Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 02-04-2005 01:45 PM:

Condition and Age: let’s guess.

According to the literature, in the Caucasus they have a long established tradition of hanging kilims and rugs to the walls. That is also confirmed by evidence: I saw – and I see - so many Caucasian textiles with hanging loops in the local Hajj’s flea market… and bought a few of them too!
Now, the problem is: how can we judge the age of a textile if it was kept for most of its life on a wall without being exposed to mechanical wear?

Let’s try a little experiment. What do you think of my last acquisition in terms of age and colors?
Here is my kilim: it could be Avar or Kumik but provenance doesn’t matter in this case.

It looks like new. Beautiful shining wool, very fine weave. Dimensions are 306 x 156 cm, average size for this kind of kilims. On the left side there are still the loops used for hanging it.
Colors look good. To me, at least. Are they synthetic? Probably. Or, maybe, only few of them, like the pale green and the orange.
But they look the same in the front and in the back.

Only the blue of the field is has a slight variation – in tone more than in intensity.

Here is a detail of the corner, with two loops.

Your opinion, please, on age and colors.


Posted by Vincent Keers on 02-04-2005 08:07 PM:

Hi Filiberto,

Loops like this are strange. The tension on the wefts and the selvedge should cause problems in time.
I once stated that Russian made vacuumcleaners must have been very expensive or very poor in quality. Most Russian rugs with loops had mothdamage.
I expect the greyish/blue will fade in time if exposed to the sunlight.

So I think this was made before you bought it in Turkey. Semi-old.
But it's a nice, spacious design and shows nice curved wefts

About the Lesgi star. This Lesgi star is the groundplan of old, 17'th century Dutch fortifications.
Here it is:
The arrow is my hidingplace.
Think someone studied this design and has to start all over again. (If he had only asked me

Best regards,

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 02-04-2005 11:31 PM:

half a century


I would posit the age at mid 20th century.
It is possibly later. The world wide depression affected rug countries, too. And WWII was equally harsh on rug weavers. Your rug does not have the harsh colors of the 30's, nor the faded 40's. It may be from the 50's when weavers again had access to "normal" conditions, albeit with contemporaneously available dyes.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 02-05-2005 04:56 AM:

Hi Vincent,

Loops like this are strange. The tension on the wefts and the selvedge should cause problems in time.

Right. Last year I bought this one:

(According to Wright & Wertime’s book it should be “from one of the villages called Padar in Shemakha District”. See ‘Caucasian carpets and Covers', plate X at page 81 and related caption on page 79)

This one has loops on the right side, which is deformed by the hanging. As a result, I was obliged to hang it on the other, more straight, side (but I used a better system, instead of the loops).

The “Padar” has cotton warps, though, while the Avar is all wool. I always understood that cotton foundations are more stable than wool ones, but that is for rugs used on the floor. Which is more resistant to tension, cotton or wool? I don’t know…

It has to be said also that the Avar has a finer weave – hence it’s lighter in weight – than the Padar.

The latter, like the first, shows also almost no difference in color between front and back. To be precise, only the blue field shows a very light discoloration, ilke the Avar one.

So I think this was made before you bought it in Turkey. Semi-old.

I agree on the semi-old, but not on the Turkish provenance. One the reasons is that it shows the very typical weave, borders and color scheme of the Avar-Kumik of Daghestan. The second is that I don’t think it could be a Turkish fake modeled on a Daghestani type: it was a pilgrim from Daghestan who sold it, and I paid ONLY $145 for it. .

I’ll disclose the third reason later when I will answer to Patrick.



Posted by Vincent Keers on 02-05-2005 07:27 AM:

Hi Filiberto,

All I say is based on the image and what you tell us.

The shiny wool effect can't be from hanging against a wall. But it hasn't been used on the floor because of the loops (at least the loops suggest different) so this kilim has seen a rolling-mill.
I do not say that I know this, but the loops and the shiny wool and the straight selvege create confusion.

Think those pilgrims are running back and forth between Daghestan and the market you vissit. You've paid more than an average purchaser of a huge discount, (the pick it up, pay and get lost shop) would have paid for this kilim together with 600 other kilims.
So in the end everybody is happy. The weaver (I hope) the "pilgrim" and you.

Tha's all.

Best regards,

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 02-05-2005 11:33 AM:

Hi Vincent,

I’m afraid you were mislead by my use of the word “shining”. Perhaps “lustrous” could have been better, but my Webster’s says that they are synonyms.

What I meant is that the wool looks like good hand-spun one, not like the dull, opaque, machine-spun wool. Forget the rolling mill, it’s not the case here.

And no, the Caucasian flat weaves sold by the pilgrims aren’t of the mass- produced type, although sometimes they sell also Persian ones that are evidently cheap large-scale new products.
The range of Caucasian kilims or soumaks they offer vary from old, ragged fragments to semi-old, recent or almost new ones with some harsh dyes.
You cannot find the same type by the dozen, like in the Persian variety…
Age, conditions and dimensions vary, but there is always some continuity, especially in structure and design (designs in Caucasian flat weaves were more respectful of tradition than their piled counterpart).
And very often they have dates and inscriptions on them.

I think there is still a lot to learn about Caucasian flatweaves, and even the study of the more recent ones could give some clues on their past

Here is another example. I took a photo of this one last year (I could have done better, though):

See the date? I noticed the kilim because I was born in 1952 too . Colors and conditions are very similar to the two illustrated above. This one had cotton warps, if I remember well. And hanging loops, of course!
I thought the design was a modern version of the “shield carpets”.
Than I discovered this kilim on Hali # 68, page 149 (year 1993 – it shoud be sold by now, I hope)

Now, that “1800 or earlier” sounds a bit optimistic to me. But, even if it was 1900 or earlier, I find the continuity of style rather intriguing and interesting, don’t you think?

Note to Patrick : be patient, I’ll explain you later…



Posted by Vincent Keers on 02-05-2005 12:17 PM:

Hi Filiberto,

The Hali kilim shows the original warp finish.

