Caucasian Rugs

Comprehensive Antique Collection of Caucasian Rugs

The antique Caucasian rugs get their name from the area in which they were made – the Caucasus. The Caucasus is a region that produces distinctive rugs since the end of the 18th century and the antique Caucasian rugs are primarily produced as village pieces rather than the fine and intricate city productions. Caucasian rugs are best known for featuring bold geometric and tribal designs in primary colors.

The antique rugs from the Caucasus are primarily made of materials that are (or were) particular to their tribal provinces and some of the styles that are “typical” or better known to the Caucasus region are Shirvan, Dagestan, Kuba, Kazak, Karachopf rugs. Caucasian Rugs are probably the most widely collected type of antique rugs. The strongest market for Caucasian rugs has to be Italy who appreciates these rugs for their tribal and primitive designs. Another reason why the Italian market is so strong is the fact that most of the rooms as considerably smaller than those in the USA – since the Caucasian rugs are smaller in size (rarely bigger than 5 x 8 ) they are the perfect size for their rooms.

Chief countries of origin were Kuba, Dagestan, Shirvan, Talish and Baku in the East, and Ganjeh, Kazak, and Karabagh in the southwest Caucasus. While Caucasian carpets tend to feature floral designs, their style or rendering is usually highly abstract or geometric, with considerable emphasis on rich and varied color.

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Central Asia is the pre-eminent region for nomadic rug production. Chief among the rug producing Central Asian nomads were the Turkomans, whose work is prized for its precise weave and drawing and meticulous allover repeat designs, although generally in a subdued or restricted palette. Turkoman rugs are often called “Bokara” in the rug trade, after the chief central Asian city from which they were exported to the West. Other central Asia nomads like the Baluch, Uzbeks, and Khirgiz produced bolder designs with a brighter, more varied palette, but their pattern repertory is still closely related to that of the Turkomans. In addition to floor rugs or carpets, many central Asian weaving were made as storage bags and decorative trappings.

Learn About Antique Caucasian Rugs

The mountainous region of the Caucasus has been an attested center of rug production since at least the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

In the nineteenth century the Caucasus became a major area of village rug production for export under official Russian control.

Learn About Collecting Antique Caucasian Rugs

The rugs that were produced in the Caucasus during the great expansion of village weaving promoted by the Russian authorities in the second half of the nineteenth century have, until recently, become one of the most desirable genres for rug collecting. Indeed various types of Kazak rugs, Karabagh, Shirvan, and Kuba rugs still occupy a place of importance in the rug-collecting world, but their attractiveness has fallen off to some degree in the last decade.

This is not due to changes in taste, availability, or other types of marketplace trend. There is surely no shortage of such rugs in the galleries of dealers or auction houses. And that is in fact a key to the problem. It is possible to encounter wonderful examples of Sevan or Karachop Kazak, Chelaberd Karabaghs (the so-called Eagle or Sunburst Kazaks, Konakgend Kubas, and the like in superior condition if one is willing to pay the hefty price that such rugs have come to command in fine condition. But such condition itself has now become a cause for serious concern or suspicion.

The reason for this has to do with reprehensible practices that have been reported across the rug producing regions of the Middle East over the last decade or so. Antique rugs in fine condition are rarely pristine. However well they have been cared for, there is bound to be some sort of damage from moths, burns, or irremovable stains, all of which require areas of the pile to be re-woven.

That has always been and remains acceptable to collectors. Such repairs can be done to a very high standard, especially by weavers in the Middle Eastern areas where the rugs were originally produced.

Sometimes this is done using wool from the fragmentary remains of kilims or tapestries which can be unraveled to yield great lengths of antique yarn with the spin and color of the same quality and texture as the wool in antique rugs that are in need of repairs. All this is well and good, but it has within it the potential for abuse.

Some types of antique rug have for one reason or another become more desirable than others. It is easy to come across worn antique Caucasian rugs of various types that are simply not worth repairing. But it is worthwhile to save their foundations, to pull the remaining knots out of them and repair any holes or slits.

