Most Caucasian rugs are made with natural fibres, such as cotton, wool and silk. Cotton is the most common fibre used today. Wool is more expensive than cotton, but it lasts longer and is warmer.
The Caucasus carpets are of a straightforward character, with historical models being of superior quality to modern variants. The reason for this is due to the type of material that was employed. This region used to be famous for hand knotted rugs 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 Kazak rugs 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.
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. After export, these rugs are given a chemical wash 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.
Caucasian Rugs Are Made From The Finest Raw Materials
Wool is the most common material used to make Caucasian rugs; other materials include silk, cotton, linen, jute, hemp and bamboo.
Wool is soft and durable, making it ideal for use in rugs. It is available in different weights, from fine to heavy, and comes in various shades.
Silk is strong and resilient, making it perfect for creating rugs. It is also very expensive, so only the finest quality is used.
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 Caucasian Shirvan and Kuba areas.
The rug pile is composed of sheep's wool, but there are a few silk pile rugs. The pile height was chosen in response to the district's topographical setting.
Caucasian rugs are generally red, brown, black, blue, green, yellow, white, orange, purple, pink, grey, tan, cream, silver, gold or combinations thereof. The colours are applied to the warp threads first, and then the weft threads are added.
The colours are vibrant and contrasted. Despite trade names like "Kuba," "Shirvân," or "Talish," regional attribution of rugs 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.
Patterns, Styles & Common Designs
Caucasian rugs are generally symmetrical. Most designs consist of simple shapes, such as circles, squares, triangles, diamonds and hexagons. There are also more complex designs, such as flowers, animals, birds, insects and plants.
Most designs have a central medallion surrounded by smaller motifs. The colours may vary depending on the type of material being used. Wool rugs tend to use natural shades, while silk rugs use bright colours.
Typically, Caucasian kilims and palaces are styles typically woven in a single piece. The tapestry structure is a split weave. To create a web look, the warp ends are knotted. A typical motif is 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.
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. Symbolic messages of power can be found on some rugs in the design and colours.
A few Caucasian rugs 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 the Russian aristocracy and nobles.
Caucasian rugs are traditionally woven on a handloom. This method produces a flat weave pattern. A Caucasian weaver uses two horizontal threads called warp beams and one vertical thread called a woof beam.
The colours are dyed onto the fibres before being woven. Wool and silk yarns are most commonly used. Cotton yarns have been used occasionally.
Some carpets use natural dyes, while others use synthetic dyes. Natural dyes include indigo, madder root, cochineal, wood and logwood. Synthetic dyes include acid dyes, basic dyes, direct dyes, reactive dyes and disperse dyes.
Most Caucasian rugs are woven in a plain weave pattern. The number of rows varies depending on the size of the rug.