TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  Is it Shahsavan?
Author  :  Wendel Swan mailto:%20wdswan@erols.com
Date  :  07-17-2001 on 01:08 p.m.
Is the Italian rug Shahsavan? The design elements, except for the border, are of little help in the attribution to any group.

Shahsavan pile weaving is extremely rare, despite the fact that one often sees that label on too many dealers' offerings. Perhaps because the Shahsavan themselves are not a homogenous ethnic group, their limited pile weaving does not fall into tidy design and structural categories.

With pattern being of little aid, we have to look at structure. I have suggested elsewhere that nomadic Shahsavan pile rugs can be distinguished from other wool-on-wool symmetrically knotted weavings in the region by:

1) relatively simple field and border designs consistent with their flatweaves
2) fine red, salmon or ivory wefts, but not blue or brown
3) the frequent use of camel hair in the pile
4) the occasional use of cotton in the wefts
5) in certain groups or cases, sinuous warps caused by weft ease

The Italian rug has all of these structural characteristics as well as a color palette that is consistent with Shahsavan flatweaves from the Moghan area, as is illustrated by this close-up of real camel hair in the "ashik" border, with sinuous warps shown.

I have never seen any pile weaving that I would call Shahsavan that is as old or as large. It has been imbedded in my mind ever since I saw its image in 1989. The size of the rug indicates that it must have been made for a khan or some important person, regardless of that person?s political or tribal affiliation. Perhaps it was preserved because its makers considered it to be important.

My feeling is that it was woven sometime before 1850, but how much earlier I couldn't say. Some have suggested that it could be 18th Century. COULD is the operative word. I can only say that its size, proportions, structure and handle remove it from the realm of the late 19th Century Caucasian rugs.


Subject  :  Re:Is it Shahsavan?
Author  :  Deschuyteneer Daniel mailto:%20daniel-d@skynet.be
Date  :  07-19-2001 on 09:05 a.m.
Dear Wendel and readers,
The “open top Italian palmettes” are may be not of great help, but until now nobody can dispute that they are most likely related to the palmettes seen in 17th and 18th century Caucasian Blossom carpets and that the most likely attribution is to either Northwest Persia or the Transcaucasus.
Saying that it CAN BE be Shasavan is certainly one possibility among others and I think many Azerbaidjiani rugs may have the same characteristic as those you cite in your post.
I haven’t and don’t know any other rug which can be closely compared with the Italian rug, and the biggest problem is that each time that we make a good comparison about one feature, there are contradictions on other features.
Since there are so few carpets to which it compares, there is no way to prove one way or another exactly who made it.
But let me nevertheless share with you some of my thoughts about possible origins. Using the color palette and the main design features as leading indicators, those which came to mind when I first saw this rug were Karabagh, Transcaucasia, NW Persian Kurdish, Shasavan and Lori (Varamin area).
Wendel’s possible attribution to Shahsavan weavers is highly plausible but to provoke some discussions I will take a counter point.

In your Salon 23 you presented a rug which could be Shahsavan, showing like the Italian rug a “lack of weft ease”. I may be wrong but I don’t think that such a feature can be considered as a distinctive weaving practise.

In favor of Wendel’s observation I must tell that I handled during the last excellent Hali Fair a Shahsavan pile bagface showing the same structure. It had tiny cotton wefts and lack of weft ease and Adil Besim told me that he was sure that the wool was Shasavan. This is unfortunately a tactile information we can’t share.

The use of cotton in the foundation and a lot of smaller devices seen in this rug are pretty common in, but not restricted to, Shahsavan flatweaves. As many motifs appearing in pile rugs were imported from flatweaves it may suggest this attribution. What bother me are the "amulet-like" motifs, the “star in cross” and the "nude humans" pictures scattered on the field.

I don’t remember having seen "amulet-like" motif in other rugs than Anatolian, Kurdish rugs from the Garrus area, Lori and other SW Persian rugs.

Same may be said about "human representations" which are exceptional in Shasavan flatweaves while they are pretty common in Anatolian, (Caucasian), NW Persian, Lori and other SW Persian rugs.

The most striking detail are the “star in cross”. I looked to hundreds pictures of rugs without finding ANY ONE showing this extremely rare feature WHILE “stars in octagons or hexagons” are pretty common.

Last, the Shahsavan weavers, have an old tradition of flatweaves, and pile rugs would be relatively recent. The fact that the Italian rug
with its simple “ashik” border system without guard borders looks very old and is most probably from early 19th if not earlier, is against a Shahsavan attribution .


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