I agree. The Hali kilim dating is far to optimistic. Cold be 1920'ties if used on a floor or on a wall with moth's that setled down. (I've handled better pieces, in better shape but this was in the 80'ties)

I'll rest my case. Continuing this, whitout having the kilim under hands doesn't bring us any further.
Turkish/Daghestan. !970/2004

Best regards,

Posted by James Blanchard on 02-05-2005 03:35 PM:


You might remember this Shirvan with somewhat unusual design element. Horst Nitz suggested that there were some similarities to Daghestan designs.

I haven't seen any Daghestan pile rugs that have a close resemblance, but I think I see similarities between the designs on these Daghestan kilims and the design on the Shirvan. But maybe I am imagining things....


Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 02-06-2005 04:41 AM:

Hi James,

As a matter of fact, Peter Stone attributes the minor “Floret” borders in your rug to Daghestan – see “Tribal and Village Rugs The Definitive Guide to Design, Patter and Motif”, page 136.
The book gives also a few references, albeit one of them is confusing because it points to a Moghan rug (in Kaffel’s “Caucasian Prayer Rugs”page 85).

The reference related to Gans-Ruedin “Caucasian Carpets” (p.316) is the picture of a “Lesghi” rug with three Lesghi Stars on a red field. The main (leaf-and-calyx on a white field) and minor borders are quite like yours.

But the “Floret border” is not used exclusively in Daghestan, as the Moghan example points out. Sometimes it’s also difficult to discern between Shirvan, Kuba and Daghestan rugs.
I’m afraid you are stuck with the “probably Shirvan” attribution, for the time being.



Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 02-06-2005 06:01 AM:

Dear all,

I have to confess that I mislead you: my Avar kilim is dated and (I guess) signed.

I hid the inscription manipulating the image because I thought it could influence your judgment.
I could have mentioned the date without revealing it, but I was afraid it could sort of intimidate you… As it turned out I could have mentioned it as well, because only two of our members volunteered to express an opinion anyway… and I thank them very much.

Here is an unedited close up of the upper end of the kilim.

Congratulations to Patrick, right on the target!

And a detail of the inscription in Russian:

I transliterate it as “Rabeeyat”, probably the weaver’s name. Any different idea?

Detail of the date:

Sorry, Vincent, no hard feelings I hope…
As a consolation for you I swear that, even having the rug in my hands, if it wasn’t for the dated inscription I would have thought it was post-1980! (But NOT Turkish…)

So, the inscription in Russian rules out any Turkish connection: there is no point for a Turkish weaver to copy a modern un-collectible Russian kilim. If the date was, let’s say, 1905, it could have been possible, but then they would probably have used better dyes and tried to age it artificially… and sold it at a greater price.

One could argue that dates on rugs, especially Caucasian rugs, are not reliable. But in cases like this - and the other kilim dated 1952 – I think the dates are plausible because I see no better explanations: Occam’s razor oblige…

What do you think?

Uh, another point: I know that the vast majority of you will consider that stuff as not collectable… what about the “ethnographic value” of it? I know, this is not the subject of this mini-Salon. However…



Posted by Steve Price on 02-06-2005 09:35 AM:

Hi Filiberto

My Russian is pretty rusty, but rabeeyat might be a variation or misspelling of one of the forms of the Russian verb rabotat, meaning to work or to labor.

During the Soviet period (which includes 1951, of course), most or all of the "republics" in the USSR had two official languages, both of which were taught in the schools and used in all public places. One was the local native tongue, the other was Russian.

As a side issue, not related to rugs, this was greatly resented by the locals in many countries. I was a visiting lecturer in the USSR in 1979, and observed that most of the people I met who were from republics other than Russia and Ukraine would not respond in Russian when spoken to. If they couldn't speak English, they'd talk to me in German. One Lithuanian colleague told me that Russian is a foreign language, and corrected me to German every time I slipped and used the Russian word for Lithuania.


Steve Price

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 02-06-2005 10:31 AM:

Hi Steve,

I transliterated the “H” phonetically with the sound “ee” instead of using an “i” like in “Italy”. If you use an ”i” it’s “Rabiyat”.
I googled Rabiyat:

It turns out a lot of Rabiyat(s) are Arabian mares. But it’s also a woman name: the following link mentions “Rabiyat Aslanova, deputy chairwoman of the parliamentary commission for human rights,” in Azerbaijan.

I love Google.



Posted by Steve Price on 02-06-2005 10:47 AM:

Hi Filiberto

Sounds like a woman named Rabiyat wove the rug in 1951.


Steve Price

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 02-06-2005 11:30 AM:

Yup! And, Steve, about the use of Russian, I think the situation in Caucasia was different from the rest of the U.R.S.S.: there are so many different languages and dialects that Russian language, if not welcomed, was easily adopted as “lingua franca”.

Furthermore, if I well remember, I read that some of the languages had no written alphabet, so they had to use for writing either the Arabic or the Cyrillic one.



Posted by Steve Price on 02-06-2005 12:12 PM:

Hi Filiberto

I met an Armenian family and some members of the Georgian National Dance Company, none of whom would use Russian although they were taught it in school. I'm sure that at some levels the use of a common language (Russian) was convenient in the Caucasus, but the folks I met had strong feelings of nationalism and greatly resented the imposition of the Russian language (as well as the Soviet attitudes toward their religions).

When the USSR collapsed, ethnic Russians were poorly treated in many of the former member states, probably a manifestation of this resentment.


Steve Price

Posted by R. John Howe on 02-07-2005 12:18 AM:

Dear folks -

Waaaay back in this thread, Vincent Keers suggested at one point that perhaps the "Lesghi star" had an ancient design source.

I don't know whether he was suggesting this seriously or not, but I have heard a different suggestion.

It is twofold. First, some apparently feel that the "Lesghi star" is a quite recent design and second that it is one that has no "tribal roots" (as it were) but instead was created by the rotation and reflection of a simple triangular form that is visible at the ends of its angled "legs." It is simply a geometric elaboration of that triangle.

I cannot remember the source, but perhaps Wendel Swan will if he reads this.


R. John Howe

Posted by Cevat Kanig on 02-07-2005 01:46 AM:

Hi to All,

I think that 8 pointed stars are Seljuk star, here are acouple 19 th. century konya carpets, you can also see eigth pointed stars all seljuk carpets and tiles.


Cevat Kanig

Posted by Wendel Swan on 02-07-2005 03:49 PM:

Hi John and all,

I presented a poster session on the Lesghi star at ICOC in Milan in 1999, wherein I suggested that the Lesghi star is not found in rugs or textiles predating 1850.

