Traditional Azerbaijani art used Persian and Islamic styles and techniques. It included pottery, ceramics, metalwork, carpet making, calligraphy, and manuscript illumination. Azerbaijani decorative arts were marked by especially exquisite craftsmanship and rich ornamentation. To this day, Azerbaijan is famous for its carpet-making. Azerbaijani carpets are known for their bright colors and intricate patterns.
The unusual architectural heritage of Azerbaijan also reflects the country’s multilayered history. There are many artifacts from the prehistoric past, but the Islamic period left its most distinctive imprint on Azerbaijani architecture. Mosques, palaces, mausoleums, inns, and fortresses all carry the rounded style of Islamic architecture, as well as the rich blend of colors and mosaic pictures on the walls, although today most of these are drab and in need of cleaning. Perhaps the most interesting piece of architecture is the 12th-century maiden Tower, a landmark of Baku (and a principal feature of the James Bond movie The World Is Not Enough). Legend has it that a distraught medieval maiden flung herself from the top of the oval-shaped rampart. The modern literary tradition emerged in Azerbaijan after the completion of the Russian conquest in the 1800s. The writings are marked by their concern for spreading the ideas of enlightenment, rationalism, and education. This concern led to the formation of a separate literary language based on spoken Azerbaijani. This new language gradually replaced Persian.
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