Mirko Katai: "I am happy to donate ancient Haji Gaib carpet to Azerbaijan"
Baku and Shamakh host the large-scale Nasimi Festival dedicated to great Azerbaijani poet. One of the events of this grand festival of Azerbaijani culture was held in the Azerbaijan Carpet Museum, where Vestnik Kavkaza correspondent was able to interview famous Italian expert on oriental carpet weaving, Mirko Katai, who donated ancient Haji Gaib carpet from his own collection to the museum.
- Mr. Katai, could you tell us about Haji Gaib?
- It's an Azerbaijani carpet created in the middle of the 19th century in the Guba area. It's a very rare and ancient exhibit with simple pattern, which has animalistic elements typical for the Guba region. It has a very beautiful, soft color with delicate white background. I think this carpet was created for some special event, it wasn't part of some series, because elements of its pattern are very unusual, there are many images of animals. I like this carpet, because despite its traditional nature, it's very different from others. It's a special carpet for me, and when I thought which of my carpets should be exhibited in the museum, I realized that it must be an unusual carpet from Azerbaijan. I hope that people will look at it and want to visit the place where it was created.
- Why did you decide to donate the Haji Gaib carpet to the Azerbaijani Carpet Museum?
- I study ancient carpets since I was 25 years old, specializing in Azerbaijani carpets, I have about 600 of them. Of course, I knew about the Azerbaijani Carpet Museum, I knew its director, Dr. Shirin Melikova. The Azerbaijani Carpet Museum is a very serious project, and it's very important for me, since it's a huge source of knowledge for future generations who can study the history of their country's culture here.
- Do you think you will donate more carpets?
- I like unique, original carpets, which don't have any copies, and there are several of them that would look great in this museum. I didn't think about this yet, anything can happen. All the people I met in Azerbaijan were very kind to me. I'm very happy that I had an opportunity to come here with such a gift.
- What do you think about the Nasimi Festival?
- I have never been to Azerbaijan before and didn't know about traditions of Azerbaijani culture aside for the art of carpet weaving, and this festival is a great opportunity to learn a lot about Azerbaijani culture. I really liked music, national instruments, it seems that it's pretty difficult to use them, and it's very impressive. Overall, those performances that I saw were magnificent, very beautiful. All of this is new for me in comparison with Italian culture.