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

back to "An Educational Guide to Antique Shirvan Kabistan rugs & carpets" main page


Early  Shirvan prayer rug, Southern Shirvan Region, Azerbaijan. 96 x 135 cm, 3'2" x 4'5". first half 19th century, published Ralph Kaffel's Caucasian Prayer Rugs, plate 82

By all criteria, this is a 'classic' Shirvan prayer rug. In spite of its condition it has all the qualities of the best pieces: precise draughtsmanship; high-quality, finely spun wool; saturated colours, and an overall dignity of design and execution. The polychrome 'eagle's beak' border contrasts beautifully with the ivory field, which contains a great variety of naturalistic flowers. The prayer arch, which is very fine and carefully rendered, picks up the 'crosses and sevens' pattern of the guard borders but is on a green ground. This subtle use of green draws additional attention to the prayer arch.

Naturalistic flowers and fine, precise prayer arches without serrated edges are widely believed to be a characteristic of older Shirvans - This example lends support to that theory. Two gold-ground examples with similar prayer arches are also known to exist; these probably date to a generation later and arc perhaps an attempt to emulate the earlier ivory-ground pieces.