Frequently Asked Questions
- What Is A Caucasian Rug?
The Caucasus Carpet (or Caucasus Rug) is an example of oriental rugs produced in the Caucasus region.
- Origin: Caucasus
The Caucasus region is between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.
Formerly, southern Russia, surrounded on the east by the Caspian Sea and on the west by the Black Sea. The Caucasus mountain range splits the region diagonally from northwest to southeast. The Transcaucasus is the region south of the mountain range. This is where the majority of rugs are made.
The ethnic composition of the population is diverse. Azeri Turks, Kurds, and Armenians weave rugs and carpets. Travellers mention rug manufacture in the Caucasus in the fourteenth century, and there are Dragon Caucasian carpets credited to the Caucasus from the seventeenth century.
In the nineteenth century, rug making was a thriving cottage industry.
- Caucasian Rug Characteristics
The Caucasus carpets are of a straightforward character, with historical models being of superior quality than modern variants. The reason for this is due to the type of material that was employed. Carpets in this region used to be knotted from hand-spun wool with natural colours, but now commercial spun wool is widespread. An Antique Caucasian Rug is therefore highly sought after.
Antique rugs were typically brightly coloured and geometric in design. The symmetric knot is used with average knot densities ranging from 60 per square inch for Kazaks to 114 per square inch for Kuba rugs. The pile is made of wool. The warps aren't coloured. Between each row of knots, these carpets have two or more wefts, with a few exceptions. Rugs from the Caucasus region with cotton foundations have higher knot densities than those with wool foundations.
In Azerbaijan, Daghestan, and Armenia, cooperative rug producers produce contemporary piled rugs.
The quality of Caucasian rugs ranges from medium to fine and Armenia is the leading producer. Classic or modern variants of traditional designs are available. Knot densities range from 78 knots per square inch to 162 knots per square inch, depending on the commercial grade. Novoexport, a part of the Russian agency, managed the export of such rugs. These rugs are given a chemical wash after export to increase the colour tone and contrast.
Kurdish weavers in the Caucasus are credited with Soumak bags and Mafrash, while comparable pieces are attributed to the Shahsavan in Iran. Large Soumaks, many of them from Kuba, were woven throughout the Caucasus.
Some Caucasian rugs feature a woven completion date in Persian Farsi numerals that corresponds to the Mohammedan (Islamic) year, which begins with the birth year of the Prophet Mohammed in 579 CE. The Islamic year was usually written above the word "date," which is pronounced "seneh."
Because many nomadic weavers were illiterate during this time, the year was sometimes weaved erroneously or without a numeric digit. Because the Farsi word for a date has a dot above one of the letters that looks like a zero, zero is usually absent. This has resulted in a misunderstanding about how to read dates correctly. Weavers may have followed a design sketch when weaving the date but were unaware that the design was inverted.
Many village weavers would sometimes repeat the same design patterns for numerous years, and some carpets could have been completed up to twenty years after the woven date. Armenians adhered to Christian dates, which can be seen on several woven items. These caucasian rugs were primarily created in the Armenian-populated districts of Kazak and Karabagh in the southwestern Caucasus.
Collectors have been aggressive in acquiring antique Caucasian rugs from all weaving districts, willing to pay up to six figures for them on some occasions.
Antique Caucasian rugs are considered true works of art. Armenian weavers' innovative and famous Dragon or animal conflict themes are now preserved in museums and private collections worldwide. The Western world's enthusiasm for the charm and beauty of Caucasian rugs has been captured by tribal imaginings woven into many stunning designs.
- Common Designs: Geometric, Symmetric
Typically, Caucasian kilims and palaces are styles typical woven in a single piece. The tapestry structure is split weave. To create a web look, the warp ends are knotted. Motifs are made up of rows of smaller geometric motifs or adjacent or compressed huge geometric medallions that resemble palmettes.
In the early nineteenth century, prayer rugs were commonly created by the Muslim people for personal daily meditation and selling. A Mihrab, or arch design, is found on prayer carpets. A hand sign was woven into each corner above the arch to aid hand placement during prayers.
