Caucasian Rugs

Situated in the South-west of the Caucasus, the area from which the Kazak rugs come stretches from Tiflis to Erevan, and borders on Gendje in the North-east and on Karabagh in the Sougth-east. The population is mainly Armenian, but Kurdish tribes from the South are also found in this region.

Kazak rugs are generally recognisable by their large, bold designs and clear uniformity of colour. Thick weave and a high pile make for a hard-wearing product. Without exception the warp is of natural coloured wool and is mostly three-ply. The weft is also made of wool, either natural grey or, as is frequently the case, dyed red. Normally two weft threads are inserted after every row of knots. Typical of all Kazak rugs, as indeed of all rugs produced in the South (Gendje, Karabagh, Talish, Shirvan) are the many different ways in which the ends are finished. Aloop forms the beginning of the rug, the free ends of the warp threads were not cut but were drawn back to the other end of the rug. This was done by placing a baton across the warp threads and looping the threads round the baton. When the rug was finished the baton was removed, leaving the looped ends. At the opposite end of the rug the free warp threads were either roughly knotted or laid parallel to the weft in plait-like patterns. Quite often there are no fringes at all, but the kilim (a band of weaving formed by the warp and the weft but without pile) about 2-3 cms. wide is turned under and sewn to the back of the rug.

At the edges of the rugs two warp threads are normally bound with wool. Red wool is used, but there are many instances where red, blue and other colours are employed for the edges. The length of the pile depends upon the district in which the rug is woven, whether the rug was produced in a mountainous or hilly district. The higher the place of production, the longer the pile, for the rug was often a means of keeping warm. In Kazaks the average length of the pile is from 8-12 mms.

The handle of Kazak rugs is normally heavy and meaty, with the exception of the qualities which will be mentioned below. In addition to the collective term Kazak, distinctions are made between the following qualities according to their colour, ornamentation or handle.

Lambalo, a village near the Gendje border, weaves rugs which have a fairly low pile (approx. 6 mm.) and which are fine and silky to the touch. The wool is beautifully dyed and their design incledes geometrical flowers in the border. The ground or field is often plain, without any ornament whatoever. Their size seldom exceeds Dozar measurements (130 x 210 cms.).

Near Lambalo, is the large village of Shulaver whose rugs, like those of Lambalo are woven with fine wool and excellent dyes. In contrast to the rugs of Lambalo, the ground has a rich design.

The Bordjalou district, northwest of Lambalo, is famous for its silky wool and, for Kazaks, its relatively close pile of 4-5 mms. Fairly large sizes are often found in the rugs of this district. The design is an all-over design of hexagonals with the reciprocal, trefoil border-typical of these rugs-in white wool on a black brown ground.

In Lori- Pambak, a district south of Bordjalou, Armenians weave high-pile Kazaks which are recognised by the scant design. A massive, geometrical medallion is surrounded by large areas in plain colours. The length of pile is from 8-12mm.

The town of Karaklis liies on the railway line from Tiflis to Erevan. The ground colour of carpets woven in this town is almost invariably black brown. Each piece has a character of its own and rich flower and bird decorations are favoured. The influence of Karabagh is unmistakable. As Karaklis are woven under town conditions, larger pieces are found than are normal for Kazaks. To the touch they are particularly heavy and tightly woven.

The town of Idjevan produces rugs similar to the Lori-Pambaks, in that they are scanty in design, but are large and sombre in colour. The large village of Fachralo, west of Shulaver, weaves rug with a pile length of about 5-7 mmmm. They are looser in weave than orher Kazaks. Broad bands forming a gable over a square in the central ground are typical of rhese rugs.

Near Lake Sevan is village of Karachow. Particularly beautiful, large, square Kazaks are produced there. A wonderful green is used for the ground colour and to the touch they are silky and tightly woven. In each corner small squares with light grounds are grouped round a central aquare. The small squares are formed by a geometrical rosette design.

This list is by no means exhaustive of the individual production centres with their peculiarities of design and colour. But as the products of the villages which do not appear in this list, are extremely rare in the trade, a description of them would satisfy no practical need and at best would only confuse the picture.



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