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The culture of Azerbaijan in the period of the Caliphate supremacy

The improvement of socio-economic relations and the increase of producing power assisted to the development of culture of Azerbaijan in 8th-10th centuries. In this period the culture of Azerbaijan nation developed on the ground of “Arabic-muslim culture”, which property concerned to the 8th-10th centuries. The fact of the unit of many states and nations in the frame of Caliphate influenced to the spiritual development of society, as well as assisted to the mutual influence,  mutual activity and cultural enrichment of nations. The influence of cultural enrichment of nations, converted to Islam made conditions to the creation of common features in all spheres of culture: in literature, philosophy, science, art, music. This was explained firstly, with great provision for the approach of various nations from different economic, political and spiritual life.

Medieval “Arabic-muslim culture” was the result of material and spiritual creation of lots of nations settled in Caliphate, as well as Azerbaijanis. Regardence of various tribes and nations to general- muslim culture did not deprive them from their own originality. In Azerbaijan there were opened schools in the context of coincil mesjids (“djame”) of big cities in the end of the 7th century, where only the children of rich families could study-they were thought initially in Arabic, then in Persian languages. Children studied history, geography, astronomy, mathematics and medicine sciences along with grammar of Arabic language, disciplines and shariat.

Science. There was mentioned in this chapter that, after the conquest of Azerbaijan by Arabs, there began islamization of population, there was adopted Arabic writing and there were created first poetry creations of Azerbaijanis in Arabic language. Despite the weakening and collapse of Caliphate authority in Azerbaijan and the establishment of little, local state formations, the creations of Azerbaijani scientists, phylosophists and poets continued to increase in Arabic language.

Knowledge of Arabic language, as well as latin language which played an important role in the medieval Europe at that time gave change to the scientists, poets and masters of applied art of Azerbaijan to get acquianted with the high achievements of science and culture of all muslim world, opened opportunities to learn the prominent and significant scientist and artistic works, created by chinese, indian, Iranian (pehlevid), Syrian and antique authors. Moreover, this was certainly, rich heritage. For instance, Arabs learnt decimal system of counting, numbers, including zero from Indians. They obtained compass, paper and gunpowder from China. The didactics book of indians-“Kalila and Dimna”, “The book of tsars” (“Khodjay-name”), “Mazdak”, “Old book” (“Ayna-name”), artististic-didactic creation of “Shahrizada and Parviz” were translated from pehlevid language into arabic. The medecine work of “Names of medicine and remedy plants”, tractate of “Siddkhanta”, which was about the moving of planets with astronomic grids were translated from Indian into Arabic language.

Neverthless, the majorost service of the translaters was the interpretation of works of antique authors from greek into Arabic language. The works of Evclid, Ptolomeus and other hellinistic scientists, translations in arabic language assisted to the improvement of precise sciences all over the muslim world. The works and the names of Halen and Hippocratus were much more famous in the medicine too.

The names of Aristotal and Platon were reminded with respect also in muslim world.

Free knowledge of arabic language provided nonarabic scientists– philosophers, poets to create their works in this language; because of that they became the succeed of all muslim world. The scientists of big cities of Azerbaijan also participated in this creative work. Due to get knowledge, Azerbaijanis went to study in such cultural centres of Arabic East, as Baghdad, Kufa, Basra, Damascus, Caire and other towns.

Scientific and cultural relations assisted to the development of mathematics, astronomy, geography, medicine, philosophy, logic, music, i.e. the sciences, related with daily demands and trade-economic relations of a man in Azerbaijan along with whole Muslim East.

There were existed the valuable facts about scientists and thinkers of Azerbaijan, who created their works in Arabic and conducted significant scientific and pedogocical activity not only in Azerbaijan, but also in other scientific and cultural centres of Muslim world.

Among them, we should mention the name of Isa-ar-Raki Tiflisi (10th century), the author of “Tibbi” (“Medicine”). There are plenty of information about humanitarian sciences, first of all authorized people in the sphere of “fight”(i.e. law) in different sources and literature. Among them, Abul-Hasan-Berdai (9th century), Ahmend Berdai (died in 914), Abdulmalik Hunadji (died in 935), Mekki Berdai (died in 965), Jafar Maraghi (889-967),Abumuhammed Ardebili (died in 953/54), Musa Salmasi (died in 990), Abdulhasan Ardebili and Ahmed ibn Suleiman Tabrizi (10th century), Abuturab al- Maraghi (died in 1025/26), Abubekr al Shirvani, Hussein Berdai (died in 1029), Abu Bekr al- Maraghi (10th century), Jafar Ardebili (10th century), Amineddin Tabrizi and others were much more prominent.

