The Caucasus, referring to a strip of land flanked by the Black and Caspian Sea, and deriving from the eponymous mountain range, comprises modern-day Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and the south-westerly tip of Russia. Historically home to both nomadic tribes and more densely populated trade towns and cities, these tribes and towns became famous for their prized, colourful weavings. Shah Abbas (r.1587-1629) established weaving workshops in Shirvan and Karabagh provinces: early production included the large scale ‘Dragon’ and ‘Blossom’ carpets. By the 19th century, multiple variations in technique and design had developed and these striking and richly coloured weavings became highly collectible. The advent of chemical dyes in the late 19th century brought harsher colours; more commercialised weaving, rigid and less desirable designs.
The rugs here originate from the weaving peak of the 19th century and many have the exuberant colour for which the Caucasus is famed. Strong representation from the Kazak region includes the Bordjalou, lot 49, with exemplary intensity and lustre. Fine examples of Karachopt are lots 5 and 40; from Gendje, lots 6 and 39. From the East, lot 1 a Shirvan Akstafa, also with superb organic colour, but in contrast to the Kazaks’ bold simplicity, it utilises colour in a more complex way (see also lots 11, 15 and 38). In lot 124 from the Karabagh region, the influence of carpets of the 17th century Safavid courts can still be seen. For comprehensive discussion on Caucasian weavings, see Schurmann, U.,Caucasian Rugs, England, 1974.
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