Caucasian Rugs

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Caucasian rugs are those produced in one of seven broad geographic areas by which Oriental rugs are often categorized. The rugs of each are characterized by different predominant design motifs, colors, and weaving or knotting techniques. Within a region, there is even more variation across ethnic or tribal groups and religions, adding to the richness and character we admire in Oriental rugs.

Identifying Caucasian Rugs

The Caucasian rugs are subclassified as Baku, Dagestan, Gendje, Karabakh, Kazak, Shirvan, and Talish. All date from the second half of the 19th century and are a wool pile on a cotton foundation. Designs tend to be abstract and geometric. Knots are customarily symmetrical and fairly dense.

Baku area rugs feature muted blues and ivory, and complex arrangements of geometric flowers. Dagestani rugs are primarily prayer rugs with a high pile and a coarse weave and knotting. Gendje are characterized by pale colors--yellow, pale red, white, and blue--and a wide variety of design motifs featuring stylized flowers. Karabakh rugs emphasize pinks, violets, yellows, and greens and a variety of geometric designs.

Kazak designs are among the most popular of Caucasian rugs. Characterized by simpler motifs, they center on a single large decorative element, or a few, rather than many smaller ones. Strong contrast in colors--pale and dark reds, white, vivid blue, and bottle green--lends to an imposing effect. Shirvan rugs feature dense arrangements and a unique hooked triangle motif in borders. Talish rugs are almost without exception long and narrow, with the field usually devoid of elements but strong in color, typically dark red or dark blue.

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