Where does the name of come from?
heki is situated in north-west of the southern slope of the Greater Caucasus Mountains, 632 meters above sea level. It has plenty of water, normal balance of moisture, fertile soil and rich forest cover. Grey mountain forest, brown mountain forest, meadow forest, gray-brown soils are widespread. Forests of oak, beech, walnut trees are dominant. Rich in wildlife. Thanks to protection of charming nature, unique historical and architectural monuments, sophisticated craftsmanship, with a rich historical and cultural heritage Sheki has become an important tourism region of Azerbaijan.
The historical place of location of Sheki was noted Shaki, Shaka, Shakka and so on in the sources of Middle Ages. Sheki city was named Nuha for a long time. Name of Sheki associated with the name of Sak tribes moving through Derbeint passage of the northern coast of the Black Sea to South Caucasus, and then to Asia Minor in the seventh century BC. They occupied on the best soils in the South Caucasus and named these places Sakasena. Shaki was yet another area inhabited by Saks. Toponyms like Sakhalin peninsular in the Far East, Republic of Sakha in Siberia are trages of saks – ancestors of ancient turks. They were settled down on the best lands of Southern Caucasus, and called these lands Sakasena. Toponyms Sheki, Zagatala are changed form of “Sak” ethnonym. Sounds [s] and [sh] are interchangeable in Turkish languages. Azerbaijanis say “bash” (bash), “besh” (five), but kazakhs pro- nounce them as “bas” and “bes”. (This is the same in the other world languages. Compare: shaytan - satan). In fact, there are three cities with one and the same name. one of them – Saki, is in Crimea. The second shaki city in Azerbaijan is located in the south, in Zangazur region, which was the part of the territory of Azerbaijan till 20-ies of last century. At that time soviet Moscow has given Zangezur region, whole people of which are Azerbaijani Turks, to Soviet Armenia, under the pretext that territory of Armenia is too small. Sheki which was a trade center of Zangezur was declined, and in XX century became a township with a decreased number of population. After crash of Soviet Union population of Sheki in Zangezur became refugees and moved to Baku.
There are some information about Sheki in memoirs of Turkish historian and traveler of Middle Ages E.Cheleby. According to him, Sheki tower was built of a stones and is rising on the
hill. There were two gates – Shirvan and Ganja in the tower. Thousands of houses, seven mosques, several caravanserais – hotels, bath and small bazar, were in Sheki city. Silk manufacturing enterprises and extensive gardens, were located out of the Sheki tower walls.
As to Chelebi, there have lived 20 thousand people in 3 thousand houses. Famous French writer Alexandre Dumas travelled to Azerbaijan, first he visited Baku, then to the ancient Shemakha and Sheki. He was amazed of illustrious Khan Palace. When Russian army occupied Sheki in 1828, they destroyed Khan Palace.
Alexander Dumas wrote about guns in the hands of Azerbaijanis, falcon hunting, rams battle, melee of wrestlers (“Pehlevans”), described every place visited by him. Writer spoke about silkworm breeding which made Sheki famous in the whole world: “Main trade product of Sheki is silk. There is only one fabric and it is not weaving, but spinning one. This fabric is producing raw materials for six millions per year. The part of amazing trees, which covers city houses with shade, are mulberries. Their satin like leaves, feeds billions of cocoon worms. When 15 months before, three quarters of cocoon worms in Pyemon and Milan provinces of Italy were exterminated by the epidemic, several italian merchants came to Sheki to buy worm seeds. But they were refused to sell seeds. It was connected with rivalry”. According to information of year 2007, there live 62499 people in Sheki city.
The firs t plant comes to mind saying Shaki ...
Saying Sheki the first building came to mind is Sheki Khan Palace. The Palace of Sheki, is the main historical monument of not only Sheki, but Azerbaijan as a whole. Not surprisingly, the wellknown Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet walked around every inch of Sheki Khan Palace and said: “If there were not for the other ancient buildings, in Azerbaijan, it would be enough to show Khan Palace to the world.” Today, the Khan's palace is included in UNESCO's “World Heritage List”.
Khan's Palace was built in 1761, during the reign of Mohammed Hussein Khan the grandson of Haji Chalabi - the founder of Sheki Khanate. Khan Palace was used as a summer residence. Its length is 32, width 8 and height 8 meters, there were not used glue, nails and cement in the construction of the palace. Walls were brought up from slanting, burnt soil and eggs.
Two-storey house consist of 6 rooms, 4 and 2 mirrored hallway to the balcony. Building has 4 doors. The first room is waiting room for officers. Officials were waiting for before to be adopted by Khan.
The second room is reminiscent of the mod-
ern parliament, called “Divanhana” and there were given decisions, and orders.
The third room is chancellery. It had been done paperwork there. The thickness of the ceiling of the chancellery room thicker than others: 50-60 cm. This was so because ladies room is located on the second floor and, according to Muslim rules, men shouldn’t hear voices of women. On the other hand, the ceiling was insulated to ensure that women have not heard the state secrets.
