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



Antique Kuba rug, early 19th century,  possibly Lowland Kuba Region, North East Azerbaijan

This rug has been around the block several times, having been sold by Jean Lefevre in London as long ago as May 1976. Since then it has appeared in colour in three major exhibition catalogues (Spuhler,
König, Volkmann, Old Eastern Carpets, Munich
1978, pl.67; Kirchheim et al., Orient Stars, Hamburg
1993, pl.18; Thompson, Timbuktu to Tibet, New York
2008, pl.75), as well as another appearance at
auction at Sotheby’s in New York in April 1998
(HALI 99, p.125). The weaver’s ability to avoid
having the field motifs appear as a stack of unrelated
elements is quite remarkable.

One of the hallmarks of old Caucasian pile rugs
is that they have field and sometimes border designs
that simply don’t appear in later examples. But
these combinations are not unique – there are
often a handful of like examples in museums or
private collections, which makes it seem that the
early pieces come out of a fairly long tradition.
The inference is that very few were woven.
As far as I know this particular long-format rug
is the sole survivor of its type/design, although it
is said that there is a near pair in a California
collection. Based on its wool type, colours, and
structure – wool warps, [assumed] cotton wefts, a
small bit of white cotton plainweave end finish, a
cotton selvedge and the use of a medium blue and
corrosive dark brown outer reciprocal border, it
can be placed within a small cluster of similar old
weavings, all of which are long rugs or probable
fragments of long rugs. Others in this cluster have
undecorated fields in green, blue or red, an ivoryground main border of large linked rosettes, and
stepped multicoloured, slit-tapestry-like indentations
into the field; two otherwise complete
examples are missing the outside border, probably
as a result of the stress induced by the corrosion
of dark brown in the reciprocal, combined
with relatively weak cotton wefting. There
are apparently no post-1880 rugs of this type,
even if some look superficially similar.

Caucasian rug formats are rarely discussed; it
would be very interesting to know why the rugs
in this cluster are all in a long format. Most likely
they were originally designed to be used domestically
in sets in long narrow rooms typical of
the area. Without fieldwork and anthropological
data from the period, of which there appears to
be none, one can, at this point, only speculate.
The Russians, whose invasion of the Transcaucasus
began at the start of the 19th century,
systematically closed and converted mosques,
which would have been depots and therefore a
potential source of information about locally
woven old rugs and kilims, much as they have
been in Anatolia. Old Transcaucasian rugs at the
time of Russian conquest were probably dispersed,
and the knowledge about them has been
lost. Hearsay has it that these long rugs are from
the southern part of Shirvan, south of Baku, but
nobody really knows.



‘Karagashli’ long rug, Shirvan
area (?) east Caucasus, 19th
century. Wool pile on a wool
and cotton foundation, 0.95 x
2.87m (3'11⁄2" x 9'5"). Daniel
Baldini Collection