My belief then was, and remains, that the Lesghi star was created in the second half of the 19th Century (quite possibly for commercial purposes) by applying the principals of design symmetry to this relatively simple and common element, called a serif on ascender. The shape is translated, reflected and rotated so that the shape itself does not change, but its orientation does. The process was repeated until the “Lesghi star” was created.

I do believe that the ancient roots of the serif on ascender are in calligraphy and I’ve started again on making that connection.

The technique for creating the border in the second rug posted by Cevat Kanig is essentially the same as that used to create the Lesghi star.

The “Lesghi star” design has no known relationship to the Lesghi people and the moniker may be as fictitious as many other names applied to Caucasian rugs.

In its early forms, such as in Shirvans, the Lesghi star is quite uniform and precise, but that precision declined rather rapidly. There are many sumak weavings with the Lesghi star, but for the most part that medium did not accurately copy the model and Filiberto’s kilim, while clearly still a Lesghi star, also has significant departures from the original form.

The two rugs posted by Cevat Kanig do not have Lesghi stars. They are 8-pointed stars with serrated edges, something not uncommon in Turkish weaving.


Posted by Cevat Kanig on 02-07-2005 07:57 PM:

Hi to All,

Here is a seljuk fragment, Could you check out the bordur please.
There is a similarty between the " hook" that Wendel Swan posted.
The diffrents between this two hook is only time periot. { Design Transformation} that is what i Think.


Cevat Kanig

Posted by Wendel Swan on 02-07-2005 08:05 PM:

Hello Cevat,

You are correct that there is a relationship between the border elements in the Seljuk rug and those in the Lesghi star. The Seljuk border is a form of calligraphy.


Posted by Chris Countryman on 02-07-2005 10:04 PM:

Lesghi Star origin

Hi all,
The different discussions of the Lesghi star reminded me of a conversation I had with Dennis Dodds at ACOR in Indianapolis. He said that he had published an article in Hali that said that the star was composed of an Arabic (?) letter rotated at 90˚ intervals and reassembled into one figure. I do not remember anything else about it, but I do find it a moving field device in south Caucasus rugs.

Peace out.

Posted by Vincent Keers on 02-07-2005 10:09 PM:

Hi Filiberto,

Hi John,
Yes I was
But.....let's see. Yep the Lesgi design looks like my town. (And the eightpointed star etc.)
After the Spanish slaughterd all inhabitants a couple of centuries ago, yep, no one left, the Dutch decided they needed arrows at the sides of the gull so they could put guns on the arrows that could shoot at every direction without shooting their own people.
It helped, most of the time.

Best regards,
Vincentio de la Jeers

Posted by Tim Adam on 02-08-2005 12:25 AM:

Leshgi Star

Hi Wendel,

I find the topic of the origin of the Leshgi Star very interesting. Maybe it warrants a new thread?

What I am wondering is why you consider your theory to be more likely than Cevat's point that the Leshgi Star is a derivative of the 8-pointed stars often found in Turkish weavings?



Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 02-08-2005 12:58 PM:

I found on the Net another kilim Avar with almost the same Lesghi star variant of mine. A flatwave trend?

Said to be late 19th century.



Posted by Wendel Swan on 02-08-2005 03:02 PM:

First, Chris, my analysis and Dennis' theory are not mutually exclusive. He postulates that the elements of a Lesghi star are geometric variations of letters praising Allah. I have only tried to explain how the Lesghi star was created using principles of symmetry.

I don't believe, and I'm not sure that Dennis does, that the Lesghi star design remains calligraphic, but only that its origins may be in calligraphy. I first heard him discuss this about 17 years ago. The Seljuk border fits right into Dennis' thoughts and mine as well.

Second, Tim, I have read Cevat's post but I don't read it as proposing that the Lesghi star is a variant of an eight pointed star or, if so, how it came to be. Obviously, the Lesghi star design has eight points, but eight pointed stars are ubiquitous. In the broadest sense, I suppose one could call it a variation, but I believe it was created independently and didn't travel beyond relatively narrow geographical limits.

The Lesghi star design can be compared to a jigsaw puzzle, wherein the pieces (the serif with ascender as reflected and rotated) fit together quite precisely. Once you see a wireframe diagram of it, the conclusion is, at least in my opinion, obvious.


Posted by Cevat Kanig on 02-09-2005 01:54 AM:

Hi All,

First, i would like to express that Lesghi star is originated 8 pointed Seljuk star's calligraphic form. Wendel confirm that it is a calligraphy and has 8 pointed star.

If you like to create a new design, from a 8 pointed star, believe me you can create as much as you want, whether with calligrafy or a flower or Ect. even if i give my son 8 pointed star design, he could create diffrent things.

Also There are evidence that they used 8 pointed star form, you can see many of them most caucasion carpets and kilims or oder weavings, one of them is wich Filiberto posted an Avar kilim with lesgi star design, i would like you take a look at the bordur of it and please take a look at the oder star images that i posted before.

Late 15th Century Anatolian Carpet , please take a look at the end and the botom blue bordur , you will see the similarty on Avar's orange bordur calligraphy design.

Last image is just an Anatolian Lesghi Star Design { Avunya }70 or 80 years old.


Cevat Kanig

Posted by Richard Tomlinson on 02-09-2005 07:36 AM:

hi all

8 pointed stars can also be drawn using the negative space in a rug or, as in this case, a shahsavan bagface.

here's a good example.

richard tomlinson

Posted by Tim Adam on 02-09-2005 09:53 AM:


Could you show us your wireframe diagram?



Posted by Wendel Swan on 02-09-2005 02:57 PM:

Dear all,

As requested, the first image is my wireform diagram. Except for lines on the perimeter, the center square and the star in the middle, it was constructed entirely of the serif on ascender element.

Following that is a color version and then you see a Kazak with a Lesghi star design. The drawing in the Kazak is not well articulated. The East Caucasus rugs (mainly Shirvans) are much more precise in the rendering.

I believe that there are 40 serif on ascender elements in the wireframe drawing, if you count those whose ascenders are partially obscured by the central square.


