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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
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Difference between synthetically and naturally dyed rugs

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Galleries of ARFP Caucasian Azerbaijani Rugs



SIZE: 61 3/4 x 19 1/2 in. (159.4 x 49.5 cm.)
WARP: wool, z2s, slightly depressed; ivory
WEFT: wool, z x 2; light red, pink or red, ends dyed yellow at plain weave
PILE: wool, Z2S, symmetrical knots pulled to the left, h. 9, v. n, 99 k/sq. in.; ivory, dark brown, red, pink, yellow-gold, green, blue, light blue
ENDS: weft-faced plain weave dyed yellow, bottom end missing
SIDES: yellow wool selvedge of 4 cords of 2 warps each, left side missing

Probably Western Anatolia
Fragment of a Prayer Rug, Possibly 17th century

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the western Anatolian town of Usak was a leading commercial weaving center producing many rugs for export to Europe. Among these, according to most authorities, was a group now called "double-niche" rugs because of the lobed arches at both ends of their red fields. Although these rugs are suitable in size for prayer, and many of them show some approximation of a mosque lamp suspended from one arch, the symmetrical shape of their fields has led to debate over their intended function. This beautiful fragment, nearly half the original rug, has the lobed archtypical of "double-niche" rugs only at the upper end of its field, and therefore displays an unambiguous but otherwise unknown prayer rug design.

In most respects other than its asymmetrical field, this fragment seems to belong to the group of "double-niche" rugs. The sinuous cloudbands in its corners, its quatrefoil central medallion, and its simple outer guard stripe are all found on other rugs of the group, and its border design of cloudbands and rosettes is also common.1 Only the slightly awkward drawing of this border suggests that the fragment is a somewhat later adaptation of the type, rather than a contemporary variation or even a predecessor. The ordinarily uniform cloudbands are irregular in shape and color. Standard knot forms have been turned into solid red blossoms, and stems have developed lumps like strung beads and sometimes grow in the wrong direction. The large rosettes between the cloudbands have sprouted atypical, pincerlike projections. This fragment was probably modeled after one of the commercial "double-niche" rugs by a weaver who wanted a rug with a definite prayer niche. Even in its present battered form, this version is more exciting than many of the rugs from which it was adapted, mainly because its colors - especially the golden yellow of its medallion and cloudbands - remain vibrant despite its long and obviously stressful history.

1. All these designs are combined on a rug reproduced by Alberto Boralevi, L 'Ushak Castellani-Stroganoff ed Altri Tappeti Ottomani dal XVI al XVIII Secolo, Florence, Karta Snc., 1987, p. 31. For other examples, each with some of the same repertoire, see Ellis, pp. 80-91, and Friedrich Spuhler, Bans Konig, and Martin Volkmann, Old Eastern Carpets: Master-pieces in German Private Collections, Munich, Verlag Georg D.W. Callwey, 1978, nos. 9-12, pp. 46-53.