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The creator of the first carpet museum in the world, a native of Shusha: Latif Kerimov

Qarabag.com presents material about the founder of the modern Azerbaijani school of carpet art and the first pioneer of carpet weaving production in Azerbaijan, a native of Shusha – Latif Kerimov.


Azerbaijani artist of decorative and applied arts, ornamentalist-artist, carpet expert and pedagogue Latif Huseyn oglu Kerimov was born on November 17 (4), 1906 in the city of Shusha. Latif Kerimov is one of the first artists who combined ornament with portrait and pictorial images in Azerbaijani carpets. He learned the basics of carpet weaving from his mother.
[The artists of the peoples of the USSR. Bibliographic dictionary. Volume four. Book two. 1995, p. 397]
[Ch.Kajar. Old Shusha. 2007, p. 145]
[R. Taghieva. The phenomenon of Latif Kerimov. 2006, p. 64]
[Azerbaijan Soviet Encyclopedia. Vol. V, 1981, p. 354]

In 1912, Latif, together with his parents, was forced to move to the city of Mashhad (Iran) for domestic reasons. Here, they lived in the quarter of immigrants from Shusha. After graduating from elementary school in Mashhad, Latif worked in a carpet weaving workshop, where he wove carpets and made cheshes (drawings) for new carpets. In 1924-1928, Latif Kerimov studied at the miniature school of the Iranian artist Huseyn Behzad in Tabriz and Tehran. In 1926-1929 he studied at the Historical Faculty of the University of Tehran, which he did not graduate from.
[R. Taghieva. The phenomenon of Latif Kerimov. 2006, p. 64, 67]
[The artists of the peoples of the USSR. Bibliographic dictionary. Volume four. Book two. 1995, p. 397]

In 1929, Latif Kerimov returned to Azerbaijan. Approximately from 1930 until the end of his life, he worked as an art and technical director of the association “Azerkhalcha”. Under his leadership, the carpets “Khanlig” (1930-1932), “Afshan” (1932), ”Gonakhkend” (1939), “Hamse” (1940-1941 – five carpets that were woven inspired by the works of the Azerbaijani poet Nizami Ganjavi), “Lechek-Turunj” (1952), “Shusha” (1953),“Goy Gol” (1958) “Karabakh” (1960), ”Shabi Hijran” (1958\1975), etc. were woven. Also, portrait carpets of prominent figures of Azerbaijan were created by him: architect Ajami Nakhichevani; playwright Jafar Jabbarli; academician Yusif Mammadaliyev; poets Imadeddin Nasimi, Muhammad Fuzuli, Molla Panah Vagif, Huseyn Javid, Samad Vurgun, etc. His carpet dedicated to Ajami Nakhichevan is kept in the collection of the UNESCO permanent exhibition in Paris (France).
[R. Taghieva. The phenomenon of Latif Kerimov. 2006, pp. 71, 77, 87]
[K.Kerimov. Latif Kerimov – the people’s artist of Azerbaijan SSR. 1983., p. 26]
[The artists of the peoples of the USSR. Bibliographic dictionary. Volume four. Book two. 1995, p. 397]
[Azerbaijan Soviet Encyclopedia. Vol. V, 1981, p. 354]
[The Honorary Cemetery. 2007., p. 109]

In 1937-1939, Latif Kerimov participated in the decorative design of the Azerbaijan pavilion at the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition (now the Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy) in Moscow and in 1940-1941 in the design of the Museum of Azerbaijani Literature in Baku.
[R. Taghieva. The phenomenon of Latif Kerimov. 2006, p. 92]
[K.Kerimov. Latif Kerimov – the people’s artist of Azerbaijan SSR. 1983., p. 20-21]
[The artists of the peoples of the USSR. Bibliographic dictionary. Volume four. Book two. 1995, p. 397]

In 1950 Latif Kerimov was awarded the USSR State Prize. In the same year he was awarded the title of Candidate of Art History for his great research and practical work in the field of applied art. In 1955 (1957), Latif Kerimov was awarded the title of Honored Artist and in 1960 the title of People’s Artist of the Azerbaijan SSR.
[Azerbaijan Soviet Encyclopedia. Vol. V, 1981, p. 354]
[The artists of the peoples of the USSR. Bibliographic dictionary. Volume four. Book two. 1995, p. 398]
[K.Kerimov. Latif Kerimov – the people’s artist of Azerbaijan SSR. 1983., p. 36]
[R. Taghieva. The phenomenon of Latif Kerimov. 2006, p. 96]
[F.Shushinski. Shusha. 1968, p. 132]