One of the mainest ideologists and propagandists, lived in Caliphate was originally Azerbaijanian, Abdulhasan ibn Harun az- Zenjani. He was from the society of “Brothers of purity”, which was the secret society and played a great role in the development of early medieval scientific-philosophic thought in the country. Prominent scientists of that time, Yakub al-Kindi and Abunar al-Farabi were also included to this society.

Muhammed Ali Bakui (was born in 948) and Abu-Bekr Muhammed ibn Ali Maraghi were the prominent representatives of philosophic thoughts of Azerbaijan who wrote their creations in Arabic language. Maragha, where the residence of Arabic governor was located, became the biggest centre of science and theology at that time. Fakhraddin Omar Razi and philosopher Shihabaddin as-Sukhraverdi who become well-known in all over the Middle East also studied here, under the protection of the prominent philosopher Sheykh Madcaddin ad-Cili. Shihabaddin as-Sukhraverdi was the author of 49 books, where he developed pholosophist thought of lots of scientists in the East and the West.

Literature. Since the mid of the 8th century achievements of Arabic poetry and its main forms-gazel, gasida, poems measure of aruz, tractates and the creations on the theory of poems have been extended in Azerbaijan. There were created works on astronomy, theology, philosophy and etc. in Azerbaijan. According to right explanation of I.Y.Krachkovsky, “Arabic literature, as well as Arabic culture at all obliged not to only Arabs, but also to the whole nations, subordinated to Caliphate and its development”. Azerbaijan nation were also included to such nations, as they represented prominent scientists, philologists and poets to Arabic science and culture.

Referring to initial sources, Arabic scientist-philologist Ibn- Kutayba testified in his work, called “Book of poetry and poets” that, there were Azerbaijanis among the poets of Medine and he gave samples and names of Ismail ibn Yassar, his brother – Musa Sakhavat and Abu Abbas al-Ama. Musa Shakhavat, the one of prominent poets of the phase of Omeyyads began his creative activity in 80s of the 7th century. He created works approximately in all janres of poetry: especially he wrote satiric (hidja) and panegyrical (madkh) poets, as well as appealed to didactics. It’s important to metion that, his satiric poets possessed general character. He criticized gazies, despotic rulers, self- confidence, bluntness and hypocrisy of governing stratum. Musa Shakhavat did not enter to any political group and did not interfere to political struggle. There were reflected hate and anger to the poet for unbearable world in his satiric poets. Musa Shakhavat’s poets distinguished with their artistic skill. Poet possessed all features of poetic forms and Arabic language too.

It was characteristic political incline for the creation of talented poet, Ismail ibn Yasar, who lived in 7th-8th centuries. He created love gazels, eulogistic odas, sad elegies. Differing from Musa Shakhavat, he protested against Arabic hegemony and supported conquered nations, included to Arabic Caliphate in his poems. Although his poetic measures of poems, the means of expression were concerned to Arabic literature, ibn Yasar’s creation were enriched by Azerbaijanian thought and spirit. Abu Abbas al-Ama was also an Azerbaijanian poet, who wrote his poems in Arabic language, but differing from his fellow- countrymen, al-Ama fought in the side of Omeyyads and expressed his thoughts about this dynasty with respect, even after Omeyyads’ collapse. There were preserved only little part of his creation till the present time and they were especially eulogistic poems, dedicated to Omeyyads. The author of the work, called “Brief notion and chosen people of the century”, Ali al-Bakherzini (died in 1074) dedicated whole chapter to Azerbaijanian poets – he counted 70 names of the representatives of Azerbaijanian poetry.

Although Arabic language became the language of science and literature, there was continued the development of national folklore, proverbs and dastans in Azerbaijan. One of the specific features of Azerbaijanian folklore consisted of that, it possessed common features with the folklore of other Turkish nations. There are similarities of texts in oral literature testifying that the shape of these sources referred to the sole ethno geographic area.