The fourth room belonged to Khan’s wife. She received here her female guests; the ladies came from the other khanates, talked with them. It should be noted that Hussein Khan was the only khan who did not have harem. The Fifth Room is guest room. Huseyn khan who wrote poems under the pseudonym of The “Mustaq” organized literary parties here.
The last - sixth room is a private room of the khan. Ceiling of the court-house room does not have an analogue in the world. This ceiling has been created by passing 5524 little wooden pieces to each other. Ceiling has not been restored for 250 years.
The pictures drawn on the wall and ceiling is not painted by oil-colors. There were used tempera paints – made of detergents from the local dye plants, egg yolk, and vinegar. Artists have rubbed buttermilk to the plaster of the wall before drawing.
90 percent of everything in the palace is original. Only 10 percent of the building has been restored. of two platan khans rises in the encirclement of the historical pool in the yard of the palace. Both of the trees have been planted in 1530. The diameter of the body of 34 metres height tree is 11.5, but diameter of body of 42 metres height tree is 13.5 metres.
Albanian Temple in Kish
This temple is believed to have been founded I century AD and located in the village of Kish in Maflar block. Archaeological exploration has proved the structure of the temple foundation is in the form of cash or in-water part of the ship. Very strange but the Egyptian pyramids built on the same foundation. Upside of the hall adjacent to the tower covered by large grinding furrow stones. The walls of the tower has the nature to attract metallic money from 3 side. It explains by moisture, layer of paraffin sink to walls because of long time burnt candles and flow of air inside the tower.
Church, consisting of a single room contains interesting details of average pre-and post-construction. Kish temple was built of limestone. The inner part is dome-shade. Built-in double columns of the temple divides it into 2 parts, the eastern part is smaller than the western part. There is no writings on the walls of the temple. The church walls have protuberances in the form of horseshoe, and there are 2 deep holes. Sanctuary is located in the center and has rectangular form.
Sheki Tower - Naringala
Shaki Narinja tower is located in the northeastern part of the city, 710 meters from south to north 750 meters above sea level, in the picturesque area. The castle was built in the period of the founder of the first independent khanate in Azerbaijan - Shaki Khan Haji Chalabi (1743-1755). The total length of walls from the outside is 1300 meters. Taking into account the importance of the protection and landscape, the south tower is 8 meters high, and 4 meters down to the north. The thickness of wall up to 2.2 meters, increases sustainability and majesty of tower. Castle has 2 arched gates from South and North, towers, and there are more than 1000 mazgaları. The residence of Sheki khanate, “Khan Palace” is located in the east of the north tower.
Museum of Applied Arts
Museum of Applied Arts has been operating since 1985. The museum is located in the ancient Albanian temple. The plant called “Round house” among the people and is referred to the period of Caucasian Albania. There are demonstrating and providing information on famous Sheki arts, from ancient times since nowadays, well-known artists of the region, as well as works of art are displayed in the museum.
The museum consists of 4 exhibition halls. In the first hall are being displayed things found during archeological excavations in the region - clay vessels, jewelry found in the women and men graves, spear heads. In the second room,
pottery, carpentry, tekelduz coppering, “shebeke”, architecture, hatting, such as works of art on display. Samples of the women's and men's clothing, musical instruments, silkworm breeding are shown in the third room. The fourth hall called “Shaki room”, demonstrates interior of the Sheki house - shelves, niches, cushion, chest, face, wool, chargers and so on are organized the exposition. There are demonstrating more than 500 exhibits in the museum as a whole.
Every region of Azerbaijan has its own specific cuisine. One of the branches of national culinary is Sheki cuisine. Dishes and sweets including in this list distinguish with their delicious taste, high quality and directions. No one can resist famous Sheki piti (a kind of soup) and pakhlava which melts in the mouth. The smell of halva – symbol of Sheki hovers over the city. In the next issues we will talk about Sheki cuisine in details.
Pottery, tekelduz (handmade embroidery), hatting and other sorts of ancient folk art are widely developed in Sheki.
The most beautiful patterns of craftsmanship – knitted with colorful traceries – tekelduz is saved in Sheki till nowadays.
Tekelduz is knitting on the black velvet or on the wool tissue just by one hand. But embroidery style tapestry is embroidered on cotton tissue. This pattern of art demands a lot of time and fineness. Sometimes it takes 3 to 4 months, to finish an artwork. There are also silk yarns used in tapestry. Especially scull-caps, bags, pillow cases, tableclothes are being embroidered.
Along with tekelduz, foreign tourists visiting Sheki often buy shepherd's cap. Most of all tourists like white, black, silver caps sewed by master Agil Karimov. It should be noted that there were 650 masters of shepherd’s cap in Azerbaijan, 250 of which were in Sheki. But now there are just two masters of shepherd’s cap in Sheki.
Sheki is also famous for its funny stories not only in Azerbaijan, but in the whole world. We will publish examples of them in the next issues.