Antique Caucasian Konaghend Carpets
Konaghend carpets represent one of the more interesting and sophisticated types from the Caucasian village rug production of the nineteenth century. Always well woven in a tight technique with first-rate drawing, 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.