The bigger and greater movement of Azerbaijanian folklore is “My grandfather Korkud´s book” which was the part of “Oghuzname” and had delivered in written form to the present day. Although various motives of this epic literature influenced to subsequent Azerbaijanian folklore and classic literature, in general oral traditions were not preserved. That’s why “My grandfather Korkud´s book” is referred to the written literature.

According to some investigators, “My grandfather Korkud´s book” which is constituted from 12 legends (dastan/boy) completely consisted of poems, as other Turkish dastans. The main content of the legends of this epic literature is constituted: defence of native land and nation, deathful struggle of heros-oghuzes, personificated power of good with conquerors, educative-didactic expressions, which did not lose their validity even in nowadays.

Architecture. Strengthening of Islam in Azebaijan defermined new direction in the development of architecture; but adaptation of ancient temples for the need of new religion, construction of mosque, medreses, markets, caravanseraies, bathes and other settlements were implemented on the ground of early constructive traditions.

There were preserved few amount of monuments, as well as religious buildings of muslim type from the period of 7th-10th centuries.

Certain notion about the design of religious structures of 7th-10th centuries were given by Juma-mesjid in Shamakha, mosque in Aghsu and the village of Syundi. There are some evidences in the sources that there have been constructions from wood columns in the cities of Gabala, Ardebil and Ordubad.

There were noticed about the great religious buildings and palaces in Barda, Derbend,   Ardebil,   Marand, Maragha, Urmia, Shirvan, Shamakha, Shamkir, Shabran, Gandja, Gabala, Nakhichevan, Tabriz, which were referred to 7th-10th centuries. There were constructed strong palaces in Marand and Urmiya. Medieval descriptions of Barda, Ardebil, Gabala, Gandja and other cities testified that they all passed from the same process of formation of early-feudal cities. The forms of squares, which were located in much bigger urban structures testified that there were regions with palaces and common buildings in the cities of Azerbaijan at that time. Al-Muqaddasi informs about the existence of cruciform square in Ardebil, the location of council mosque in Gabala. Al-Istakhri wrote that in the ruins of one of the cities, the palace was located next to the council mosque and market was located in the centre.

Written sources and archaeological excavations testified that there were increased the network of close water-supply system and kargizes in Azerbaijan too. The system of big and small open canals-ariks for the most part of cities was also characteristic.

Art. Decorative art played important role in the cultural life of the country in 8th-10th centuries. Arabic and Persian sources of 9th-10th centuries praised the makes of local masters of this period. According to their evidences, carpets, clothes, ceramic, metallic and jewelry making of Azerbaijanian masters were famous not only in Azerbaijan, but also they were demanded in other countries of Caliphate, as well as were exported to Byzantine, western and northern countries of Europe.

There are many evidences about the craft makings of Barda, Shamakha, Beylagan, Maragha, Ardebil, Arabic historian al-Mugaddasi (wrote in 980) called Barda the Baghdad of this zone and notices that “There is nothing, which looks like to the carpets, leather and bedspread, prepared in Barda”.

As the materials of archaeological excavations proved that there were prepared ceramic makings in the early medieval in Azerbaijan by pottery circles. The samples of decorative-applied art were cups, lamps, baskets and other ceramic makings, which were prepared by potters and possessed special beauty. Glaze, which was applied in ceramic makings differed with its colour and quality. The technique of glaze has been known even since the first centuries of our era but this technique was developed namely in 9th-10th centuries. The glazed ceramic making from Orengala (Beylagan ) is distinguished with its brightness and purity.

The images of animals, wild animals and birds were described on the dishes too.

Artistic metal of the early medieval was the direct continuation of the traditions of craft which were shaped in pre-muslim period. Jewelry making was also developed at that time.

The supremacy of Islam caused to the decrease of painting and graphic art in Azerbaijan, but it couldn’t stop its development at all. As Muslim religion forbidden the image of man, whole creation was dedicated to the description of geometric lines, astronomic and other scientific grids and so on. Only one field of the graphic art-written graphics increased much. The ornaments of letters decorated the walls of mosque, palaces, bazars, ceramic makings and clothes.

Azerbaijanian folk music was also subjected to influence. There were created such features in the music culture of Azerbaijan that were common for the countries of Caliphate, but there was preserved distinctiveness too. Azerbaijanian national mugham, which enriched muslim music, simultaneously possessed national motives.

About Ismayil bey Zardabli

Author of t extbook for the higher educational institutions "THE HISTORY OF AZERBAIJAN, from ancient times to the present day"