Posted by Cevat Kanig on 02-09-2005 06:14 PM:

Hi to All,

Here are a couple sample of Lesghi star Design wich non of them has star design on the serif on askender,

Lesgi star known as only without or with star design on serif on askender, there are many samples of them.

Lesghi star it self a star design form, from 8 pointed star design with calligrphafic serif on askender, wheter it has star or not on it.

My opinion is lesghi star originated 8 pointed star design wich it found early Anatolian Carpets such as Seljuk Rugs.

Here is a Shahsavan soumak bag face late 19th.Century with Lesghi star design.

This sample shows how they replace element on Serif on Eskender { lesghi Star}
below Lesgi Star Carpets , i do not see any star design on Serif on eskender { lesghi star } as i meantion before it may have or not star design on serif on eskender.

Also Filliberto's posted an Avar kilim with Lesghi star design does not have star design on serif on eskender.

here are a couple sample of the Seljuk star with diffrent elements


Cevat Kanig

Posted by Wendel Swan on 02-09-2005 07:30 PM:

Hello Cevat and all,

The two pile rugs you show are both probably late 19th Century and adhere rather closely to the original model, but virtually all sumak bags are normally just too small to have all the details, so the Lesghi stars in them show rapid deterioration in detail.

I frankly don’t understand your point. If the Lesghi star design originated in Anatolia, then you should have no difficulty in showing pre-1850 examples of it. I have looked. So have others. I’d be delighted to see one, but I don’t think they exist.

As to the ceramics, they are nice but we know that 8-pointed stars are ubiquitous. And they certainly didn’t originate with the Seljuks.


Posted by Cevat Kanig on 02-09-2005 09:20 PM:

Hi Wendel and All,

Lesghi star design originated to Caucasus not Anatolia, i did not say that Lesghi star originated to Anatolia. I mean Lesghi star is a version of 8 pointed star,we find this design on Seljuk carpets and tiles, Ofcourse Seljuks did not createded this design,before eigth pointed star there was David Star wich i see 2 pyramide joinned together one looks up the oder looks down , i did not search but must be early stars too.

These stars are, from begining to present time, their shapes are changed to different variety, such as Lesghi star. my point is Lesghi star is transformed or you can call some name else such else "improved" design of Eigth pointed star , they improved this design from Seljuk carpet's 8 pointed star. not from oder source.

Shahsavan bag face is Lesghi star Design, could be 120 to 150 years old.


Cevat Kanig

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 02-10-2005 04:59 AM:

Hi Wendel,

Just a thought…

When you say that “the Lesghi star was created in the second half of the 19th Century (quite possibly for commercial purposes)” , I rather understand that you believe the design was born more possibly on a drawing table than on a loom. Sort of what they did sometimes with the Kustar program (only thing, it can’t be a Kustar invention because the Kustars were operative in Caucasus only at the end of 19th century). Am I correct?

Fact is, the more I look at my kilim, the more I see how the Lesghi Star “fits” with the weaving technique.
Here is another example of Avar flatweaves: a chibta i.e. a mat made with wool on sedge fibers - from D. Tchirkov’s “Daghestan decorative art”:

No Lesghi Stars here, but the style is so close that I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of the design born on the loom from a creative weaver… And promptly copied on piled rug.

As I said, it’s just a thought.



Posted by Dave Kradjel on 02-11-2005 02:39 AM:

pre-commercial lesghi star

Hello Wendel,
In Gantzhorn "The Oriental Carpet" '91 ill.'s 348 & 350 are examples with the Lesghi star.The first,an Armenian rug dated 1815 and the second ,what appears to be Turkish,safely pre-1850,likely a bit older.Sorry I don't have a scanner to post images.


Posted by Wendel Swan on 02-11-2005 09:15 AM:

Hello Dave,

The dates inscribed on many Armenian rugs, including Gantzhorn's #348, are often problematic. Many of the inscriptions commemorate an event (birth, marriage, political, historical, familial, etc.), not the date of manufacture. In some rugs with particularly early dates, the old Armenian calendar was used.

I've seen many, many Armenian rugs with synthetic dyes bearing dates far preceding the synthetic era and Gantzhorn's #348 seems to be yet another of them. That rug is probably much closer to 1915 than it is to 1815.

The apparent pattern of fading of some of the reds similarly indicates the presence of fuchsine in Gantzhorn's #350. Although it is an unusual variation of the Lesghi star design, it is not, in my opinion, "safely pre-1850."


Posted by Rob van Wieringen on 02-11-2005 11:50 AM:

Hello Wendel,

I do agree with your rather later dating of Gantzhorns #348, but I have to disagree with you on #350. I do not recognize your supposed faded fuchsine, except for some badly done reparations.

The colours in this rug are looking great and with age in my opinion. Furthermore the special drawing of the fillings in the corners of the 3 Lesghi-squares and the free and open way the rare, most outer border has been excecuted gives me the impression of an age well before 1850.

It looks like it has been made in West-Anatolië, but this doesn't imply I am a supporter of your seljuk theory, Cevat.

Best regards,


Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 02-11-2005 01:32 PM:

Here is Gantzhorn’s #350

Oh, yes, Western Anatolia…

Incidentally, the similarity in design between some Western Anatolian rugs and certain Caucasian sumaks always baffled me. And Lesghis were the primary makers of sumaks, it seems.


Posted by Wendel Swan on 02-11-2005 02:53 PM:

Dear readers,

We are all on treacherous grounds when we try to guess, particularly in some instances, age or provenance based upon the colors or texture of internet images. So a good deal of caution must be exercised. The Gantzhorn book does not have particularly good images to begin with; scans of them become even more problematic.

While synthetics seem to be conceded in #348, I see in #350 several indications of synthetic reds. Let’s first assume that color changes are not due to repairs, although we certainly don’t know that. The red outline of the Lesghi star shifts in places from red to a golden color and in other places shifts to a lighter shade of red, indicating an unstable and probably synthetic dye in the fuchsine group. The rug may not have the same appearance in the flesh.

#350 is, as I have already observed, unusual in many respects. I can’t recall seeing a Lesghi star in a box and with squinches. When squinches appear in Caucasian or NWP rugs or bags (as in the cruciform medallion sumak bags) at least two are commonly aubergine. In this case the squinches in the center box are gold. That indicates to me that it MIGHT be due to a faded fuchsine.

