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Antique Zakatala double saddle bag, North Azerbaijan, 19th century. NERS

Zakatala Khorjin

The soft red, prevalent use of natural dark brown, and the band of red and ivory star-like devices on the faces lead to the conclusion that this bag is from Zakatala,1 as the pile rugs from that region have the same color value. If the coloration does not seem typically “Caucasian” 2, it may be due to the fact that the population of Zakatala is predominantly Avar, an ethnic group that primarily inhabits Dagestan, to the north of Azerbaijan.

The design of red, light blue and ivory flattened diamonds on the faces of this khorjin is seen on other slit-tapestry Azeri bags and door covers3 often enough to make one think the design is endemic to the Transcaucasus. However, the same diamond forms turn up on small Afshar sofre and gilim in Iran, reinforcing the idea that no weaving design is original, and everything comes from somewhere else.

As with the saltbag, #10 in this exhibition, such bags as this khorjin came out of the Transcaucasus in numbers only after the break-up of the Soviet Union. With its hair warp and sturdy construction, the piece was made for local use.


1) One of the northernmost districts in Azerbaijan. For more on weaving from this area, see Hazledine, T. “The Mosque Rugs Of Zakatala”, Hali 60, pp 94-95

2) Strictly speaking, "Caucasian" is much too broad a description for the weavings of Azerbaijan, plus parts of Daghestan, Georgia, and Armenia. “Transcaucasian” is better. It must also be kept in mind that while many weavers in the 19th century Transcaucasus were Azeri, others include Kurds, Armenians, Tats, Lesghis, Tabassaranis, and various Dagestani peoples.

3) Wright, R. and Wertime, J., Caucasian Carpets and Covers, London, 1995, pages 133, 135

Structural Data:

Size: 3’ 11” x 1’ 7” (119 x 48 cm.)

Warp: Dark brown hair, Z2S

Front: Slit tapestry weft-faced weave, Z singles, and Z2 lightly spun, wool, and continuous stripes of weft-faced plain weave; with one row of two-span, three color (red, white, blue) weft twining, (2) Z2 lightly spun wool; and one row of two-span, two color (red, blue) weft twining, (2) Z2 lightly spun, wool

Ends: Weft-faced plain weave, dark brown wool, Z singles. Midway through, the wefting is interrupted by a strip of five-span, two color weft twining using (3) Z2 lightly spun wool. One face uses yellow and brown wool, the other uses light red wool and brown hair. These strips periodically become braided loops and then each leave a long braided tassel which interlaces the loops of the opposing bag face. The dark brown flat-weave section is completed by oblique interlacing, which is then folded over and the remaining warp ends are sewn overcast with dark brown hair, Z2S

Selvage: Plain interlaced

Join: Plait stitch, vari-colored wool, Z2S and dark brown hair, Z2S

Weft-faced plain weave, wool, Z2S; 48 per vertical inch
At ‘bridge’ a braid of red and blue wool, Z2S, is sewn onto edge, on one side of braid with plait stitch contiguous with join, and on other is overcast sewn with Z2S dark brown hair.