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Antique Shirvan Prayer rug, Shirvan Region, Azerbaijan. 1880s, 102 x 165 cm. published Ralph Kaffel's Caucasian Prayer Rugs, plate 79

Thousands of Shirvan and Daghestan prayer rugs were made in the last decades of the nineteenth century. Most of them adhered fairly strictly to the most popular formula of flower-filled lattice field with dragon border. There were, of course, exceptions -such as this example, which appears to have started out as a conventional floral lattice piece but then changed to a rudimentary pattern of multicoloured 'x' forms. The simplicity of the design suggests that this rug might have been made tor personal use rather than for export, as rugs made for overseas markets generally employed the more popular patterns. Although the design appears rather crowded, the green prayer arch and the border of animal-filled 'birds' give it a certain character and charm.