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Old June 30th, 2018, 02:52 PM   #1
Joy Richards
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Default Caucasian Prayer Rug

I'm an amateur at this and have looked through Kaffel but came up only with a hint (page 33) that the handwritten note may be right in the comment about the Lesghi connection. So here are my pictures, including the note which was attached. Some of the words are indecipherable but the paper on which it's written, seems quite old!

I would be very grateful for any comments, thoughts, attribution, dates, anything. At the very least, I hope it is of some interest and I hope I can answer any potential questions.









The note:

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Old June 30th, 2018, 05:47 PM   #2
Rich Larkin
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Hi Joy,

That is a sweet little prayer rug! The size is unusual, and very portable. If you were taking it to the mosque, you could put it in your handbag.
I particularly like the inner border on red.

You must have looked into the significance of the two cartouches with numbers. To take the obvious line, it is the same number twice, viz., 134. But other possibilities could be advanced, based partly on the slight differences in the way some of the numerals are written.

If a fourth numeral were added, one would think it was an Islamic date in the 1920s.

I tend to take all the regional attributions in the Caucasus with a grain of salt, so it is interesting that the writer of the label places the rug in West Lesghistan. I wonder what diagnostic characteristics one would look for in East Lesghistan. BTW, is the label paper? It looks like cloth on the screen.

Congrats if it is your rug!

Rich
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Old June 30th, 2018, 06:31 PM   #3
Joy Richards
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Default Caucasian Prayer Rug

Thank you, Rich, for your enthusiastic comments! It is indeed mine, as of yesterday.
Now that you mention it, we've looked at the note again and my husband says it's definitely cloth, and it looks quite aged.
Given the comments in that note and the mention of 'Armenian characteristics', perhaps it explains why the date is a little strange. You read them as '134' but in what language?
I wonder too about the horizontal line about two thirds down of a different colour. The back doesn't appear to show that this is a repair. Is it intentional? And if so, is it where the knees go?!
The real colours are much nicer than what shows up in the pictures and is one of the very appealing things about it.
You may also have noticed how the fringe has been repaired part of the way with a diagonal stitch.
I love it and can't wait to hang it.
Joy
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Old June 30th, 2018, 07:52 PM   #4
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Hi Joy,

Armenians have been closely involved with handwoven rugs in several contexts historically, and especially with Caucasians. (Just to be clear, your rug is without question Eastern Caucasian, produced north of Iran and close to the western shore of the Caspian Sea.) There is a lot of opinion with competing claims in those regards (i. e., the precise roles of Armenians), and I have no extensive knowledge about it. I would speculate that the writer of the label (very possibly, a dealer) was Armenian, and had opinions about specific designs favored by Armenian weavers.

The numbers are of the Arab form, which is employed by many Middle Eastern language groups (including the entire Arab world, though your rug is not Arab). The 'four' in particular (which takes two different forms) might be thought to indicate Persian influence, though I wouldn't push that notion too hard. However, numbers in Armenian script would be nothing like that, but rather in the form with which Europeans would be familiar (albeit a rather 'stately' version thereof). That is, the Armenian alphabet is unlike either the Arabic or European, but their numerals are European in form.

Rugs with dates often reflect the Islamic calendar, which started in 626 M. E. There are (at least) two versions, depending whether the year is solar (365 days) or lunar (354 days). That is a whole 'nother can of worms! Rugs from the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries tend show 13-something; thus, my suggestion about your rug. I would say those numbers are trying to be a date, but missing a digit.

This sort of thing is not unusual. For starters, '1340' would have required only a simple dot after the last number, one knot in the rug. Furthermore, it is very possible the weaver was illiterate, and copying the date from some other source; and she didn't see the dot! Who knows. Anyway, this gives you plenty of material with which to mesmerize your dinner guests.

Almost certainly, the horizontal bar of lighter color was not intended for a functional reason, and rather reflects a dye aberration of some kind. Does it show similarly on the back?

The cross stitching at the ends is the most frequently encountered method by which professional repairers secure ends so that they will not unravel (any further than they already have!).

There are some Caucasian mavens on this site who may jump in here and give you additional commentary. Good luck with your rug!

Rich
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Old June 30th, 2018, 09:19 PM   #5
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Hi Rich

It's not unheard of for inscribed Caucasian rugs to have what looks like a date but with only 3 numerals. As you note, the zero is just a dot, and can be overlooked by an illiterate weaver. But it doesn't necessarily have to be the final digit. This one might hav been intended to be 1340 AH (around 1925 AD) or 1304 AH (around 1895 AD). I'm bothered by the absence of the usual handle-looking device that precedes the first digit of a date. My inclination is to not let the inscription absorb too much of my attention.

