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 Prayer rugs" main page


Antique Shirvan Prayer rug, Shirvan Region, Azerbaijan. mid 19th century. published Ralph Kaffel's Caucasian Prayer rugs, 117 x 152 cm

Imagination and unpredictability are two aspects of Caucasian rugs that make collecting them such an exciting pursuit. Take this example. The octagon-filled field is a rare feature in Caucasian rugs (see plates I and 86) and virtually unknown in prayer pieces from the northeast. Indeed, this appears to be the only such carpet in existence. Aside from the unusual field, the border design is uncommon. It is an evolutionary variant of the Marasali 'bird' border, but the addition of four legs transforms the birds into exotic, llama-like animals. Similar borders coincidentally appear on rugs with other unconventional field designs. These include a rug advertised in Oriental Rug Review with animals, birds and humans amidst the boteh; a rug with a row of six Mongol horsemen and their leader, auctioned at Skinner's and a rug pictured in Volkmann, Old Eastern Carpets with humans, deer-like animals, naturalistic small birds and three large 'Akstafa' fabulous birds. Volkmann's comment about rugs of this type is worth repeating. These immensely fine and noble prayer rugs, whose patterns with likelihood were accommodated to Persian tastes, were probably intended for Persian export in the early 19th century.