Shebeke windows of Azerbaijan
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Azerbaijan - Baku: Martyrs mosque - stained glass work known as 'shebeke' - Sebeke - Shabaka - lattice framework - photo by Miguel TorresAzerbaijan's answer to stained glass is an ancient vitrage craft work called 'shebeke', that can also be found across the borders, in Iran and in Georgia. Shebeke windows bring color and life to buildings.

These beautiful and intricate panels are made of small wooden pieces (usually walnut) assembled in a giant jig-saw puzzle that can have tens of thousands of elements. Each latticework frame is custom cut and pieced together, then the glass is cut to fit. No nails or glue are used to assemble the lattice framework pieces, all hand made. The measurements must be precise within a millimeter or the whole thing will have to be scrapped. In general the spaces are filled with colorful glass pieces, but some times just the wooden frame is used. Gracious geometrical motives are prevalent.

Azerbaijan - Sheki: stained glass work known as 'shebeke' - the Khan's palace (photo by F.MacLachlan)The technology of the work is rather complicated and known only to a few artisans who pass the know how from generation to generation. Shebeke is central feature in Azeri architecture - it can be found in historical places like the Khan's palace in Sheki or the Shah Abbas mosque in Ganja, in modern religious buildings like the Martyrs mosque in Baku or in some of the residences of Azerbaijan's Nouveau riche (both in windows and doors).

Sheki / Shaki - Azerbaijan: Sheki Khans' Summer palace - checkered shebeke window - Khansarai - photo by N.MahmudovaIf you'd like to take this form of art home there is a good shebeke workshop in Sheki, but beware: prices are high and it may take several months for your order to be prepared.

The world 'shebeke' is also used to designate drawings and patterns from thin lacy wire. This type of shebeke is of two kinds: the first creates the object's base from gold or silver threads; the second covers the surface of object.
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