Stone is considered to be one of the most ancient and natural gifts in human life. Stone helped people to get food and to make domestic implements. The first place of human settlement (caves, etc.) was made of stone. The first woman accessories, the first pen and the first writing-board were made of stone. Stone also played a great role in the development of the human ability of painting and as well as aesthetic taste.

Scientists noticed the first patterns of decoration and painting on stones and rocks.

The history of decorated stone monuments dates to ancient times.

The ancient samples of stone pictures made by engraving, hewing and scratching are reviled by our scientists in Ordubad (Gemi gayasi), Absheron (villages Mardekan, Shuvalan) and on Gobustan rocks, locating not far from the shore of the Caspian sea, 60 kilometres south from Baki.

Pictures on Gobustan rocks are more attractive for the rich theme, artistic peculiarity and the quantity.

Here Our scientists found more than 3000 pictures of men, animals, domestic implements, kin pictures drew by primitive stone and metallic tools. According to the investigations, the pictures on Gobustan rocks are different in their size, composition and the techniques of drawing, depending on the period they were executed. Archaeologists think that the oldest of these pictures were made at the end of the stone age, in the period of appearance of bronze tools and weapons. The pictures of the above mentioned period are large in volume, are more schematic and far from real proportions.

The major part of descriptions is that of reflecting hunting, and especially the descriptions of wild bull, deer and goat. And this is evident, for hunting occupied an important position in the life of primitive people lining in Azerbaijan territory.

Being the main source of living in the life of primitive people hunting was the main topic of described compositions.

Materials revealed during archaeological digs prove, that at the beginning of middle ages in Azerbaijan the stone was used not only for construction and as domestic implements, as it was before, but also as the smallest patterns of jewellery as well.

Though at these ages designs made on the stones were enriched in technical execution, one can hardly find any topical description among them.

The main descriptions characterizing these ages were the descriptions of plants, geometrical figures, birds, animals. Among stone designs created at the beginning of the age one finds the designs of the plant depending local traditions, and in X-XI centuries and later, i.e. after acceptance of Islam traditions by the people we frequently notice geometrical designs.

While speaking of stone designs of the beginning of middle ages, we should mention a monument scientifically known as 'alban capiteli', found among the remnants of a religious temple during archaeological digs in Mingachevir in 1948. Our archaeologists refer this monument to V-VI centuries. This monument carries particular importance for us, for in later periods we find the ornamental composition described on it in many kinds of our folk art.

This monument had been cut in the form of swelling with two figures of peacocks, symmetrically placed around a plant curving up on its side. Both peacocks have long gallons round their neck. The gallons seem to hang in the air. One should pay special attention to this fact, for according to scientists' opinion, at the beginning of middle ages those gallons carried some symbolic meaning and pointed to the sanctity of a bird or an animal carrying it.

It is very interesting that in old times peacock was considered to be holy and symbolized the goddess of fire and the sun. In VII-VIII centuries foreign travellers, being at the reception of Turkish Khakans living in Middle Asia, considered that bird to be holy and brought her many gifts.

The interesting conception concerning this fact belongs to a great Azerbaijan poet Nizami Ganjevi. In his epic 'Iskendername' Nizami described Nushaba's palace in Barda and several times mentioned about silk cloths with the description of peacocks and spoke that they considered being holy by Turkish people.

The plant curving up between the peacocks also deserves some attention from this aspect.

The investigations prove that in the old past people worshipped a plant as a synthesis of our elements symbolizing the universe, 'water, fire, earth and air'. Time passed and this tradition changed its form in accordance with ideological and aesthetic peculiarities of the ages. The symbols of 'a holy tree' were an oak-tree, olive-tree, fig tree, cypress and sometimes a lower or a leaf.

For its holy character, the plant was always at the centre of compositions on patterns of decorative-applied art. The figures of birds, animals, human placed in symmetric position around the plant should traditionally be of two different genders (male, female).

Existing materials show that at the beginning of the middle ages, folk masters alongside with decorating and shaping figures on the stones by engraving and scratching, they made different sculptures of the stone.

Beginning with the XV century we do not see engravings of living beings in the graphic arrangement of the architectural monuments and they are replaced with ornaments of flowers.

The disappearance of decorations engraved on the stones was the result of the change of the artistic style, as well as the wide use of colourful glazed tiles in architectural monuments beginning with that century.

Thus, in later centuries, in the territories of Azerbaijan, the most original patterns of design engraved on the stone are frequently met on gravestones.

There are several kinds of gravestones in Azerbaijan. They may be straight, frowned, round at the top, in the form of turban vertical stones, horizontal sandugas, statues in the form of ram and others.

Abovementioned stones were decorated in a different form and the shape, depending on the position the berried one occupied in his life and society. The graves of statesmen had more rich and tender decorations.

Depending on the climate, the applied material and tradition of the place gravestones might be of different form and decoration in different territories of Azerbaijan. Today in the territories of Asheron, Shamakhi, Barda, Lachin, Lerik, Nakhchivan, Ganja and in the village of Hazra of Gabala one may see the most original and tenderly engraved gravestones of XVI-XVII century Azerbaijan. Those gravestones, one may see masterly made geometrical, plant ornaments, as well as the figures of a human, an animal, a bird, and even the topical compositions. They did not simply remain as designs, but they gave the information about the gender, life, the profession of berried man. For instance, the description of a sword, shield, a horse, a ram, and an eagle on the gravestones denoted the youth and courage, the description of beads and rail was on the gravestones of priests or honourable old men, the description of a needle, a thread, a mirror, etc. denoted that buried there was a women.

The list of UNESCO World Heritage sites from Azerbaijan includes 2 intangible cultural heritage - Shirvanshahs Palace and Maiden Tower where Icheri Sheher and Gobustan rock art are located.