AH 1001 (1592 AD) dated Dragon Rug with Balanced Design. Karabagh.
Textile Museum R 36.1.4. (formerly R 2.47), formerly George Hewitt Myers
collection. . late 17th century would be a
more plausible date for this rug.
A carpet with many puzzling features. The field is a dark, rather brownish
brick red; the band systems blue-green and yellow-orange, enclosing a
light rose red diamond area about the centerpiece; the border a dark and
glowing medium blue. The shades of color do not match those of normal
dragon rugs, nor does the weave, which is more flexible and which lacks
the heavy, cabled single weft shots which are so characteristic of the
weaving habits which prevailed where most. of the antique Caucasian
carpets were produced.
In this carpet the forms of almost all of the palmettes are decidedly
degenerate; the band systems simplified and distorted in their drafting so
that they become a mere grating in the upper part of the field. The
octagram centerpiece, with its muddled decor, lends a jarring note, as do
the four "signboards", with two chickens on each one.
The dragons, on the other hand, come closer to Chinese and Persian models
than in the best of the 17th century dragon rugs and the flaming lions are
clearly recognizable, which could not be said of those in the early
carpets. So also are the ducks more clearly identified. At the base of the
field are two cranes, based on Chinese models but here corrupt, a symbol
of rank among other concepts. At the head of the carpet is an inscription
which has been translated as "On the date of the fifth of the sacred
Muharram of the year 1001. Husayn Bek, his servant." This would have been
Oct. 13, 1592. However the date is not expressed correctly and it has been
also read as "exactly Nov. 15, 1592" or as A.H. 1101 (1689 A.D.) and Oct.
A completely centralized design for a dragon rug seems strange for the
late 17th century, much more so for the late 16th, yet such things are
possible. The four tipsy, masquerade party steinbocks do not occur in
other dragon rugs, except the Graf carpet, which may have been a 19th
century copy in view of the degree of degeneracy of its details. The
balance of the animals are poorly drawn, beginning with the chilins and
which resemble gallinules. The "chi" are poor, and in the top of the
It is not really a pleasure to destroy old idols but in any serious art
study the application of new perspectives must at times produce that
result. It seems probable that the present carpet represents a free copy,
made centuries later, on the model of Husayn Bek's carpet by a weaver
whose imitative skills found better accomplishment in dealing with several
animal forms than with the other motifs. The octagram centerpiece may have
been her invention, replacing the "blazon" palmette which the two dragons
should have been protecting. Illiterate herself, she may have made the
errors in transcription that have given us such a variety of possible
datings—applicable to the model. The weaver may have been working
somewhere in the Karabagh province, but not near the original area of
The cranes at the base of the field also occur in Brooklyn Museum 65.250;
in the Jackling dragon rug, 251.59 of the California Palace of the Legion
of Honor in San Francisco; in the Graf carpet, now decimated, in East
Berlin: in the former Stefan Bardini dragon carpet and in several others.
They are usually taken for ducks, misunderstanding having so greatly
shortened the legs. The corresponding Chinese version may be seen in a rug
on loan to the Brooklyn Museum from the Krickson Collection (Ellis I96S:
Size: L. 4.45 m. (14'7") x W. 1.83 m. (6'0").
Warp: Z2S wool in a light natural range with occasional dark fibers. One
Weft: Z2S wool in natural mixtures, dyed a good red. Two shots, sometimes
Pile: 2Z wool. Gordes knotted, pile lies straight. 8 horiz. x 10 1/2
vert. per in. (85 per sq.in.).
Sides: Cut. Ends: Cut.
Colors: Ivory; black-brown; brown: yellow-orange; yellow: dark brick and
light rose reds; dark medium and fight medium blues; blue-green: light
yellow-green; dull light violet.
Condition: Some areas rewoven and a great deal of re-knotting, now faded.
Outer guard lost. Wear has been especially severe along the center line
Published: Pope 1925: III. 2; Bode and Kühnel 1955,
1958; Fig. 40; Erdmann 1962: Fig. 101: Ellis 1970: Fig. A.
Lit: Charles Grant Ellis "Early Caucasian Rugs", plate 11