Caucasian rugs occasionally had a distinctive design, colouring, or weave. This was usually the result of tribal migration or relocation from one community to another, with weavers using marketable techniques at the time. Intertribal marriages frequently impacted new styles, as did crossover designs.
Objects experienced by tribes daily, such as animals, birds, stars, worms, landscapes (trees, bushes, and branches), various flowers, flower heads with leaf and vine patterns and household items, are motifs found in Caucasian rugs. In addition, religious and inspirational designs were woven. On some rugs, symbolic messages of power can be found in the design and colours.
A tiny number of kilims have all-over designs of small, repeating geometric components.
A vertically repeating diamond medallion alternating with two hexagons or circular motifs was a popular design in the nineteenth century, as were dragon Soumaks based on piled dragon rugs. The Soumak structure was woven with a design of huge "S" shapes that were considered to depict dragons.
Floral themes prevalent in French carpets began to be woven throughout the Caucasus, primarily in the Karabagh province. These patterns were adopted during the Tsar period to match the fashionable French-style furnishings favoured by Russian aristocracy and nobles.
- Common Colours: Red, Blue, Ivory, Green, Blue, Cinnamon, Gold, Yellow
The colours are vibrant and contrasted. Despite trade names like "Kuba," "Shirvân," or "Talish," regional attribution of kilims within the Caucasus is difficult.
The design features were used in all colour hues throughout the region. The field and borders of Caucasian weavings were predominantly reds, dark blues, or ivory. Shades of green, blue, cinnamon, gold and yellow were occasionally employed for the background, medallions and borders in the eastern areas, such as Shirvan, Daghestan, Kuba, and Baku.
For the field, medallions and borders, the Karabagh district used black, blue-black, or pomegranate-red (from cochineal). Shades of green were used for the background, borders and medallions in several areas of the Kazak district, such as Karatchopf, Fachralo, Bordjalou and Sewan. On a limited scale, certain Kazak communities utilised grey for the medallion and borders. Naturally coloured brown and black sheep fleece was used in the design outlines and in the borders and field on occasion.
- Material: Wool, Goat Hair, Cotton, Silk
Their warp is constructed of wool or, in some cases, a combination of goat hair and wool. Cotton, wool, or a combination of wool and goat hair make up the weft. Cotton was used for the entire foundation by the early twentieth century. Wool is commonly used for the weave in the western parts of Kazak and Karabagh.
Cotton is primarily used for the weft in Baku, Kuba, Shirvan, Talish, Moghan, Daghestan, and other districts in the eastern Caucasus region. Very beautiful rugs with silk foundations were greatly wanted as dowry gifts and gifts for senior government officials in the Shirvan and Kuba areas.
The rug pile is composed of sheeps' wool, but there are a few rugs of silk pile. The pile height was chosen in response to the district's topographical setting.
High-pile weavings, for example, were manufactured in mountainous places like Kazak and Gendje. Lowland and valley locations like Talish, Lenkoran, and Daghestan produced a medium-pile antique caucasian rug.
Low (short) pile rugs were primarily found in low-lying places near the Caspian Sea, such as the Shirvan, Kuba, and Baku districts. The Turkish (symmetric) knot was used everywhere. Flatwoven Jajim, Sileh, Soumak and Verneh carpets were also actively woven, each with its own techniques and designs.
- The History Of Antique Caucasian Rugs
The Caucasus is located southwest of Russia, northwest of Iran, west of the Caspian Sea, east of Turkey and the Black Sea. The Caucasus was conquered several times over the centuries: Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE) occupied the region in 328 BCE; the Persian Sasanian Empire took control in 230 CE; the Arabs occupied the area in 639 CE until the Seljuk tribes took control in the eleventh century, and the Mongols took control in the thirteenth century.
The Turkmens then conquered the region in the fourteenth century; the Persian Safavid Empire entered the region in the early sixteenth century and ruled most of or a significant portion of it for three centuries until the early nineteenth century; the Ottomans also ruled parts of the region in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; and Tsarist Russia annexed the Georgian region from the Persians in 1804 and then extended its dominance by taking over the Caucasus region and in the 1860s, the border between Persia and Russia along the Aras River was stabilised.
