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Sheep Breeds of Azerbaijan

Sorting, Washing, Carding, Spinning

"The advantages of handspun yarn to machine spun yarn"

Rediscovery of Ancient Natural Dyes
Our Natural Dyestuffs


Difference between synthetically and naturally dyed rugs

Weaving and Finishing Steps

Galleries of ARFP Caucasian Azerbaijani Rugs


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Chuval Central Anatolia

This sack (chuval) has been attributed to the Aksaray area in central Turkey on the basis of its brilliant palette, although the design in the decorated band is found also in sacks from across Anatolia, particularly farther to the east. The use of white cotton in the decoration might also suggest an eastern provenance. Based on the mint condition of its body and straps, this sack would seem to date from the late 19th or early 20th century. However, a comparison with other pieces of this period from central Anatolia suggests that dye quality had generally deteriorated by that time.

The sack opens at the top end (i.e., the short side of the bag), and was intended to be used and displayed with the decorated bands running vertically. On the loom, the stripes would have woven horizontally. In this orientation, the weaver wove plainweave, sometimes with colored stripes, then a couple of decorative bands (sumak, brocading, etc.) then more plainweave.

These bags were woven in pairs and were used during nomadic migrations, specifically on camels. Upon arrival, they were removed from the camel, placed along the back wall of the tent, and covered by a long kilim,1 which had covered the camel-load en route.


The straps were used to lift or tie down the bags. Not all large chuvals were made or used by nomads. A larger one from the same collection, found near Karapinar, appears to have been used in a sedentary farm setting. Josephine Powell reports seeing similar bags as large as 4’ X 6’, and admits it is hard to think how they could be used, since if filled with anything more than hay, they would be too heavy to lift. She says some villagers told her they were used to store grain at the local mill, where their owners simply removed small quantities for grinding when flour was needed.

The fibers in the black and white strap, which are straight and stiff, are most likely goat hair.


1) Notice that some of the bag straps are serving as a makeshift rifle holder.

Note: Both of the "pop-up" reference photos are by Josephine Powell.

Structural Data:

Size: 2’ 10” x 3’ 10” (86 x 117 cm.)


This ‘bag’ is constructed of a decorated plain weave textile sewn together, with additional patterned strips added on. It is a flat-weave with brocade strips in center. This was then folded over horizontally, leaving one brocade panel on one side and one on the other. One selvage side was stitched, using bright purple wool, synthetic dye, Z2S and red wool Z2S. The other selvage side is left open as though for insertion of goods. Braid #1 is sewn on across the gap between the two brocade panels. Braid #2 is sewn on across the flat-weave near the open edge. (See below)

Flatweave Section

Weft-faced plain weave, 44 per vertical inch, wool, Z singles; with a decoration of overlay/underlay brocade, blue wool, Z singles. The ends are cut and turned under, overcast sewn with red, blue, orange and brown wool, Z2S, thicker than that used in weaving of article.

Warp: Ivory wool; Z2S

Decorated Section

Warp: Ivory wool; Z2S


Weft: Dark blue wool, Z singles


Weft: Reverse offset sumakh, paired warps, 14 rows per vertical inch; wool, Z2 lightly spun. Also used is handspun white cotton, Z2S, and brown hair, Z2 lightly spun. At one end, bordering the sumakh areas is: twining four-span, two color (dark brown, blue) wool, Z2 lightly spun, and ivory cotton, and at other end is countered twining of four-span, two color (dark blue {Z2 lightly spun wool} & ivory handspun cotton). Small corner sections are weft-faced plain weave on paired warps.

Fabric under Bands

Warp faced plain weave, 3,3/4” wide

Warp: Orange wool, Z2S

Weft: Ivory wool, Z2S

Band #1

Plackets of embroidery with laid, sumakh and cross stitiching of wool (Z2S) and white cotton patterning are sewn onto band using Z2S wool. Braided end (1’9”) with tassel

Warp: Vari-colored wool, Z2S, 18 per horizontal inch

Weft: Brown wool, Z2 lightly spun

Band #2

This band is sewn through the orange warp-faced fabric and onto the flat-weave section with red laid wool and blue “X” stitching of wool, Z2S, again of same vintage as the embroidery wool of band #1.

Warp: Ivory and dark brown hair, Z2S

Weft: Medium brown hair, Z2S; braided end (2’ 8”)