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Antique Shirvan Prayer rug, Shirvan Region, Azerbaijan. c 1875, 96 x 190 cm

The field design of this rug, with its pattern of highly stylized shield like medallions, is common in Caucasian kilims, where it has many variants. It is rarely employed in pile carpets, however, and this example is the only known instance of its use in a prayer rug. Ignazio Vok identifies the design as "pashali", and Yanni Petsopoulos speculates that it may have its origin in an earlier group of Shield carpets ( such as Schurmann, Caucasian Rugs, plates 6, 62 and 94). The border is also evocative of kilim designs, but the floral decoration flanking the central medallions is typical of eastern Caucasian pile weaving. The pattern also includes Akstafa birds and two realistically depicted samovars.