For it is then possible to take antique yarn, unraveled from damaged or fragmentary Kilims that no longer have much market value, and to re-knot or reweave it into antique foundations to produce designs of the most desirable and valuable type. The resultant rugs are made entirely from antique materials. They have the wool quality and color of antiques, the texture or feel of antiques, and, if the weaver is skilled, the drawing or design quality of antiques, that will fool even expert dealers and collectors.

They will even pass the test of scientific analysis like carbon-14 dating, since the wool is entirely antique. Such analysis will only disclose fraud if the Kilim yarns are appreciably older than the foundation or vice versa, and if multiple portions of the rug are tested. The rug would then appear to have different ages in different areas, which would indicate that something were amiss.

But such rugs are not antique. Their manufacture is modern, and they are, therefore, worth far less than genuine pieces made long ago. The representation of such rugs as antiques is fraudulent, unless the dealer or seller is unaware that the rug is a modern pastiche of old materials, and, unfortunately this does happen.

The writer was once admiring an antique Kazak hanging on the wall of a New York rug gallery. A Turkish dealer/ rug restorer who was visiting the gallery approached me quietly and asked me to estimate the age of the piece. I ventured to place it sometime around 1880. He laughed and said that it was not anywhere near that old, but that it was newly made in Turkey. When I questioned his opinion, he told me not to argue with him because his workshop had produced the rug. When I pointed out that the rug had damaged areas that had been re-woven, he said, “we do that to make it look more convincing.”

When I pointed out that the brown pile was all corroded or at least lower than the rest of the pile, as it should be on an antique, he said, “we trimmed all the brown lower.” When I protested that the back of the rug was polished and smooth like an antique, he responded that they had burned off the fuzzy fibers of the back surface with a propane torch. And when I insisted that the wool and dyes were old, he conceded with a smirk that they were indeed, but that it made no difference. And he was right. It was still a new rug. Or for lack of a better term, it was a “magic carpet.”

This is the risk that collectors and dealers alike are now up against, and it has had a chilling effect. One must really think twice before buying an antique rug that belongs to an established, sought-after type. If it looks to good to be true, perhaps it is, perhaps it is not a genuine antique, but a magic carpet.

When I now see a Sevan or Karachopf Kazak with voluptuous, long, shaggy pile for sale, I am immediately suspicious, and my suspicion does not abate until I see documented evidence of the rug’s existence going back at least twenty years. And such documentation is often not available.

There is no doubt that genuine antique pieces may get passed over as a result of this climate of informed caution or suspicion. But at today’s prices, who wants to take a magic carpet ride?

History of Tribal Rugs from the Caucasus

The mountainous region of the Caucasus has been an attested center of rug production since at least the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Caucasian rugs of this period are among the great masterpieces of classical or early rug production.

In the nineteenth century the Caucasus became a major area of village carpet production for export under official Russian control.

Chief centers of production were Kuba, Dagestan, Shirvan, Talish and Baku in the East, and Gendje, Kazak, and Karabagh in the southwest Caucasus. While Caucasian rugs tend to feature floral designes, their style or rendering is usually highly abstract or geometric, with considerable emphasis on rich and varied color.

Collecting Antique Caucasian Rugs and Carpets

The rugs that were produced in the Caucasus during the great expansion of village weaving promoted by the Russian authorities in the second half of the nineteenth century have, until recently, become one of the most desirable genres for rug collecting.

Indeed various types of antique Caucasian rugs such as: Kazak rugs, Karabagh, Shirvan, and Kuba rugs still occupy a place of importance in the rug-collecting world, but their attractiveness has fallen off to some degree in the last decade. This is not due to changes in taste, availability, or other types of marketplace trend.

There is surely no shortage of such rugs in the galleries of dealers or auction houses. And that is in fact a key to the problem. It is possible to encounter wonderful examples of Sevan or Karchopf Kazaks, Chelaberd Karabaghs (the so-called Eagle or Sunburst Kazaks, Konakgend Kubas, and the like in superior condition if one is willing to pay the hefty price that such rugs have come to command in fine condition.

