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 Marasali rugs & carpets" main page


Antique Shirvan Marasali prayer rug, Azerbaijan, early 19th century, 89 x 114 cm (2'11"x3"9"), published Ralph Kaffel's Caucasian Prayer rug, plate 91

This is possibly the most famous and most published Caucasian prayer rug of all time. Oriental Rug Review described it as 'the finest Marasali (288 knots per square inch) in the world, with fabulous colours', while Murray Eiland says of the rug, 'this must be the most finely woven of the Marasali type, and the lustrous wool gives it an unusual glow'. Louise Mackie in the Textile Museum, Washington, catalogue, Prayer Rugs, declares that 'the superb juxtaposition of colours, detailed drawing and the lustrous quality of the wool must qualify the rug as one of the finest of its type... The beauty of the rug is greatly enriched and enlived by the random use of colours and designs on each buta.
This piece was acquired by Jerome and Mary Jane Straka in Krakow, Poland in 1937. Of more than two hundred rugs in their collection, it was always their favourite. This rug, more than any other, inspired Ralph Kaffel's passion for rug collecting. Although the Strakas donated a large part of their collection to the Textile Museum in Washington DC, this rug stayed with the family until Jerome Straka's death in April 1986. When it came on the market at Sotheby's, New York, later that year, Linda and Ralph Kaffel were delighted to be able to acquire it. They later received a letter from Mary Jane Straka in which she talked about her affection for the rug and the history of its acquisition.

Lit: Ralph Kaffel's Caucasian Prayer rug