The Caucasus region became a melting pot for various tribes and ethnic groups who travelled through and settled in the area as a result of these foreign occupiers. In the Karabagh and Kazak districts of the southern Caucasus, Armenians predominate. In the southeast, Tatar and Azeri tribes coexisted with Persians. Lesghi and Chechen people inhabit the northeastern region primarily. In the Caucasus region today, it is estimated that there are up to 350 tribes speaking more than 150 dialects.
Foreign invaders such as the Turks, Armenians, Persians, Kurds, Turkmens and Mongols waged constant regional battles, bringing many new design patterns to the region.
The Dragon design, also known as "animal conflict," was devised by Armenian weavers in the seventeenth century and was used throughout the Caucasus region until the late seventeenth century. Large all-over palmette, Botteh (paisley), Herati (fish), Shrub, Josheghan, tree, and medallion motifs were popular in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Minor borders were put around the main border in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century to improve the framing of the rug design. This feature was developed in the Caucasus to compete financially in the Western market with adjacent weaving countries like Persia and Anatolia, which utilised several minor borders.
Caucasian weavers in the nineteenth century were open to innovative design approaches. Rugs began to reveal finer detail than preceding ages' rough, rudimentary motifs. The nuances of motifs such as birds, animals, landscapes and exotic flora were meticulously executed. The trendy and in-demand Persian elements were incorporated in a range of designs.
Tribes used to sell or trade their own rugs as well as wheat, animals and other goods at old markets in the Caucasus region. Only one or two types of merchandise would be sold on particular days to keep the bazaar running smoothly.
As a result, the tribes were able to sell their woven textiles once or twice a week, making rugs accessible to both locals and those travelling vast distances. Household decorations, Khorjin (saddlebags), grain storage bags, shoulder bags, Balisht (pillows), bedcovers, floor coverings and Prayer Rugs were all manufactured by Caucasian weavers and other rural weaving cultures for trade, personal use and necessity. It was a way of life to weave travel needs and decorations for one's animal carriage. Weavers made saddle covers for horses and camels and big bags for travelling and carrying goods. Owners would sometimes use stunning ornate weavings to adorn their animals' heads and bodies.
The majority of early Caucasian rugs are long and narrow in shape. Rugs and tribal objects range in size from about five feet by three feet to twelve feet by nine feet from the eighteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Weavers in Karabagh created large gallery sizes and runners measuring up to thirty feet by ten feet. These gallery formats are eight feet by four feet, ten feet by five feet and twelve feet by six feet in size; the length is roughly double the breadth.
By 1900, there was a massive production of these colourful, geometric Caucasian scatter rugs and runners, estimated to be over 100,000 per year.
The year 1925 is a pivotal year in Caucasian rug manufacture. Dagestan, Kazak, Karabakh, Cuban and Shirvan rugs are the five groups of rugs made prior to this date. They mimic Persian-made rugs in terms of pattern and formal language. Other Caucasian rug varieties exist, but they are less well-known.
Playful components are related to geometric-reci-linear structures. Reduced patterns can also be found in the animal kingdom. While antique Caucasian rugs are highly regarded, modern rugs are slowly regaining appeal. Many Caucasian rugs, particularly those with light blue tones, are being rediscovered.
- Why Choose London House Rugs?
We are rug experts at London House Rugs. We've spent more than four decades perfecting our process and building long-term, ethical connections with weavers all around Asia. A London House Rug has gone through rigorous sourcing, manufacturing and finishing processes to ensure its quality and beauty.
We spend a lot of time in the Middle East looking for the most excellent carpets and establishing long-term, ethical relationships with weaving cooperatives. In our store, we have a vast assortment of new and antique carpets in various sizes.
Individuals and businesses collaborate with us to design, manufacture and locate carpets for various applications. Please take a look at some of our recent projects to get a sense of the wide range of services we provide, including everything from a single hearth rug for your own home to a hundred handcrafted carpets for a hotel rollout.
We can help you discover the ideal rug for your room because we have over 40 years of experience.