Kerimov’s works were exhibited at world exhibitions in Paris (France) 1936\1937, in New York (USA) in 1938, in Brussels (Belgium) in 1958, in the German Democratic Republic (now Germany) in 1973, in Tbilisi (Georgia) in 1978, and in London (England) 1986. On June 9, 1954, the first personal exhibition of Latif Kerimov opened in Moscow. It was the first exhibition dedicated to the carpet in the Soviet Union.
[The artists of the peoples of the USSR. Bibliographic dictionary. Volume four. Book two. 1995, p. 397-398]
[R. Taghieva. The phenomenon of Latif Kerimov. 2006, p. 80,89]
[F.Shushinski. Shusha. 1968, p. 131]
[K.Kerimov. Latif Kerimov – the people’s artist of Azerbaijan SSR. 1983., p. 28]

Latif Kerimov is the author of the book “The Azerbaijani Carpet” (the first volume was published in 1961, and the subsequent ones in 1983), which has become a handbook for art historians and museum workers in many countries of the world. For example, the director of the Budapest Museum of Applied Arts (Hungary), Karol Gamboš, wrote to Kerimov: “Your book has become the Bible in our museum. It is very popular among our Hungarian specialists.”
[Ch.Gajar. Old Shusha. 2007, p. 145]
[R. Taghieva. The phenomenon of Latif Kerimov. 2006, p. 92]
[K.Kerimov. Latif Kerimov – the people’s artist of Azerbaijan SSR. 1983., p.32-33]

The book of 1984 “Latif Kerimov-People’s Artist of the Azerbaijan SSR” states:
“With the “Azerbaijani carpet” monograph Latif Kerimov proved that many carpets that were known up to that time as “Caucasian” and “Iranian” belong to the Azerbaijani carpet group. “These homeless carpets have received their new passports, found their homeland and became Azerbaijani carpets”.
[K.Kerimov. Latif Kerimov – the people’s artist of Azerbaijan SSR. 1983., p. 33]

In the book “Azerbaijani carpet” about 1300 different elements of carpet ornaments were systematized and studied. It played a key role in publishing maps of Oriental carpet points in London in 1974. The chief consultant of this map was Latif Kerimov.
[R. Taghieva. The phenomenon of Latif Kerimov. 2006, p. 80; 93]
[K.Kerimov. Latif Kerimov – the people’s artist of Azerbaijan SSR. 1983., p. 31]

Latif Kerimov opened 7 schools of Azerbaijani carpets: in Karabakh, Guba, Shirvan, Ganja, Kazakh, Baku and Tabriz.
[R. Taghieva. The phenomenon of Latif Kerimov. 2006, p. 80]

In 1967, on the initiative of Latif Kerimov, the world’s first State Carpet Museum was established (now, the Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum in Baku). Kerimov was also his leading scientific consultant.
[R. Taghieva. The phenomenon of Latif Kerimov. 2006, p. 93]
[K.Kerimov. Latif Kerimov – the people’s artist of Azerbaijan SSR. 1983., p. 35]

Azerbaijani art critic, academician Abdul Vahab Salamzade described the personality of Latif Kerimov as follows: “After his explanations, unusual elements of carpet art become a clearly readable book, and for that, one need to have the talent of an ornamentalist, ethnographer, historian and art critic – Latif Kerimov combines all these qualities.”
[R.Taghieva. The phenomenon of Latif Kerimov. 2006, p. 77]

Latif Kerimov was the main initiator and founder of the international symposiums on oriental carpets, which UNESCO held in Baku in the 1980s.
[R. Taghieva. The phenomenon of Latif Kerimov. 2006, p. 92]

In 1945, Latif Kerimov was appointed as a head of the Laboratory of Decorative and Applied Arts, and in 1983 he became a head of the Department of Carpet Art of the Institute of Architecture and Art of the Academy of Sciences of the Azerbaijan SSR.
[The artists of the peoples of the USSR. Bibliographic dictionary. Volume four. Book two. 1995, p. 398]

In various years Latif Kerimov taught at the College of Arts at the Azerbaijan State Academy of Arts, Baku State University and the Azerbaijan State University of Culture and Arts. He was a member of the Scientific Council of the National Museum of History of Azerbaijan and the Nizami Ganjavi Museum of Azerbaijani Literature.
[The artists of the peoples of the USSR. Bibliographic dictionary. Volume four. Book two. 1995, p. 398]
[K.Kerimov. Latif Kerimov – the people’s artist of Azerbaijan SSR. 1983., p. 34-36]

Latif Kerimov was one of the few artists who simultaneously engaged in practical and theoretical activities in the field of art. Azerbaijani art critic Mursal Najafov noted: “It is an uncommon thing when you can meet a person who creates art and art history.”
[K.Kerimov. Latif Kerimov – the people’s artist of Azerbaijan SSR. 1983., p. 29]

In the book “The Phenomenon of Latif Kerimov” (2006), it is noted that Latif Kerimov died on September 8, 1991. However, on the tombstone of the artist’s grave (in the alley of honor in Baku), the date of death is indicated as September 9.
[R. Taghieva. The phenomenon of Latif Kerimov. 2006, p. 89]
[The Honorary Cemetery. 2007., p. 109]