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Shirvan Medallion rug

Code: SHMD34

Size (metric): 104x167cm

Size (ft): 3'4" x 5'5"

Area: 1.73 m2

Density: 165 000 knots per square meter, totally ~280 000 knots

Colors: navy blue, medium sky blue, red, yellow, medium green, aqua green, purple, olive green, apricot, maroon, light brown, ivory, dark brown.

Dyes: madder, weld (Reseda Luteola), indigo, pomegranate skins, walnut husks, natural dark brown sheep wool, natural ivory sheep wool

Materials: all wool: Handspun wool for pile, ivory wool warps and ivory wool wefts (two shots). 1cm of flatwoven kilim ends at both sides. - wool on wool

End finish: thin plaited fringes

Weaving period: four months

Weaver: Irada

Handwoven in Azerbaijan

Design:  The indigo field scattered with various polychrome floral, animal and geometric minor motifs around three central stepped medallions, in a golden yellow ground polychrome "leaf and calyx" main border and outer flowerhead minor borders.
Pile height: 0.5cm

Inscriptions: tamga (tribal seal) of Afshar tribe

Central field motifs

The serrated/saw-edged medallions (flame, gubba, gubpa) have been related by some authors to ancient Egyptian and Persian Royal insignia.

Tree of life

A peacock or simurgh motif - According to Latif Kerimov, the above bird motif depicts a peacock. But there is a big possibilty that it may also represent a Simurgh -
ancient benevolent, mythical flying creature, which was widely used in Iran and Azerbaijan Folklore for centuries. There is a long tradition of using the simurgh/phoenix motif in early Safavid Art, including in rugs and kilims (derived from manuscript illumination).

The benevolent phoenix has its counterpart in Iranian and Central Asian (known as Tughrul Kushu) lore, where it is known as the simurgh - a wise and protective bird.


Later named as crayfish (19-20th centuries), this motif is probably an adaptation of Central Asian hooked totemic themes.


Reciprocal birds

Interestingly similar birds motif can be found in this column capital of the VII century church with an inscription in Caucasian Albanian, found in Mingachevir, Azerbaijan.



spinning wheel or spindle motif


Note, the minor border consists many various elements, placed eccentrically.


so called "glass and leaf" (or calyx and leaf) border


a rug with the calyx and leaf border can seen in "Jesus in the House of Marta" (c. 1535), by Vasco Fernandes (better known as Grão Vasco)

Portrait of a Young Nobleman, circa 1545 portrays a Caucasian rug with the so called "calyx and leaf" border. Veneto-Lombard School

King Henry VIII, (1537-1557) standing on a rug with a "calyx and leaf" main border.
Unknown, after Holbein. Petworth House.

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