“I’m afraid that the craft of stained glass will be lost.” says Huseyn Mustafazade, a native of Sheki and a celebrated stained glass craftsman.
The tradition of stained glass has been protected and cultivated in the Azerbaijani city of Sheki for centuries, but is facing fierce competition from new manufacturing technologies.
Until this day, local craftsmen order glass from Venice, which is then fitted together by hand with pieces of wood from the plane tree that have been prepared by a special boiling method to ensure quality and durability.
Ornate and complex in design, it can take even the most skilled craftsmen up to six months to completely assemble a stained glass door or window. What makes the art form even more impressive is the fact that the stained glass tradition of Azerbaijan does not allow for the use of glue or nails, as is commonly practiced in other variations of the art form.
The 250 year old symbol of Sheki, the Khan Saray, is widely known for the beauty of its stained glass.
Huseyn claims that over 70 percent of the palace’s stained glass has been restored, the process of which he oversaw. Fortunately, he says, the remaining glass has retained much of its former quality and is currently well – maintained.
Huseyn has worked not only on the restoration of Sheki’s Khan Saray, but also on the famous pilgrimage sites of Ganja’s “Shah Abbas” and Berde’s “Imamzade.”
The craftsman is afraid that the future of stained glass making in Sheki is not very bright, as new technology and the physical intensity of the work has made the craft financially unrewarding.