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 Caucasian Shirvan "Akstafa" prayer rug, Southern Shirvan Region, Azerbaijan. mid 19th century, Klein Collection

c. 1860, 81x168cm (2'8" x 5'6")

A distinctive feature of this rug is its field pattern of 'rising' palmettes. This design occurs primarily in Shirvans, Daghestans and, more rarely, Kubas. Two basic versions exist. In one version, arguably the earlier, the palmettes resemble floral shields; Ian Bennett has proposed that this pattern may be connected to the stylized lotus palmettes of eighteenth-century Caucasian 'Shield' carpets, which may be from Shirvan. In the other (possibly later) version, as seen here, the pattern is highly stylized (Bennett has likened these palmettes to huge insects. Not even-one agrees with Bennett's evolutionary theory; an example owned by Eberhart Herrmann and featuring the 'stylized' version is dated c. 1800 and assigned to Kuba (see analogies).

The rug shown here is missing its outer guard border. The red and blue barber-pole stripe framing the rug is unusual, and cochineal dye is used extensively. All of the brown is camel hair, which points to a southern Shirvan origin. An example with a similar field was depicted in an 1877 painting by Henri Fantin-Latour, now in the Musee des Beaux-Arts in Lyon).


Warps: white wool, Z2S, 18 threads per inch (72 per dm)
Wefts: white wool, between 2 and 4 shoots, 9 knots per inch (36 per dm)
Pile: wool and camel hair, symmetrical knot, 81 knots per sq. inch (1296 knots psd)

published at Ralph Kaffel's Caucasian Prayer Rugs as plate 81


The Reading (La Lecture in French) is a painting by French painter Henri Fantin-Latour in 1877