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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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Early Shirvan Kabistan prayer rug, Southern Shirvan Region, Azerbaijan. 1800-1826. 86 x 112 cm. dated 1232 or 1242 (1817 or 1826).

With its naturalistic flower design, and lack of a geometric lattice framework, it is quite probable that this piece represents a very early style of Caucasian prayer rug. Very few rugs of this design now exist. The rug is extremely finely woven, with 525 knots per square inch, and uses silk wefting. It is published as plate 8 in The Caucasus: Traditions in Weaving by James Burns, the owner of the rug, where he calls it 'the most finely knotted Caucasian weaving I have examined'. Indeed, it is almost twice as fine as the 'Straka' Marasali (plate 91), which has 287 knots per square inch.
The tradition of silk wefting and extremely fine knotting endured throughout the nineteenth century Caucasian weavers continued to produce very fine white-ground prayer rugs for special commissions. Maury Bynum of Chicago recently had two such examples, one dated 1854 with cotton weft and silk warp and one dated 1840 with silk weft, warp and highlights. Plate 7 in Burns, Traditions in Weaving, illustrates a silk-wefted Shirvan dated AH 1230 (1814) with 324 knots per square inch. Another very fine example, dated ah 1243 (1827) and with 260 knots per square inch, was sold at Lefevre in 1984. These rugs were special presentation pieces, often intended as gifts or bridal dowry. The rug, shown here has an interesting recent history:


Offered by Lefevre in its prerestored condition (cut and reduced in length and width with the remaining sections together), it was assigned to Daghestan, dated AH 1232 (1817) and sold for little money in 1979 (Lefevre, 10 May 1979, lot 30); after which it was restored. It was then purchased by a leading London dealer who made the decision to remove the restored portions and mount the rug as we now see it. Although the restoration was excellent, it could not compare with the original portions of the piece.


published Ralph Kaffel's Caucasian Prayer rug, plate 93