A couple of years ago, Wendel Swan gave a talk
at the 4th International Conference on Azerbaijan Carpets. It was held to
honor the centenary of the birth of Latif Kerimov. A link to a Hali
article describing the conference is here:http://www.halipublications.net/newsall.aspx?Action=-617781463&ID=a90e7e69-83ff-49cc-ac2b-7d5bc5bf1714
Wendel's presentation, Characteristics of Antique Azerbaijani Shahsavan
Pile Weaving, he addresses some of the construction features of these
pieces. One is the presence of camel hair in their pile weavings.
also noted that they have simple field and border designs. The wefts, as
also noted by Tanavoli, are red or ivory, but not blue or brown.
rather distinct feature he found is sinuous or undulating warps.
warps are not kept taut, so they can sometimes be seen on the back of
their pile weavings, similar to the salt-and-pepper look of single-wefted
pieces even though Shahsavan pile weavings have two wefts between rows of
knots. This may be due to Shahsavan not being accustomed to weaving in
pile, affecting the "weave balance".
When the warps are not kept taut,
they "undulate" sinuously. Usually, one shot of weft goes over a taut warp
and under the next and both warps are level with each other. The next shot
of weft goes under the warp which the previous weft went over and over the
warp the previous weft went under. When the weaver beats these sinuous
(also called "weft-ease" or "scalloping") weft threads down against the
previous row of knots, each warp is completely covered by either the first
weft or the second. If the warp is sinuous and the wefts are taut , the
warp sticks up in the back where a taut weft thread went underneath it, so
it can be seen between rows of knots.
Here are some pictures of the
back of the mafrash.
This initial image shows white "dots" interspersed
between the mostly camel-colored wefts. These white dots are the sinuous
warp showing through.
The next photo shows some of the natural
light brown pile. Notice that it is flatter or duller in appearance than
the other colors. This could be camel hair instead of sheep wool.
Here are a couple of
pictures showing irregularities in the construction. This first one shows
what almost appears to be a "lazy line".
The next shows what looks like
discontinuous wefts. The white sinuous warp can be seen speckled across
all four of these photos in places.
These irregularities may be what Wendel
described as lack of weave balance due to inexperience in pile weaving.
All of these features make a case for this piece being Shahsavan. The only
unusual feature is the brown wefts, but this, too, may be camel