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"The advantages of handspun yarn to machine spun yarn"

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Antique Caucasian Shirvan "Akstafa" prayer rug, Southern Shirvan Region, Salyan (Saliani) District, Azerbaijan. Late 19th century

The town of Akstafa is situated in the Kazak weaving area (Azerbaijan), near the rail line that runs parallel to the Kur River between Tiflis and the town of Genje in the eastern Caucasus. It has little or nothing to do with a group of rugs named Akstafa, which were woven in south Shirvan (although Ulrich Schurmann mentions the town in connection with a Kazak rug, published as plate 26 in Caucasian Rugs).

The rug shown here combines features from so many east Caucasian weaving areas that precise attribution is difficult. While it has various Marasali characteristics - flaming boteh, a "bird" boteh and the typical Marasali palette - other features indicate a different origin. The "boteh-inside-boteh" (or "pregnant" boteh) is not a Marasali feature and is found in Akstafa and Daghestan boteh rugs. The square prayer arch filled with X motifs is another Akstafa feature, as is the comb and square beneath the arch.

The guard borders, back and structure appear to be Shirvan, but the double-bundled blue cotton overcast selvedges are more typical of Kuba and Daghestan, although occasionally a feature of Akstafas as well.

Warps: ivory wool, Z3S, 18 threads per inch (72 per dm)
Wefts: white cotton, 10 knots per inch (40 per dm)
Pile: wool, symmetrical knot, 90 knots per sq. inch (1440 knots psd)

published at Ralph Kaffel's Caucasian Prayer Rugs as plate 85