|and while no one can say with confidence what a boteh
I do. It’s a vegetal
afraid it didn’t help at all, because it made me go back to re-read the
link posted by Cornelius on the first page of this thread, concerning a
discussion on orientalrugtalk.com (see link
for it) where Martin Andersen (who posts also here
on Turkotek) presented convincing evidence of this border being derived by
Did you read it? Probably not, I
Anyway, if before I was distractedly
concede that this particular “Kufic border”
could be a misnomer (but NOT a “rug
lore”), now I am convinced that it is an absolutely valid
About the Azadi, Kerimov and Zollinger’s book and the
“Shami” denomination: much ado about nothing.
I guess the culprit
is Kerimov: here is what he calls “Shami border” in “The Azerbaijan Carpet
Volume II”, 1983, (link already posted somewhere in this thread) Fig
And here is an
abridged version of the associated text. Translation courtesy by Google.
The text between brackets and in capital letters
is my suggestion
of a logical translation:
As is known, after the Arab
conquest the Albanian alphabet (Alpan) and Pahlavi in Azerbaijan were
banned. In our country, was introduced as an official, Arabic handwriting
kyufi (KUFIC CALLIGRAPHY) that even for the Arabs at that time was very
The name of the handwriting of kyufi is connected with the
city Kyufa (KUFA), located 150 kilometers south of Baghdad. The
handwriting has kyufi geometric forms,
period, in the decorative arts, and especially in the architectural
monuments, the names of God, the Prophet Muhammad, chief of the caliphs
and imams, who were their ancestors, and governors, as well as religious
sayings, praising, and which extolled them, were usually written with the
handwriting of [kyufi]. These inscriptions gradually ornamentiziruyutsya,
(?) change form. Thus, border composition "Shami", that reached our time
and occupies a particularly important place in the Azerbaijani, Turkish
and Central Asian rugs – was nothing else but the handwriting of kyufi,
which gradually lost its original meaning and has acquired a variety of
Note that the borders, "Shami" (IN) Azerbaijani
carpets date back to the border adornments of carpets namazlyk Mehrabi
(PRAYER RUG WITH NICHE), which bore, in their time, religious nature. The
fact that the Azerbaijani kovrotkachi (WEAVERS) call this border "Shami",
once again proves the validity of our opinion.
(Note: the prayer rugs
mentioned by Kerimov should be the ones posted above in this
From my reading of other parts of the book I’m confident that kovrotkachi
means weavers, or carpet makers.
I resume the
meaning of the above text, as I understand it:
- the border in
question derives from Kufic calligraphy
- its meaning was gradually
lost and acquired a purely decorative form
- Azerbaijani weavers called
it – and I stress, in all of its variations, not only the Caucasian
, and for unspecified reasons - “Shami”
means “from Sham”.
I knew that Sham, in Arabic, means Damascus.
Wikipedia confirms it but it enlarges its meaning:
شام), al-Sham, or Bilad al-Sham, endonym of the region bordering the
eastern Mediterranean Sea, usually known as the Levant or Greater Syria,
comprising modern Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian Territories and
ash-Shām, or Sham (الشام), another name for Damascus, the
largest city in the region
I think Kerimov is right: they
called it Shami simply because this calligraphy
, NOT the border
design, was introduced by invaders from the region of Greater
Anyway, does it matters?
I mean: what is the point of
using the Azerbaijani weaver’s name? I bet that in Daghestan (or other
ethnicities) they call it differently. Years ago I had a long debate on
this pages with a rug dealer from Azerbaijan, because a rug composition
called by Kerimov “Gabala” or “Gymyl” was named in a Soviet book,
(Daghestan decorative art), as “Djakul”. But that was the way it was
called in Daghestan!
And why apply a local Azero-centric label for
a border used on rugs of different countries?
At this point, seeing
that even Kerimov admits the “Kuficity” of the border, let’s call it
So, as I have told before, I’ll stay happily with the
old, good "Kufic border" definition. Or Kufesque.
Wait... on a
second thought I’m sort of contrary to “Kufesque” because, as I cannot
understand it, how the heck can I tell if it’s really Kufic or simply an
imitation of it?
Having said that… You can call it
whatever you fancy, of course.
(March 20th) - I modified and improved a bit Kermimov’s translation using
Yahoo’s "Babel Fish". Nothing changed, substantially, because it confirmed
some of my first deductions that were included between brackets, which are
P.P.S. - After hours of internet search I couldn't
find the translation for
ковроткачи = kovrotkachi
but I found that
carpet, rug = коврик, ковер