The real story?
Let us come back on firmer ground:
What’s the real story?
First I don’t know of any Caucasian rugs, fragments, utilitarian… which can be dated to the 16th century. This doesn’t mean that there were no weavers at this time in the Caucasus but we haven’t any examples of these early weavings and don’t know which groups were weavers at this time.
During the second half of the 17th century, the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th centuries (in degenerate forms) a “group” of big carpets largely influenced by the Persian culture appears in a short time. We are speaking here of the Dragon rugs and all their derivative, the floral palmette rugs, the afshan paatern rugs, the palmette rugs….These rugs share not only common designs with the Kirman Vase carpets but also the “cable wefting” structure of these Persian rugs.
Which group(s) wove these rugs is still unknown with certitude. Armenians were most probably important players.
Where were these rugs woven is also uncertain. As the Tabriz theory is down, Susha and, for later examples, Shemakha are two possible places of origin
They were most probably commissioned for the Persian aristocracy of this time and this explain why so much examples are still available today.
During the first quarter of the 18th century smaller rugs began to be produced most probably to answer to West (instead of Persian) commercial tastes. These rugs contain geometric motifs directly inspired of the earlier Dragon rugs and their relatives and another large group adopt design well known in earlier Anatolian rugs. These rugs were woven by a lot of different groups, villages, which adopted each a few number of specific pattern characteristics of their production.
At the end of the 19th century, the Kustar commitee regulated the production which became decadent.
Your post implies that Tabriz is no longer taken seriously as the source of some of the classic carpets under discussion. My impression was that Wertime's "Tabriz hypothesis" is alive and well, although not universally accedpted. Did I miss something?
About the Wright and Wertime Tabriz theory:
These author’s rejected that Susha could have been the place where the dragon and floral carpet were woven because Susha dates back only as far as 1752 when its wall was completed, sometime after many of the dragon and floral carpet were woven, and argued for an origin in the Tabriz area.
Now read Sovrani Tapetti pp. 93 : or the article of Bournoutian : A history of Karabagh – An annoted translation of Mirza Jamal Javabshir Karabaghi’s Tarikh-e Qarabagh, Costa Mesa 1994 pp. 71-2.
Here is what the author’s writes:
“Now an early history of the Karabagh provides information that again opens the possibility of a Susha source. The account was written by a local gentleman from one of the aristocratic families, who made his career as scribe to several local rulers. As he was writing shortly after the events in question, he would seem credible when he points out that it was in 1754 that the fortress of Susha was built (the base of the Tabriz theory) on -land previously used as pasturage by villagers from the nearby town of SUSHI.
Subsequently it was residents of this town that moved into the completed fortress.
Obviously the town had been there for some time and was simply being upgraded to a fortified stronghold in the 18th century.