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Sheep Breeds of Azerbaijan

Sorting, Washing, Carding, Spinning

"The advantages of handspun yarn to machine spun yarn"

Rediscovery of Ancient Natural Dyes
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Difference between synthetically and naturally dyed rugs

Weaving and Finishing Steps

Galleries of ARFP Caucasian Azerbaijani Rugs


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AH 1221 (1806 AD) dated Kazak Prayer rug, Azerbaijan, 74 x 130 cm (2'5" x 4'3"). Burns Collection

This is the earliest known Kazak prayer carpet that can be precisely dated. (The earliest dated secular Kazak is nine years older - See Mc. Mullan, Islamic Carpets, pl. 49, dated AH 1212 (1797). McMullan points to the similarities between this Kazak and certain Turkish rugs, a comparison which is also relevant to our example.).

The rug's unusually small size and its long, shiny pile - characteristic of the finest Kazaks - give it a jewel-like appearance. Although evenly worn, it still possesses the lustre that only the finest and softest wool can produce. The mottled field gives the impression of great depth, as does the abrashed light blue of the bottom compartment. Here, the appearance is one of an endless night sky. The wonderfully archaic white ground border is evocative of Turkish and Central Asian antecedents.

Formerly in the collection of John Webb Hill of San Francisco, this piece is now owned by James Burns of Seattle. It was shown at the De Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, in the exhibition Prayers Rugs from the Near East and Central Asia (24 November 1984 - 28 April 1985) and published in Hali 26, p. 63. It was later shown in the Passages exhibition at California State University, Hayward, during the 1990 ICOC in SF.

Analogies: Skinner 2 December 1989, lot 51. The only known parallel piece (excluding late 19th century double niche emulations), with a virtually identical field and border. Dimensions: 96 x 178 cm (3'2" x 5'10").

Technical Analysis

Warp: ivory wool, 30 threads per inch (120 per dm)
Weft: red wool, 9 knots per inch (36 per dm)
Pile: symmetrical knot, 135 knots per sq. inch (2160 per sq dm)

Ralph Kaffel's Caucasian Prayer Rugs plate 19