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 Bird rug, 19th century, North East Azerbaijan

390 This piece is a distinct oddity, although a very interesting one. So often in the study of 19th century tribal and village weaving one reads that such-and-such a motif is a highly stylised and degenerate rendering of a bird or animal figure, the totemic significance of which was once clearly understood by the weaver, who would obviously draw it with great clarity so that it would more effectively perform its intended mystical function. As centuries went by and peoples were subjugated, dispersed or forcibly converted, the old totemic images slowly became diffused and misunderstood, thus beginning the gradual process of simplification and stylisation, so that, eventually, little of the original motif remained. In the discussion of 389, we remarked that the figures at the corners of the diamonds almost certainly represented highly degenerate bird figures. We then look at 390 which seems no older but has a far more archaic design we can see four clearly recognisable birds surrounding diamond-like medallions; each system is contained within a vertical row of alternate pseudo-diamonds and rectangles. Many other bird and animal figures scattered throughout the field, some of which are distinctly bizarre - there are two white figures two-thirds of the way down which look like crosses between an elephant and a duck, each having what would appear to be a headless rider standing on its back ! How such an anachronism of a rug came to be woven at the end of the 19th century it is difficult to explain. It may possibly be a copy of a very old Caucasian or even Persian rug, dating possibly to the 16th century (it has some affinities with Safavid garden carpets), or it may be the product of interpretative prompting on the part some outsider. The large medallions are in dark blue and red on a mid-blue ground. Second half 19th century. 283 x 93 cm


Lit: Ian Bennett's Oriental Rugs Volume I
published Ian Bennett's Oriental Rugs Volume I, plate 390