Steve
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Old July 1st, 2018, 12:10 AM   #6
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Well, she may have been illiterate, but astounding how the brain works its ways. And Steve, whatever date it is, it's older than any of us and it doesn't matter.
And thank you, Rich, for all that information. The stitching on the back is the same colour as it appears on the front, so I think you're right that it's a dye aberration. It doesn't bother me.
The only other scant information that came with it was "South Caucasian Prayer Rug, possibly dated 1912, Late 19th/Early 20th Century."
Have learned far more from you already. Thank you both again.
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Old July 1st, 2018, 03:57 AM   #7
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Hi Steve,

The "handle-looking" device would be the letter "h" for hegira. But it doesn't appear in the majority of alleged dates (i. e., years) in my experience.

I do agree that all inscriptions, including dates, must be taken with some skepticism.

Rich
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Old July 1st, 2018, 12:19 PM   #8
Filiberto Boncompagni
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Hi Joy,

First, having checked for the meaning of “mavens” (thank you Rich for enriching my vocabulary) I have to state that if there are any mavens on Turkotek, I am not one of them.

I do not deny the “Caucasomaniac” label having spent many of my younger years buying books on Caucasian rugs and textiles and studying them, perusing the internet on the subject and amassing a lot of related digital imagery.

I scanned most of the above-mentioned documentation and I didn’t find any rug similar to yours.

I am afraid I cannot add more information to the one you already have and I agree with the comments of Rich and Steve.

Which makes this post rather pointless, doesn’t it?

Oh, yes, one thing… I bet the colors of your prayer rug are more brilliant of the ones appearing in your photos. This is not a critic: I know how difficult is to capture the vividness of an oriental rug.

So… Joy, congratulations and en-Joy it

Regards,

Filiberto
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Old July 1st, 2018, 04:22 PM   #9
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Hi Filiberto,
Quote:
I have to state that if there are any mavens on Turkotek, I am not one of them.
Au contraire, mon ami.

You were right up there when I came up with "mavens."
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Old July 11th, 2018, 11:49 PM   #10
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From Ken: "I think it is rare to have the harshang border on a prayer rug. This type of border is more associated with the Karabakh region.

I am unfamiliar with the inner border pattern.

The flowers (shield) in the field are associated with the Eastern side of the Caucasus (Kuba, Shirvan, Derbent)

The 3 cord naturally colored selvedge also reminds me of Kuba rugs from the 1920's."

Now, after days of scouring through all my books and hundreds of pictures online, I remembered your note way back and I think you're right in your opinion. The rug is a bit of this and a bit of that, (which I understand most Caucasians are) but the border on the Karabagh rug from Chelaberd shown on page 150 of Ian Bennett's Oriental Rugs and Carpets, and on the Karabagh rug on page 151, are exactly the same as on mine. And, staying with Ian Bennett, the Kuba rug from Chichi has very similar 'shields' in the field as mine, although mine aren't as detailed. To be honest, I don't know whether these are called shields, so someone please tell me the correct name. I ask, because on page 157 under Rugs of Daghestan and Lesghistan "...... are some magnificent pieces with rows of shield medallions containing heraldic-like devices which are, in fact stylized flowers." They could also be 'palmettes' I think they're called.
What I don't have is a book/dictionary/encyclopedia that could teach me the nomenclature of all the symbols and designs, but I don't know if we're allowed to recommend on the site? Wesley Marquand has suggested Peter Stone's Tribal and Village Rugs - The Definitive Guide to Design Pattern and Motif and I also wondered about The Oriental Carpet: A History and Guide to Traditional Motifs, Patterns and Symbols by Ford. Just to further the addiction. If we're not allowed, my apologies Steve and Filiberto.
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Old July 12th, 2018, 07:38 AM   #11
Filiberto Boncompagni2
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Hi Joy,

About Ken’s comment and your conclusion “the rug is a bit of this and a bit of that, (which I understand most Caucasians are)”...
Yes, very often the design of Caucasians borrows elements from other Caucasian groups, so we have to look at the structure. In your case, it’s the selvedge - as Ken says - that points to an Eastern, probably Kuba, origin.
By the way, what about the knot density in your rug?

I don’t remember why those elements are called shield or palmettes (I am not home and I cannot check my books).

It’s absolutely OK to discuss about rug-books on Turkotek.
Of the ones you mention: both are valid and you should have them but Stone’s is the one you need if you look for nomenclature of symbols and designs and associations with the weaving group that used them.
Regards,
__________________
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Old July 12th, 2018, 03:47 PM   #12
Rich Larkin
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Hi Joy,

I agree with everything Filiberto said. I would add that any book by Jim Ford is well worth a perusal. He stands out among rug authors when it comes to putting out reliable information.

About the nomenclature for design elements in Caucasian rugs, although I am sure there is plenty of it, I do not believe there are generally accepted lists of vocabulary items such as you might find for Turkoman rugs. I do not intend to dissuade you from pursuing this line, but you will probably not find the equivalent of, say, the names of guls. Dyrnak gul, kepse gul, etc. These last are widely accepted items of Turkoman jargon.

