wooden pieces without glue or nails.

On the territory of Azerbaijan, Shabaka as an art form was widespread in such cities as Sheki, Shusha, Ordubad, Baku, Ganja, Lankaran, Nakhchivan and Derbent (Russian Federation). A classic example of this art form is the Sheki Khans Palace. These stained glass windows are the particularity of the architecture of the palace. The geometric patterns of the shabaka windows harmonize with the general composition of the facade of the palace.

Shabaka is an intangible cultural heritage that has a constructive artistic form in Middle Eastern architecture and in decorative arts and crafts. It has been used in the architecture of Azerbaijan since the 11th-12th centuries. A masterpiece of decorative art is the flatness consisting of small pieces of glass assembled by the master with wooden elements that are fixed without glue or nails. The main “secret” of this art is the transfer of wooden parts with a rim and an indentation, between which small pieces of glass are inserted. Parts of the shaft are made from solid wood species – boxwood, walnut, beech and oak. Shabaka designs, meaning lattice, symbolize the Sun, the energy of life, the eternal flow of time and the infinity of the universe.

The dimensions of the surface of the Shabaka can vary from a few square centimeters to several square meters, depending on the functional destination of the objects. Since the basis of the ornament consists of more precise geometric figures, there is another classification according to the compositions: “jafari”, “sekkiz”, “onalty”, “gullyabi”, “shamsi”, “gelu”, and also ” bendi rumi”.

The bearers of Shabaka art and its symbols are folk masters. Famous folk craftsmen include Mehdi Mehdiyev (19th century), Shahbuzla Abuzer Badalov (18th-19th centuries), Abbasgulu Sheki (19th century). The revival of this art in the 20th century was facilitated by Abdulhuseyn Babayev (1877-1961), Ashraf Rasulov (1928-1997).

Currently, the development of art is promoted by Ashraf Rasulov’s son Tofig (1961) and grandson Ilgar (1990). Also, Soltan Ismayilov and Huseyn Mustafazade (Sheki), Jabir Jabbarov (Ordubad), Rafig Allahverdiyev (Shusha) stand out in this area.

The word “Shabaka”, in translation from the Azerbaijani language, means “net”, “lattice”.

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