I might add that the squinches appear to be a somewhat later rendition and the Lesghi stars themselves are what I would describe as devolved. The Lesghi stars in the examples Cevat posted are much more precise.

None of these observations prove the age of Gantzhorn’s #350 of course, but they should raise doubts that the rug is "well before" or "safely pre-" 1850.

As to the origin of #348, I believe that the Caucasus is the most likely source. While the box-like devices in the main border can be seen in some Western Anatolian carpets, it’s also quite common in the fields of the garden design rugs in the Akstafa group.

The rug looks to be more finely woven than one would expect in a Turkish rug and the border system is a bit too regular, balanced and complex for Turkish weaving. Barberpole tertiary borders are a bit more common in Caucasian rugs than they are in Anatolian rugs. The hooked border doesn’t look Turkish, but then it doesn’t look like Shirvan/Kuba either.


Posted by Vincent Keers on 02-11-2005 07:14 PM:

Dear Lesgionairians,

Let's give it try again.
The Lesgi design isn't a design.
It's the result of a tessellation.
Why? Because if a weaver wants to design an "arrow" at a 45 degree angle, that fits in between the birdheads (like Wendels drawing shows) that shouldn't be to difficult. How many well designed arrows do we see in the Lesgi design? Not many. All arrows look like they have been made by Cross-eyed Crooked Nose.
So maybe these aren't ment to look like "arrows" and the "arrows" are the result of the four "birdheads" that are put in a 90 degree angle. Those four "birdheads" can be mirrored and rotatated.
That multiplied with four gives a clean open square in the center.

So, for me the Lesgi isn't a design.
It's an accident with "birds" and some Mother Goddess. Yooh, we're back again. Ganzhorn, Chatal Yuruck and all.

Best regards,

Posted by Wendel Swan on 02-11-2005 08:08 PM:

Ah, Vincent. You understand it.

Perhaps I was not clear in my explanation, but the entire Lesghi star "design" was made with what I called the serif on ascender and what you call the "birdhead." Sometimes I simply refer to it as the "figure 4" element.

The process that I used starts even more fundamentally than your drawing. Yes, it is something like a tessellation. And, yes, it is a process of translating, reflecting and rotating. You start with one and reflect it so that you have two, then you translate the two and you have four, then you copy and rotate those to make 8 and so forth. All until the 40 individual elements create the Lesghi star.

Tile makers could use a similar technique to create patterns since they could use one or two moulds to put together a complex pattern.

I believe that the Lesghi star is an intentional design, with no effort to create arrows as such (just as you say), but those arrow-like appendages are very distinctive.


Posted by Vincent Keers on 02-11-2005 10:37 PM:

Ah Wendel, you understand that I understand it.........well you're one of a kind because I never understand what I understand if I ever understand anything.

But there's one problem.
Did rugdesigners think in wireform diagrams?
What's inbetween the wires is essential.
If we look at the "birdheads" in your "coloured" drawing there are two different sized "birdheads". If the biggest birdhead is taken (one of the two that are on top in the centre, Grey or black) those can't create the birdheads at the corners because then the "arrow" will disappear.
So one Birdhead doesn't create all the birdheads.
Two Birdheads combined will do the trick.
One is bigger then the other and that's what I find essential in this design.
In short.
It's a tessellation of the surrounding space. (In my coloured Lesgi the black part at the left that I mirrored diagonally)
The Lesgi design self can't be made with tessellation of one unique design that could stand on it's own. This isn't essential but it makes things less complicated.

Best regards,

Posted by Rob van Wieringen on 02-12-2005 01:01 AM:


The more I look to this #350, the more I am amazed by your comments on this rug.

I think you should be delighted : this is your sought after pre 1850, Anatolian Lesghi rug!.....and you do not even recognize it!!

I am busy at the moment, but I will be back later for my thoughts about your thoughts on #350.


Posted by Cevat Kanig on 02-12-2005 01:24 AM:

Hi to All,

Filliberto's posted West Anatolian rug is pre 1850. it has only faded restoration work on it no analine dyes. it look like lesghi star except the arrows.

Here is also an early 19th. Century Bergama Carpet looks like Lesghi star except 4 arrow.

I think that in caucasus they just added 4 arrow to make it lesgi star .


Cevat Kanig

Posted by Tim Adam on 02-12-2005 04:30 AM:

Hi everybody,

I am wondering whether the hypothesis that Ganzhorn's #350 is pre 1850 could already be dismissed based on the overall design of the rug? Take a look at the borders, for example. There is no harmony between them. They look like as if the weaver has picked them at random. If we associate old with good aesthetics, then the border composition would make an early date less likely.

My second thought is that Cevat's and Wendel's hypotheses are not necessarily in conflict with each other. The similarities between the eight-pointed star and the Leshgi Star are obvious.

Given that this design has been around for a long time, I would find it implausible to claim that someone created the Leshgi Star from scratch. Rather, I would find it more plausible to say that someone created the Leshgi Star design based on the old eight-pointed star.



Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 02-12-2005 09:10 AM:

Geometry vs. Heredity

Wendel,Tim, Vincent, All

Perhaps we sometimes get carried away with all this .
The central medallion is a constant in the carpert universe, and geometry of design represents the most fundamental of relationship between carpets, yet this in and of itself tells use little of the origin of the design or the weavers themselves. If you follow this link to a discussion of Islamic Cairo and Fatimid architecture (be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page to click on the "more photos" link for detail images) we see all typs of design motifs which are immeditely recognizable as influencing carpet design,

but in itself does not lead to the conclusion that these are of North African origin, even though the Fatimids were

" a Shi'a dynasty originating in North Africa that ruled Egypt from 969 to 1171 A.D. Faithful followers of Caliph Ali, the fourth "Rightly Guided Caliph" in Islam, Fatimids rivalled the Abbassid dynasty, then ruling the Islamic world, by claiming their rightful legacy to the Caliphate based on their direct descent from the Prophet Muhammad."

I would suggest that the most useful relationships which can be demonstrated among carpets is that of "heredity"or consanguinity, the circumstances by which different natural groupings or types of carpets, related by structure, style color, design, ect., present themselves as clusters of definable characteristics and relationships.