But such condition itself has now become cause for serious concern or suspicion. The reason for this has to do with reprehensible practices that have been reported across the rug producing regions of the Middle East over the last decade or so. Antique Carpets in fine condition are rarely pristine. However well they have been cared for, there is bound to be some sort of damage from moths, burns, or irremovable stains, all of which require areas of the pile to be rewoven. That has always been and remains acceptable to collectors.

Such repairs can been done to a very high standard, especially by weavers in the Middle Eastern areas where the rugs were originally produced. Sometimes this is done using wool from the fragmentary remains of kilims or tapestries which can be unraveled to yield great lengths of antique yarn with the spin and color of the same quality and texture as the wool in antique rugs that are in need of repairs. All this is well and good, but it has within it the potential for abuse.

Some types of antique rugs have for one reason or another become more desirable than others. It is easy to come across worn antique Caucasian rugs of various types that are simply not worth repairing. But it is worthwhile to save their foundations, to pull the remaining knots out of them and repair any holes or slits.

For it is then possible to take antique yarn, unraveled from damaged or fragmentary kilims that no longer have much market value, and to re-knot or reweave it into antique foundations to produce designs of the most desirable and valuable type.

The resultant rugs are made entirely from antique materials. They have the wool quality and color of antiques, the texture or feel of antiques, and, if the weaver is skilled, the drawing or design quality of antiques, that will fool even expert dealers and collectors. They will even pass the test of scientific analysis like carbon-14 dating, since the wool is entirely antique.

Such analysis will only disclose fraud if the kilim yarns are appreciably older than the foundation or vice-versa, and if multiple portions of the rug are tested. The rug would then appear to have different ages in different areas, which would indicate that something were amiss.

But such rugs are not antique. Their manufacture is modern, and they are therefore worth far less than genuine pieces made long ago. The representation of such rugs as antiques is fraudulent, unless the dealer or seller is unaware that the rug is a modern pastiche of old materials, and,unfortunately this does happen.

The writer was once admiring an antique Kazak hanging of the wall of a New York rug gallery. A Turkish dealer/rug restorer who was visiting the gallery approached me quietly and asked me to estimate the age of the piece. I ventured to place it sometime around 1880.

He laughed and said that it was not anywhere near that old, but that it was newly made in Turkey. When I questioned his opinion, he told me not to argue with him because his workshop had produced the rug. When I pointed out that the rug had damaged areas that had been rewoven, he said, “we do that to make it look more convincing.”

When I pointed out that the brown pile was all corroded or at least lower than the rest of the pile, as it should be on an antique, he said, “we trimmed all the brown lower.” When I protested that the back of the rug was polished and smooth like an antique, he responded that they had burned off the fuzzy fibers of the back surface with a propane torch.

And when I insisted that the wool and dyes were old, he conceded with a smirk that they were indeed, but that it made no difference. And he was right. It was still a new rug. Or for lack of a better term, it was a “magic carpet.” This is the risk that collectors and dealers alike are now up against, and it has had a chilling effect.

One must really think twice before buying an antique rug that belongs to an established, sought-after type. If it looks to good to be true, perhaps it is, perhaps it is not a genuine antique, but a magic carpet.

Navy Blue Antique Tribal Caucasian Kazak Rug Nazmiyal

Navy Blue Antique Tribal Caucasian Kazak Rug

When I now see a Sevan or Karachopf Kazak with voluptuous,long, shaggy pile for sale, I am immediately suspicious, and my suspicion does not abate until I see documented evidence of the rug”s existence going back at least twenty years. And such documentation is often not available.

There is no doubt that genuine antique pieces may get passed over as a result of this climate of informed caution or suspicion. But at today’s prices, who wants to take a magic carpet ride? Flower patterns do not play an essential role in Caucasian rugs.

Usually the design patterns in Caucasians are geometric, often without symmetry. If flowers designs are present, they will generally found in the border, or used to complement a geometric pattern. They will not be a dominant factor as they are in many Persian, or Indian rugs.

