During recent years antique Caucasian rugs have exerted a greater appeal to connoisseurs than was hitherto the case. Prayer rugs or namazliks are not so dominant as they are in the Turkish group, though quite a large number occur from time to time, particularly in Daghestans. In general, Caucasian rugs are very colourful, and therein lies their appeal. All Caucasians are made with a Turkish knot.


The largest group is undoubtedly the Kazak, wherein there are a number of subdivisions which are generally ignored by most collectors, with the exception of Chelaberds, often called 'Eagle Kazaks', which are really from the Karabagh area and Bordjalous. Kazaks, in general, are woven from thick lustrous wool with a longer pile than most other rugs, and the texture is sturdy and usually fairly coarse, with knotting varying between 6.5 and 14 sq cm (42 to 90 sq in). Colours are strong, and include
green, red, blue, yellow, white and brown, and the drawing of the designs is clear-cut and vigorous. Warp and weft are both of wool; the weft, usually dyed red or brown, crosses two, three or even four times between every two rows of knots.

Patterns are very varied, ranging from extreme simplicity with large areas of solid colour bearing disjointed motifs to several large medallions of different colours on a ground filled with small motifs. Borders are small in comparison with the remainder of the rug. The main stripe can vary from the most common 'crab' pattern, to the leaf-and-wineglass, or the reciprocal sloping latch hook, or consist of rows of stylized rosettes.

The so-called 'Eagle Kazaks' have similar wool, but the whole of the field is occupied by one, two or three sunburst patterns that give a wild and untamed effect. Borders are usually in the 'crab' pattern.


Equally as numerous as Kazaks are the antique Shirvans, but usually they are very different in styling, design and texture. Knotting varies from 8.75 to 22.25 to the sq cm (56 to 144 sq in) and the rows of knots have a slightly wavy appearance from the back, which is not ridged. Colours are mostly blue, red, ivory, with some yellowish tan and occa­sionally green, and the designs mostly tend to be a number of angular medallions occupying the centre of the field, with the remainder of the space filled with small unrelated motifs as in the manner of nomad rugs. There are many other designs to be found in this group however, both in field and border, but by far the commonest border design is the leaf- and-wineglass.


Currently very popular, but rapidly becoming scarcer, are the flatweave Soumaks, a form of kelim with loose ends of weft threads hanging at the back, and the design on the surface effected in a flat chain stitch, while there are also separate weft threads additional to those employed in creating the design. The field usually contains three or four large diamond- shaped medallions stretching the full width of the field, with flattened octagons in their centres and in the triangular areas remaining at the sides of the medallions. The main colours employed are blue, red, brown, a little yellow and some ivory, and the warp and weft are both of wool.


Although less frequently encountered than the Shirvans, the Daghestan rugs are very popular with collectors. They have a short pile, which gives an incisive clarity to the designs, and they are some of the firmest textured rugs in the Caucasian group. Both prayer rugs and other types of rugs are encountered, the only difference in their treatment being the inclusion of a geometrical mihrab.

The fields and spandrels are covered with the same design, which is usually a diaper pattern in which the diamond shapes carry a very highly stylized small floral spray, the whole designed in blue, red, ivory, green and yellow on an ivory ground. The main border stripe is usually com­posed of a series of triangular shapes in contrasting colours.

Knotting varies from coarse, at 8.75 knots, to fine, with 28 knots to the sq cm (56 to 180 sq in). Unlike Shirvans, the rows of knots at the back look straight.

Khila (Baku)

At one time these rugs were more often called Baku, but today's opinion comes down on the side of Khila, although they come from the Baku area. They are different from all other Caucasian rugs in colouring and in design. The colour is duller and not so vivid, and consists of dark and light blue, shades of brown, yellow and tan and black. The main design - and the most usual - is a long narrow field carrying two or more rhomboidal medallions delineated by stepped outlines, with the corners of the field matching the medallions. If several medallions are present, they are set on larger rhombs in a contrasting colour, the intervening half rhombs matching the inner medallions.

The main ornamentation consists of larger boteh or cones which cover the field and are very heavily ornamented and of a strong rectangular form. Knotting is on the coarse side, varying from 6.5 to 15.25 to the sq cm (42 to 99 sq in) and the texture is fairly firm.



Mostly on the coarse side, with knotting varying between a mere 4.5 and 16.75 to the sq cm (30 and 100 sq in). However, there arc few to be found at the finer end of the scale, representing the earlier productions. There are two or three shoots of wool weft between every two rows of knots. Warp is usually wool, though frequently brown goat hair was used. Designs are varied, often with the field occupied by a number of medal­lions, sometimes filled with small stepped rhombs and similar devices. Usually, there are three border stripes, but more in the older and finer pieces. The main colours are red, blue, brown and ivory.


These rugs are nearly always in small sizes, and the fields are covered with either horizontal or diagonal rows of small stepped polygons in differing colours. The most distinctive feature, however, is the main border stripe, which consists of alternate rosettes and diagonal bands which have been squared by the addition of stylized trifoliate forms. Colours are rich, and include light and dark blue, red and ivory, with a little yellow, green and brown. Texture is fairly firm, with knotting varying from 8.75 to 18.50 to the sq cm (56 to 120 sq in), the back being flat and not ribbed.


These rugs are always long and narrow and have an air of character; they are not very common. The most characteristic feature is the main border stripe which is invariably composed of a large rosette alternating with four tiny squared rosettes arranged in a square. Both the rosettes and squares appear in a variety of colours. The field, always long and narrow, is usually blue, often plain, though there might be one or two small rosettes capriciously placed in any position on the field. Very occasionally, the field is covered with eight-pointed stars arranged in a diaper pattern. Texture is rather loose, and knotting coarse, around 16.50 ltd the sq cm 000 sq in).


From the Kuba district comes a great variety of designs and styles, and this also includes the border designs. Nevertheless, they are not difficult to place, having silky wool, fine ordered patterning with a rather Persian styling and a general air of sophistication.

Knotting varies from 6.5 to around 18.5 to the sq cm (42 to 120 sq in), with a fairly closed look on the back, with very little of the warps show­ing, yet the overall texture is rather loose. Patterns may closely follow the Shirvan medallion type or, on the other hand, they may consist of refulgent star shapes arranged in horizontal and diagonal rows, in differing colours, in glowing colours. Again, they might borrow formal­ized rosettes and other devices from other areas, but arrange them in an ordered fashion of their own.

Borders often are of the rosette and bracket type, and usually with three border stripes. But there are many other main stripes, a popular one being of alternate diamond-shaped rosettes and four serrated leaves arranged in a quadrangular form. Colours are rich, with medium and dark blue, red, ivory, sable brown, green and yellow.

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