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Something about Caucasian Rugs

Updated on October 6, 2011

Caucasian Rugs

Caucasian rugs are rugs that are woven in the area that straddles Europe and Asia. This land stretches from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea. The area has always been turbulent, and the rugs reflect the deep passions of its people. For a long time the Caucasus were part of the Persian Empire. Though the Caucasus was an outpost of the empire and difficult to access, the Persian influence can be seen in Caucasian rugs.

The Caucasus were divided into provinces that were ruled by khans who were enamored of Persian culture. Often, they had Persian rugs and other artificats and artwork imported from Persia into their domains. They probably also had the weavers of the rugs imported as well. Young girls of the Caucasus were taught how to weave Persian carpets, and when they were married off and went to live with their husbands they wove rugs from memory, incorporating the few designs that they remembered.

When the Caucasus was taken over by the Soviet Union, artisans continued to weave rugs, but now in cooperatives and factories. A lot of the distinctive styles of the rugs made in this or that village were lost, and the rugs were woven with patterns based on what can be called generic Caucasian designs. Still, the quality of the rugs was quite high. Now, the name of a Caucasian rugs reflects its quality instead of the place where it’s from. Shirvan may be a district in the Caucasus, but it’s also supposed to mean that the rug being bought is of the highest quality. However, rugs of inferior quality that have traditional Shirvan designs can also be marketed as Shirvan rugs. Moreover, other Shirvan-quality rugs may employ designs from a region like Ingushetia or Dagestan and be sold under the name of the region, instead of Shirvan.

The quality of Caucasian rugs are designated as Shirvan, which is the best, Kazak, the second best and Derbend, which is the third best. Shirvan style rugs are divided into Azerbaijan and Armenian subgrades. The quality of an Azerbaijan rug is a little higher than a Armenian. Derbend grade rugs are subdivided into Dagestans and Mikrans, and the Kasak rugs are, as a rule, not subdivided at all.

Motifs found on Caucasian rugs are the cross and the anchor, and the Perepedil, or ram’s horn, which is also found in the rugs of Northwest Persia. Medallions, or center motifs, found in Caucasian rugs are the Eagle and Cloud Bank, both of them Kazak designs. Caucasian rugs tend to be low or low to medium priced, and their good quality makes them a bargain. However, because so many of them were standardized after the Soviet takeover, their resale value is also low.


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