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Antique Shirvan Prayer rug, Shirvan Region, Azerbaijan. mid  19th century. 124 x 145 cm. published Ralph Kaffel's Caucasian Prayer rugs

The main focus of this striking rug is the three figures of elaborately attired warriors astride large horses, which are equally elegantly decorated. The rug also features a profusion of animals, deer and a few birds both above and below the prayer arch. This appears to be a unique design for a Marasali prayer rug, with no known analogies in rug literature except for a vaguely related example with a large horse and rider as a centrepiece (Robert Muller's rug, published Hali magazie 5/4, p.27). It is quite possibly a commissioned piece, made for a family of hunters or warriors. Particular attention has been paid to details such as the riders' costumes and saddle covers. Special batches of dyes must have been made for the pale sky blue and golden yellow ochre of the horses, which are unusual colours for a Marasali.

Prayer rugs containing fabulous birds see for example Volkmann, Old Eastern Carpets, plate 66 and lions have been attributed to Marasali. Other prayer examples with birds are assigned to Akstafa. The Volkmann rug has a system of major and minor borders virtually identical to this piece. Volkmann suggests that the deer-tike animals that also feature on his rug symbolize the Caucasian countryside. There are related secular Shirvan examples with naturalistic horses alternating with roosters.