Rich
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Old July 12th, 2018, 04:38 PM   #13
Ken Shum
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joy Richards View Post
Now, after days of scouring through all my books and hundreds of pictures online, I remembered your note way back and I think you're right in your opinion. The rug is a bit of this and a bit of that, (which I understand most Caucasians are) but the border on the Karabagh rug from Chelaberd shown on page 150 of Ian Bennett's Oriental Rugs and Carpets, and on the Karabagh rug on page 151, are exactly the same as on mine.
This (Crab) border is probably the most common style from that region.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joy Richards View Post
And, staying with Ian Bennett, the Kuba rug from Chichi has very similar 'shields' in the field as mine, although mine aren't as detailed. To be honest, I don't know whether these are called shields, so someone please tell me the correct name. I ask, because on page 157 under Rugs of Daghestan and Lesghistan "...... are some magnificent pieces with rows of shield medallions containing heraldic-like devices which are, in fact stylized flowers." They could also be 'palmettes' I think they're called.
These shields were palmettes or stylised flowers in earlier renditions. The curvilinear designs eventually became more geometric and the palmettes/flowers began to look like shields.
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Old July 12th, 2018, 06:49 PM   #14
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Thank you Filiberto, Rich and Ken. You're all such good patient teachers. Now at least I know the name of one of these borders!
I have ordered the Stone, and went out to look for it first but came back with Sotheby's Guide to Oriental Carpets and Krody's Flowers of Silk and Gold from the Textile Museum instead.
I hope you all don't mind my breathless excitement, but I'm just a beginner, and you probably all remember how it was when you first became afflicted with this bug.
I made my first attempt to count the knots on this little prayer rug, following the instructions I found online - and know for sure it's 16 knots horizontally, because they're easier to count, but being more difficult going down, I'm not sure whether it's 16 or up to 19, so between 256 and 304 kpsi. Is that any help in locating where it may have been woven?
Schurmann's [I]Caucasian Rugs[I] was just dropped off by mailman. It has what looks like a hole from the third page in that goes through almost 200 pages. Everything is legible, but my better half thinks it looks like bullet hole. He's Bulgarian, and not a romantic, so who knows where it's been.
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Old July 12th, 2018, 07:00 PM   #15
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Hi Joy

If he's Bulgarian and thinks it's a bullet hole, I'd go with that. Sounds like somebody got shot while reading it. Is the exit hole on the back cover or on page 3?

Steve
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Old July 12th, 2018, 07:44 PM   #16
Joy Richards
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Steve,
You've clearly met a few Bulgarians ...
The hole is on the third page in. Is that a wild guess or is it something you already know?!
The last page with an actual cut in the paper is 128, the picture of a Kasim Ushag Karabagh. The very last page of the book, however, shows the pressure of whatever caused the damage. The hard cover, both front and back, is untouched.
Joy
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Old July 12th, 2018, 07:46 PM   #17
Joel Greifinger
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Default Counting knots

Quote:
I made my first attempt to count the knots on this little prayer rug, following the instructions I found online - and know for sure it's 16 knots horizontally, because they're easier to count, but being more difficult going down, I'm not sure whether it's 16 or up to 19, so between 256 and 304 kpsi.
Hi Joy,

Keep in mind when you are counting knots that each knot goes around two warps to form two nodules or lumps on the back. So, when you are counting horizontally, in general the number of knots is half the number of nodules. I say 'in general' because in some weaves where the warp is severely depressed, only one of the two nodules is visible on the back. With more moderate warp depression, both are visible but one only partially.


If you'd post a close-up of the back of your rug with a coin or ruler for scale, we can all count along with you.


Joel Greifinger
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Old July 12th, 2018, 07:53 PM   #18
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Hi Joy

I knew the hole began or ended on page three because you said it went from the third page on in. From your description, page 3 has the entrance hole and it never exited.

Steve
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Old July 12th, 2018, 08:18 PM   #19
Ken Shum
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Joy,

There is a second variation to the crab border which is more ornate that in most likelihood begat the type found on yours.



Ken

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joy Richards View Post
Thank you Filiberto, Rich and Ken. You're all such good patient teachers. Now at least I know the name of one of these borders!

Last edited by Ken Shum; July 12th, 2018 at 08:31 PM.
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Old July 12th, 2018, 09:25 PM   #20
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Yes, thank you Ken. I'm learning how important borders (and selvedges) are in the search for a source. It seems that deconstructing Caucasian rugs is more difficult than Persian, Turkomen, Afghan and Anatolian. The ruggedness of their landscape maybe. I hope to evolve to a point where I'm asking less tedious questions!
Joy
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