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Salon du Tapis d'Orient

The Salon du Tapis d'Orient is a moderated discussion group in the manner of the 19th century salon devoted to oriental rugs and textiles and all aspects of their appreciation. Please include your full name and e-mail address in your posting.

A Rug Collector Meets the Hajj (Part 3)

by Filiberto Boncompagni

Part III - A Very Cheerful Caucasian Rug

Hi again,

Let’s continue the story.

I saw the rug. There was a young man hanging around. How much? $700. Not bad. I had a good look at it. Some parts missing on the borders, there is a hole, some low areas in the pile (like it was cut), but in an enjoyable condition overall.

There is a date, 1914. Actually two dates.

And some inscriptions. Armenian?

Meshwork ends.

The man goes, my wife comes around. She finds the rug pretty. I tell her the price. “Too much!” An old man comes, looks like the young man’s grandfather. How much? Grandpa answers in Arabic: $500. That’s better. I point to the missing parts, the hole. Grandpa says $400. I offer $300. He says in broken Arabic (my wife translates) that he paid a lot for it, it is antique. Yes, I know this song. I point to the low-pile areas. He’s softening. “How much do you want to pay?” “THREE HUNDRED!!!” “OK!”

Hip, hip hurrah!! I'm trying to hide my triumph while I produce the money. Now I’d like to ask for your help in identifying my new purchase.

It has almost the same knotted meshwork ends as Marla Mallett’s Kuba rug. You can see it at Marla’ s website in the End Finishes Project section. The structure is also similar. Here is the structure analysis I made with Daniel Deschuyteneer’ s kind help.

Origin: (Northeastern) Caucasus – dated 1914 – woven inscriptions -

Dimensions: 245cm (8’) x 152cm (5’) at bottom and 142cm (4’8") at top

Yarn spin: Z

Knot: 2 wool singles, symmetrical, H 29/dm V 44/dm, 1276/dm² 82 psi. Pile length mm6.

Warp: 2 ply ivory wool, no warp depression

Weft: one pick (or one shot - single wefted), 2 - two ply - ivory or mixed ivory and brown wool.

Heavy attached selvage: 3 units (2,2,1), outer pair free floating, inner pair irregularly interlaced by the ground wefts, one warp integral with the ground weave. The 2 ply blue wool selvage yarns extend erratically into the pile area and interlace the 2 first ground warps.

End: five (4 blue and one white) rows of countered soumak – meshwork of staggered overhand knots.

Thanks Daniel.

By the way, I asked “Grandpa” what the rug was and if the inscriptions were Armenian. He answered “Daghestan” and “No, it is Russian”. Well, what do you think? The date, 1914, is it possibly true? What about the colors?
Can you decipher the inscription? (I have few hopes about that, though)! It’s possibly cursive Cyrillic.

Questions and comments about my “reportage” are also welcomed.

Thank you very much for your attention, I hope I didn’t bore you too much.

Best Regards,

Filiberto Boncompagni.

Discussion Return to Part 1 Return to Part 2