About the Antique Rugs of the Future Project

Sheep Breeds of Azerbaijan

Sorting, Washing, Carding, Spinning

"The advantages of handspun yarn to machine spun yarn"

Rediscovery of Ancient Natural Dyes
Our Natural Dyestuffs


Difference between synthetically and naturally dyed rugs

Weaving and Finishing Steps

Galleries of ARFP Caucasian Azerbaijani Rugs

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Antique silk Derbend prayer rug, mid 19th century, 55 x 120 cm, 1'8" x 3.4"

The tradition of silk weaving in the Caucasus is an old one. Early travel chronicles refer to the sericul ture of the region, and some splendid examples of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century silk embroidery survive from Azerbaijan and Daghestan. Early Caucasian prayer rugs piled in silk are extremely rare, however.

This example is most likely from Daghestan, by virtue of its design and the fact that we know that silk was readily available in the area. (Some Kaitag emboideries - a type of silk embroidery now identified as coming from Daghestan - date from the seventeenth century and thus offer conclusive proof of a long tradition of silk weaving in the area.) The rug is small, with a light yellow field. The ascending lattice traces the shape of the free-floating prayer arch, a rare feature among lattice design rugs. The rug has been woven 'upside down', with the palmettes pointing towards the bottom and the pile slanting towards the top. The practical reason for this technical feature, more typical of Turkish weavings, is to enable the faithful's palms and knees to be placed with (rather than against) the pile during the act of prayer. This charming rug was almost certainly a very special piece commissioned for a specific occasion.


published Ralph Kaffel's Caucasian Prayer Rugs, plate 64
lit: published Ralph Kaffel's Caucasian Prayer Rugs, plate 6