We should be cautious when basing affinity upon design or color, structure alone. It would seem that the greater the degree of similarity, among the greater number of characteristics, should indicate the closer relationship. Better to focus on what we can prove rather than speculation.


Posted by Steve Price on 02-12-2005 09:11 AM:

Hi Tim

You wrote, If we associate old with good aesthetics ....

The collector community does, indeed, equate old with good aesthetics. But I think the dependent variable in this equation is aesthetics - the tendency is to define old as beautiful. There's no a priori basis for doing so, in my opinion, and the absurdity of the notion that there is no such thing as a very old rug with lousy aesthetics is obvious as soon as you say it out loud.

There is a tendency for older rugs to be of better aesthetic quality, simply because the ugly ones were less likely to be preserved. But some surely were.


Steve Price

Posted by Cevat Kanig on 02-12-2005 09:19 AM:

Hi to All,

I see Serif but i do not see eskender on lesghi star design.


Cevat Kanig

Posted by Richard Tomlinson on 02-12-2005 10:58 AM:

hi all

it is a dangerous thing for one to make assertions without being able to substantiate one's argument.

however, i think there is a hell of a lot of 'guessing' that goes on in dating rugs.

so, what the hell. i tend to go a lot on 'feel' and instinct.

i must say that i have to agree with rob vw regarding the #850 rug. that rug oozes age. wow, what a rug !!

why? i don't know. but it does.......

the other examples presented in this thread pale into insignificance.

yours ignorantly,

richard tomlinson

Posted by Richard Tomlinson on 02-12-2005 11:23 AM:


i am talking about the #350 rug. that is, the Gantzhorn’s #350


Posted by Rob van Wieringen on 02-12-2005 02:16 PM:

Dear Wendel,

Here are my thoughts about your comments on #350.

You started with: “Let’s first assume that color changes are not due to repairs” seems unnecessary narrowing the options; the color changes are in fact due to the repair done to it, easily recognizable in the book’s picture. So why to skip this out in advance?

I cannot follow you furtheron, in the color shifting/fading of the red Lesghi-outlining you detect.
I just don’t see it. I do see wear, repairs and I see a good red.

Then, clearly in the pre-assumption #350 can only be Caucasian, you impose Caucasian/NW.Persian regularities to it, such as : “When squinches appear in Caucasian or NWP rugs or bags (as in the cruciform medallion sumak bags) at least two are commonly aubergine” and in this one they are gold-yellow, which leads you to think it might be due to a faded fuchsine.
When the pre-assumption about a Caucasian provenance of #350 hadn’t been done in the first place, the need to turn a good gold-yellow into a possible faded fuchsine had not been necessary.

Then the border.
The box-like devices in the border, sometimes called ‘boxed’ kufesque border, are indeed seen in Akstafa rugs, but they are never seen, as far as I know, in any Caucasian rug as a border as on this one.
We can see them however, with astonishing similarity to our #350, in early Lotto rugs of the 16th. Century, which were made in West-Anatolia.

And then there is also to mention :

- the weave of the rug does not look so fine to me at all.

- clearly visible are the red kilim endings, so characteristic for an Anatolian provenance.

- the rare, most outer border, which really strikes me, enhance, in my opinion, to an early date. I have never seen such a border before and I am surprised, Wendel, you didn’t react on it.

Wendel, this is indeed, as you said a rug “unusual in many respects” .
A possible explanation for this might be that the rug #350 is very much older as we think and consequently has a different design vocabulary, as what we are usually expecting to see.



Posted by James Blanchard on 02-12-2005 02:36 PM:

Hi all,

It seems that there are 2 sub-themes intertwining on this discussion; one on age and one on stars and shape.

Regarding the accuracy of age attribution the various discussions call to mind the statistical principles related to precision and accuracy. In this context, precision is the extent to which an individual or a group of individuals will give the same age estimate to the same rug, regardless of whether that estimate is accurate (true). Accuracy is the extent to which age estimation is correct. Ideally, you would want to have an estimator to be both precise (reliable) and accurate, since everbody can get it right once in a while (like the "sharpshooter" who blasts away at a target and occasionally hits the bulls-eye).

Precision (or reliability) of a group can actually be measured without knowing the truth. For example, to measure the precision of age estimation you could have 100 rug collectors independently estimate the age of a given rug and see how much agreement there is. It might be a fun study to do with a range of rug types and general ages. (Does anyone know if this has been done before?)

However, even if all of the group are in relatively close agreement, that does not confirm that the estimation is correct, though it might increase the odds. To assess accuracy you need a "gold standard", or some clear objective evidence of the age. That seems elusive in many cases.

About stars....

The 8-pointed star seems to be a relatively common motif in tribal weavings, and not just in the middle east and west and central asia. Leaving aside the issue as to whether the Leshgi design is a star or something else, weavers seem to like to improvise or "riff" on this basic design.

I am posting a couple of pictures from Miao tribal (south China) textiles. Both have the 8-pointed star as a prominent motif, but notice how much more variation is available when one can use 3 dimensions. In this case, the 3 dimensional space is created by using a "folded silk" technique, which opens up all sorts of new design possibilities.


Posted by Vincent Keers on 02-12-2005 09:52 PM:

Dear Lesgionians,

First the Lesgi again.

And here's the same design.
The Lesgi is white and hidden because of the different tiles.

Next step is........the Hash Gul!
Just wait and see........

Best regards,

Posted by Vincent Keers on 02-12-2005 10:32 PM:


Here it is.

Same design, only some flipping and rotating.

Now I flip out.


Posted by Cevat Kanig on 02-12-2005 10:38 PM:

Hi Vincent,

That looks very interesting, what else can you create with Lesghi Star design ?.


Cevat Kanig

Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 02-13-2005 02:13 AM:

More Confusion?

Rob and All

Filiberto had said something earlier in this thread that I believe worthy of revisiting, that

"the similarity in design between some Western Anatolian rugs and certain Caucasian sumaks always baffled me. And Lesghis were the primary makers of sumaks, it seems".

It is my understanding that the Armenian's have been making carpets since their earliest appearence in this region of the world, and that an Armenian or Caucasian origin has been suggested for these early "Seljuk" carpets, and that this contention is supported by early inventories of trade goods.