Discover the Beauty of Nomadic and Tribal Caucasian Rugs Pre 1920

Caucasian rugs pre-1920 are rare but greatly desired because of their simplicity in design. This was before the area came under Russia, and its rug weaving craft was truer to its culture. Because these areas were influenced by nomadic tribes, it is harder to determine the exact origin by design. The structure and materials use are a more reliable tool in identification. Generally the warp and weft from natural wool, and a Turkish knot is used.

Carpets using a thicker wool usually came from the more rural mountainous areal, while we can look toward Shirvan, or Kuba for a finer wool. In area populated by both Christians and Muslims, it is easy to distinguish the weaver by religion. Muslims, as it is forbidden by the Koran would have no animals depicted in their carpets; they leaned more toward producing prayer rugs.

The Christian weaver did not have these restrictions. Generally Caucasian rugs are geometric in design. However the closer we move toward the Persian border, the more likely the shapes are to be rounded. Though many fine Caucasians have been produced after 1920, if you are really attracted to the Caucasian Antique rug, look for the earlier ones.

Learning About The Beautiful Antique Caucasian Konaghend Carpets

The antique Caucasian Konaghend carpets represent one of the more interesting and sophisticated types of carpets from the Caucasian village rug production of the nineteenth century. Always well woven in a tight technique with first rate drawings, antique tribal Caucasian Konaghends carpets tend to have “Kufic” borders and a field design of allover arabesque tendrils transformed into a highly geometric repeating network.

The tendrils generally form or approximate small medallions that recur across the field in superimposed horizontal rows. No. 2738 from Nazmiyal, shows an excellent example of this type of antique Caucasian rug. The main border follows a long tradition that adapted the stylized geometric Kufic script of the early Islamic period to carpet designs.

At first glance, another Konaghend from Nazmiyal, simply appears to be a more stylized or simplified version of the standard design of this type. Here the oblong shield-like medallions in the field seem to take precedence as an allover tessellated design, while the tendrils have been reduced to small curling bits in the intervening spaces.

But a closer look at this antique rug reveals that this example reflects the impact of another design tradition.

It goes back to the allover tessellated medallion designs of Timurid carpets from the fourteenth to fifteenth centuries, which have rarely been preserved, in the original; they are known mostly from representations in Islamic manuscript painting.

This unique and outstanding carpet clearly reflects such Timurid precedent, although it is unclear how and when such tradition reached the Caucasus. It provides a rare glimpse into the factors or influences behind Caucasian village rug design, whose history before the nineteenth century is very obscure.

How to Decorate Your Home With Antique Caucasian Rugs

Tribal Caucasian Carpets Home Decor

Many of the best interior designers have been fascinated by the primitive, geometric designs and gorgeous, vibrant colors, of antique Caucasian rugs. The antique rugs that were crafted by the people of the Caucasus Mountains have a tribal character that has recently found its way into many contemporary home decorating styles. These captivating area rugs are skillfully created using ancient techniques and materials that were available locally. The symbols on the rugs have a special meaning to the people who made them and represent a cultural heritage of sorts.

Decorating With Antique Caucasian Rugs by Nazmiyal Antique Rugs

Decorating With Antique Caucasian Rugs

Here are a few ideas for using the magnificent antique area rugs from the Caucasus in your home or office:

Caucasian Rugs in Contemporary Homes

Caucasian rugs use simple, geometric rug designs and shapes that are the perfect touch for modern furniture styles. In a room with minimalist furniture and a neutral color scheme, a Caucasian rug blends in seamlessly. The rug colors range from earthy to bold and charismatic. They can be used to create a focal point in the space that serves as a foundation for the rest of the design.

The idea of using antique tribal area rugs to warm up and add contrast to streamlined, modern spaces is nothing new. The idea began in the mid-20th century when designers used a wide range of oriental rugs to add pattern, color and to take advantage of the space beneath popular furniture styles of the time.