While hardly an expert, this main border,reminiscent of the earlier "Lotto" rugs, strikes me as at least kindered to the Kuficborder found in some Perpedil rugs, and it is my understanding that these "Lotto" and "Holbein" were produced over a wide range.

As stated above

"I would suggest that the most useful relationships which can be demonstrated among carpets is that of "heredity"or consanguinity, the circumstances by which different natural groupings or types of carpets, related by structure, style color, design, ect., present themselves as clusters of definable characteristics and relationships",


"We should be cautious when basing affinity upon design or color, structure alone. It would seem that the greater the degree of similarity, among the greater number of characteristics, should indicate the closer relationship. Better to focus on what we can prove rather than speculation".

We seem to be dealing with two categories of rugs, Caucasian and Turkish, and this #350 must more closely resemble one over the other.


Posted by Vincent Keers on 02-13-2005 09:46 AM:

Hi Cevat,

The problem is: I don't use the Lesgi design.
I use the negative space only, in the Lesgi design. As stated before: The Lesgi design can't be made with the use of flipping and rotating only 1 unique item taken from the Lesgi design. And the "arrow" that's never in perfect harmony with the rest of the design (if we look at the rugs) can be the result of something else.

That's no worldshocking news, because most oriental designs are flat (no perspective) so 1 positive design always creates a negative design. Whether we recognize it as a design depends on culture etc. and mental state of mind. And my mental state of mind is always in perfect disorder.

Best regards,

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 02-13-2005 02:03 PM:

Dear All,

James Blanchard sent me the photo he promised in his posting:

Thanks, James.



Posted by R. John Howe on 02-14-2005 10:03 PM:

Dear folks -

I wonder if we could go back to talking about rugs.

Folks who are newer and curious about the underside of some rug world personalities should write Steve on the side. (Although, God knows he has to deal with this stuff too much already.)

Let's not devote ourselves here to the public rehashing of some things that most of us have heard (nearly endlessly and without much purpose) before.


R. John Howe

Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 02-21-2005 07:39 PM:

Gantzhorn #350 Revisited

Greetings All

I just recieved an e-mail from Laurie Barnes, associate curator
of the Department of Middle Eastern, Islamic, and Asian Art of
The Detroit Institute of Arts, in response to my query concerning
Gantzhorn # 350, and containing the following catalogue information.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Department: Islamic Art
Object Name: Rug
Title: Rug
Classification: Rug
Artist: Anatolian
Date Label: 19th Century
object place: Turkey, West Asia, Asia
Medium: Wool
Description: Rug, decorated with three central square units enclosing cruciform medallions against background of small cruciform motifs. Multiple borders with heart-shaped geometric floral motifs, small cruciform patterns and the widest border with linked quadripartite square motifs. Colors: blue, red, brown, white and ochre. Fringed at both ends. Five loops for suspension on reverse.
Dimensions: length (without fringe): 112 x 72 in.
284.48 x 182.9 cm
Image: F49.24
B&W negative: N32242; Full view; Color
35mm color slide: S11858; Full view; Color
Transparency: T1; Full view; Color
Credit Line: Collection of the Founders Society Detroit Institute of Arts

Mz. Barnes concludes with,

" Most of our library is in storage, as we are currently under construction. Therefore, I do not have access to the publication referenced. I have attached information for a study collection object F49.24, which seems to be the work of interest. I hope this information is of help to you".


Posted by Vincent Keers on 02-21-2005 10:33 PM:


If this rug is to be discussed on the net, the least we can do is to look at it as it was made. So the right side up.

I've cut it in half and I pumped up the colour volume.

Left, lower corner is where the knotting started. The image shows that the top half (at the right) is elongated.
This doesn't tell us anything about the time when it was made. But it does tell us something about the circumstances this rug was made.
The circumstances weren't perfect. The loom didn't have the proper equipment to stabilize the warp and weft tension. So it was a simple, straight forward loom.
Something about the hart border. Think this is a very Kurdish 1900/1920 design. Never seen it in any other rugs.

The repairwork is done mostly in the blue. This is strange because indigo should strengthen the wool?
The colours if pumped up, seem Kurdish.

Best regards,

Posted by Dave Kradjel on 02-22-2005 04:52 PM:

ganzthorn # 350

For those interested,there is another rendition of the unusual heart border in Mcmullen" Islamic Carpets " plate xxxvii .
I brought # 350 to Wendel's attention simply because the theory that no lesghi-star design rugs were made before 1850 seems aggressive.As has been discussed ,many people date rugs aggressively based on "feel".I'm one of them.As more or less a neophyte with regard to rug knowledge,I appreciate Wendel's comments on the dyes in #350.The image of the rug was poor but the quality of the dyes were questioned in a way I 'd imagine experienced eyes would question them.
Also ,in Burns "Traditions in Weaving" page 26 is a lesghi-star which he has attached an early date.There seems to be a number of 17th and !8th c. caucasian blossom and dragon carpets in existence,but very few caucasian rugs reliably dated 1800-1850.Where are they?


Posted by Rob van Wieringen on 02-22-2005 08:57 PM:

Dave and all,

"The image of the rug was poor but the quality of the dyes were questioned in a way I 'd imagine experienced eyes would question them".

I agree, it did sound well, but I found the outcome rather questionable.

But it seems that, even when you have the real thing on hand for inspection, you can, as a Detroit curator, miss a green color in #350......!

It would be nice to have Wendel back here and say his thing about #350 again, in respect to his theory.


Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 02-22-2005 09:49 PM:


Rob and All

To be honest, I would think the presence of green more indicative of a poor representation of color than oversight on behalf of a curator, and I do believe that Vincent is suggesting that the blue color, if of natural origin, would not have deteriorated the wool to such an extent as seen, suggesting the presence of a corrosive artifical dye.

Not being intimately familiar with curatorial nomenclature, I am not sure what to make of the term "study collection object ", but I know that when ruggies use it the connotation can be that of euphemism. Interesting that no structural details were included in the description. Telling perhaps?

While these weavings could have some age, possibly exceeding the 1850 barrier, a couple of exceptions would not, in my opinion, invalidate the underlying premise, assuming that a majority of carpets of this design date from the specified time frame and location. We have to go with the evidence, not conjecture.


Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 02-23-2005 06:30 AM:

There seems to be a number of 17th and !8th c. caucasian blossom and dragon carpets in existence,but very few caucasian rugs reliably dated 1800-1850.Where are they?

This question would require a thread for itself. To my knowledge only the “Star Kazak” group (and perhaps the “pinwheel” one, I’m not sure) has examples bearing credible dates in the period 1800-1850. One of them is the first plate in Bennett’s “Caucasian” (1244 A.H. = A.D. 1828/29).

One explanation is that mass weaving of Caucasian pile rugs started after 1850.
Another is that earlier Caucasian rugs were mistaken for Anatolian.
I prefer, for several reasons, the latter.


Posted by Rob van Wieringen on 02-23-2005 07:47 AM:

Well then, this #350 is a late Caucasian, Kurdish rug with a lot of synthetic dyes in it, such as fuchsine turned into yellow and a "corrosive artificial blue" and without any green in it.

I surrender.


Posted by Vincent Keers on 02-23-2005 09:45 PM:

Dear Rob,

Never surrender.
All that's been said is based on an image.
One in The Book and a copy from a copy on this board upside down, in my opinion.
What can we expect from this?
I once received this line from someone that seems to be an authority in this subject. "I sometimes doubt if there has been any rugproduction in the Caucasus before 1850." (This is my version of it) Maybe he'll recognizes it and will tune in...maybe not.
Whatever. I'm not trying to proof anything and I don't think others are. Just putting some question marks and think about the question marks doesn't hurt anybody.
? Why is the rug upside down in the book?
? Why does the image show colours that seem to be tuned down and does it show the original?
? Is it a perfect Lesgi design we see or is it something else?
? Why that damage at those spots?
? Why restored like this?
? What about the size: 284.48 x 182.9 cm?
? If Caucasus production..cottage or workshop (how was the production located before 1850 and after 1850)?
? Technical data?
? etc. etc. ect.

In the end this rug is early Caucasian, all natural dyes for you.
For others it has a few question marks, and all this whitout having the rug in our hands.
So in the end nobody can surrender because the ball was out before the game started.

met vriendelijke groet,

Posted by Rob van Wieringen on 02-24-2005 11:25 AM:

Vincent and all,

"Isn't it so that all we possibly know is based on images?"
( Herr Doktor Emanuel Kant, if I am correct ).

However, this said, it is of course still legitimate to discuss the image of rug #350, as long as we are talking about the same image.

Wendel Swan wrote : "If the Lesghi star design originated in Anatolia, then you should have no difficulty in showing pre-1850 examples of it. I have looked. So have others. I’d be delighted to see one, but I don’t think they exist".
Dave Kradjel then came with #350, Wendel supposed synthetic dyes and of it went.
After that he made some more remarks and the rug was again tagged as Caucasian, after 1850.

I opposed to these remarks, and tried to stated them with arguments and with, what I thought, were obvious features of #350.
And then....silence on Wendel's side; no more arguments, which is a pity for the sake of getting a better understanding of rugs in general.

Good questions are essential in gaining knowledge.
At a certain moment however, the following step should be to establish certain consensus in what the image of the object tells us.
I dare to state bluntly, without any objections I hope, that #350 as seen in this thread is an image of a rug.
Next step....well there doesn't seems to be a next step to consensus about any of the features of #350.

Let me try to get consensus on the following:
- (the image) shows a green color and a blue color
- colors looks natural, except for the repairs
- it is Anatolian

Thanks for putting me back in the game, Vincent.
However, how serious do I have to take you when you state: " in the end this rug is early Caucasian" when you just before wrote : " Think this is a very Kurdish 1900/1920 design".?

Turkotek is the place to interact and discuss, preferable with arguments, in order to get a deeper understanding of rugs/textiles science in general and it is not for me a "personal campaign" at all; I want just and only the argument to prevail in the discussion, for the sake of a better understanding of rugs and to take rug science to a higher level.

Regards and vriend. groet


Posted by Vincent Keers on 02-24-2005 12:22 PM:

Hoi Rob,

What about Plato and his Cave?

No, I didn't state that.
But what I mean is: For you the rug is early.

The design can be found on Kurdish borders. Mostly rotated 90 degrees. Some singlewefted "caucasian" rugs are made by Kurds in North Iran. The beauty is that the main designs where adopted but the border designs stayed Kurdish.
This doesn't mean this rug must be Kurdish.
It could be anything else. All dyes can be natural etc. But whitout the rug in hands, it's all in the shadow.

Met vriendelijke groet,

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 02-24-2005 12:40 PM:

Hi Vincent,

? Why is the rug upside down in the book?

No, it wasn’t. I scanned it then turned the scan at 90 degrees: I wanted to keep it large and in the same time avoid the consequent scrolling of the web page if I had left it horizontal.
Perhaps I turned it on the wrong side and it’s upside down.



Posted by Rob van Wieringen on 02-24-2005 01:17 PM:


Ooh....I understand.
But I stated : early Anatolian for me , not Caucasian.

It would be rather disappointing when the conclusion would be: "nothing can be said about this rug without handling it in the real".
Better to stop with posting images then.

I don't agree with you; a lot can be said about this one, at least if you are not afraid being mistaken with your observations.


Posted by Vincent Keers on 02-24-2005 10:27 PM:

Dear Filiberto,

Isn't it upside down? Woh, I must have been looking at it upside down. Hmmm, from now on I'll trust you with images again.

Dear Rob,

3 wefts passing. Wool reddish 3 ply
Warps: Wool: White/brown 3 ply
1 weft passing only. Wool natural 2 ply
Warps: cotton 7 threads twisted.

The selvage isn't original.

Is it Kurdish? West Turkey? North Iran? East Turkey?

It's north Iran. Kurdish.
And maybe the border gives this away, but isn't it nice we can check this for real?

Best regards,

PS. The rug is upside down. Sorry.

Posted by Cevat Kanig on 02-24-2005 10:35 PM:

Hi Vincent,

Nice Runner !.


Cevat Kanig

Posted by Vincent Keers on 02-24-2005 10:49 PM:

Hi Cevat,

This isn't mine
And yep. All my clients have good taste.

But I found this one hanging like a thee-towel.
So I took care of it. Now it will hang like it should be. Proud and straight and sharp.

Best regards,