Modern Bedroom Interior Design Antique Caucasian Kazak Rug by Nazmiyal Antique Rugs

Modern Bedroom Interior Design Antique Caucasian Kazak Rug #71150

Furniture that was raised off the floor with minimalist, cylindrical legs provided a new canvas for designers, and they took full advantage of it with the rugs that they chose. Now, these mid century modern furniture styles have once again become popular and are finding their way into trends, such as Danish modern, minimalist, urban modern and ultramodern styles. A Caucasian rug is the perfect piece to soften the lines and add interest to the design.

Traditional and Transitional Interiors

Caucasian rugs first began to find their way into homes across Europe and the USA at the end of the 19th century when a new railway opened new trade and distribution routes for them. They became a staple of Victorian homes, and they remained an important element in traditional décor over the decades.

They continue to blend in with styles that are based on traditional home decorating ideas such as rustic, French country style and farmhouse interiors. Caucasian rugs add an air of authenticity to a room of antiques and highlight the historical feel of the room. They are also excellent transitional rugs that bridge and connect between modern pieces and accessories from different design eras throughout history. These beautiful rugs are the perfect way to bridge different decor styles and give eclectic pieces a unified feel. The gorgeous colors and fascinating rug patterns always draw attention in the room, which allows the other pieces in the room to play an equally important, but supporting role.

Rich and Global Feel

The colors of Caucasian rugs have a rich texture that speaks of presence and sophisticated taste. They are as perfectly at home with curvy, overstuffed, traditional pieces that feature fine wood carving as they rare in modern, minimalist spaces. The traditional setting for Caucasian rugs is in creating the foundation for areas for conversation. Needless to say, they will look spectacular in private libraries with Georgian leather wingback chairs and soft lighting.

Modern Minimalist Sitting Room With Antique Caucasian Soumak Rug 71154 by Nazmiyal Antique Rugs

Modern Minimalist Sitting Room With Antique Caucasian Soumak Rug #71154

Color schemes that reflect the spices that were traded along the Silk Road are popular this year with favorites that include warm browns, curry, red pepper, and cayenne. The colors of Caucasian rugs are made with natural carpet dyes that allow them to blend together in a way that mimics the colors of the earth. This gives them a traditional feel that is global and has the feeling of a seasoned world traveler.

Nature-inspired Boho, Eco-chic, and Wabi-Sabi

Rooms that feature nature-inspired colors, materials, and themes continue to grow in popularity and work their way into increasingly diverse styles. Their tribal qualities and texture make them perfect for a Boho chic room where the colors will inspire accents such as basketry, natural wood lamps and throw pillows that mimic the colors of the area rugs. They set the tone when used as a piece in front of a sofa or as the center of an area for entertainment.

The concept of Eco-chic is one of the newest style trends that favors pieces that reflect the natural world. The primitive, tribal designs and earthy, harmonious colors remind us of people living close to nature. Wabi-sabi is another concept that has recently entered our interior design vocabulary. This is a Japanese concept that seeks to create the peace and serenity of being outdoors within the interior space.

Wabi-Sabi style relies on pieces that have an organic hand-made feel that embraces the imperfections. It has a similar feeling as the concept of hygge that has been popular for quite some time, but Wabi-sabi is a little more minimalist and takes the natural feel to a greater extreme than Nordic and Scandi design styles do. The main idea is to create a feeling of peace and well-being within the space that uses nature as its inspiration.

Inspiration for Creating Your Personal Style

As you can see, there is a place for Caucasian rugs in almost any interior decor style. Whether your personal style involves traditional pieces with ornately carved wood trims or a contemporary, modern look, a Caucasian rug will help you create a space that is unique and inspiring. Now, you can find these rugs in every room of people’s home – from the living room to the kitchen, bedroom and even the bathroom. They add colorful designs and a unique personality to any room. They are versatile enough to suit anything from formal to more casual décor.

Today’s styles are about self-expression and choosing pieces that speak to you and inspire you. We invite you to look around our collection of beautiful Caucasian rugs and enjoy the diversity in colors and patterns. If you see something that is the perfect piece for giving your room that special finishing touch, feel free to contact us, and we can answer any questions for you.

This rug and design blog about decorating with antique Caucasian rugs was published by Nazmiyal Rugs

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