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Old January 3rd, 2018, 05:06 PM   #1
Chuck Wagner
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Default Shirvan Prayer Rug With Uncommon Motif

Hi All and Happy New Year,

Over the past year I've cautiously acquired a couple pieces that stray from my rug knowledge comfort zone, including the piece below. I don't own many antique Caucasian pieces, so I was happy to be able to add this to the collection.

Hopefully, I'll still be glad after your comments.

The knee-jerk tendency is to refer to anything with the look and feel of this rug as a Marasali rug. I will leave it to the Kafkaz experts to counsel on details that may shift the attribution.

One uncommon motif - and the primary motivation for purchase - is the swastika border element. It struck me as most unusual.

I haven't found many references to pieces from Shirvan with this motif and I'm curious if anyone has some info to share on that topic.

A secondary motivator was the observation of a change in the amount of detail in the design as the weaving progressed, with generally simple guls and swastikas at the bottom, shifting to more complex design elements higher up in the rug. A patchwork comparison is the last image in the series below.

I think the colors are "good"; no evidence of bleeding dyes and no DayGlo orange or pink on this rug. There is very sparing use of green on this piece; the fourth image shows a bit of it.

It has a date inscribed, which I will allow others to comment on. I would read it as 1233, whic would be mid 19th century. I'm aware of the fact that many are skeptical of dates on these rugs; still there it is.

Structurally, classic Shirvan I think; symmetrical knots, 8H x 9V, wool on wool.

Here are the images; fire away.

Regards
Chuck Wagner
















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Old January 3rd, 2018, 08:23 PM   #2
Filiberto Boncompagni2
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Hi Chuck,

I am pretty sure I have seen the swastika border on at lest one prayer rug in one of my books, probably on Kaffel’ “Caucasian Prayer Rugs”. Tomorrow, when I go home, I’ll check.
Unless Joel precedes me as usual.
Cheers,
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Old January 4th, 2018, 12:26 AM   #3
Egbert Vennema
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Hi to all, see also ; Ian Bennett's Oriental Rugs Volume I, plate 443 Swastika border, and. http://www.azerbaijanrugs.com/guide/...rbend_rug4.htm best,Egbert.
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Old January 4th, 2018, 09:55 AM   #4
Filiberto Boncompagni
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Thank you Egbert, but I was referring to this one with exactly the same minor border with swastikas:



It's from Kaffel’s book.
I left the image big so the text is readable, because this one has also a woven date.
I think the comment about the date and the main border with Kufic elements can apply to Chuck’s rug as well.

It’s a nice prayer rug, Chuck.

Regards.

Filiberto
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Old January 11th, 2018, 01:36 AM   #5
Patrick Weiler
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Default What the vaq?

Chuck,

That is a beguiling rug you have there. I am not sure if that is a proper rug term. Perhaps for properness we should ask Joel, as he is properly socialized. Nonetheless, if Rich can use edification and paradigm in the same sentence, I can use beguiling.
For some reason the kilim ends remind me of Kordi work.
The field design is an interesting take on the vaq-vaq style, with horse heads, snakes and slithering creatures of indeterminate morphology. The curious bilateral and mirror symmetry takes any south Persian weavers out of the running, as they are most fond of free-style designs. For a "formal" rug, the symmetric knots are a little out of context.
I suggest you wait another 10-12 years and post it again.


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Old January 11th, 2018, 02:52 AM   #6
Rich Larkin
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Hi Patrick,

What the heck? I thought you were going some place with that post until it dropped off the table. You were on a roll with the vaq-vaq analysis. Meanwhile, I would like to know where Chuck's rug came from, but I am not coming up with anything good.

Chuck, I assume the thin ivory warps are wool. Was it attributed anywhere specific when you acquired it?

Rich
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Old January 17th, 2018, 03:07 AM   #7
Chuck Wagner
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Pat,

Quote:
What the heck? I thought you were going some place with that post until it dropped off the table. You were on a roll with the vaq-vaq analysis.
Yeah. What he said...

A friend of mine suggested Afshar. I have always wondered about Heriz.

Anyway, put the thinking cap back on, while I go to see if I can provide more detail on the structure & materials.

Still pondering your remarkably cryptic inscription.

Regards
Chuck
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Old January 17th, 2018, 04:34 AM   #8
Rich Larkin
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Chuck,

While you are at it, say some more about what is going on with the first few lines of warp as you come in from the selvage. From that back, I would surmise the selvages are multi-corded, as you would see on a Baluch rug, and that is how you described it above; but from the pile side, it seems that is not the case. What is up with that?

Also, I get the impression from a few of the images that the rug is one of those tightly woven ones that doesn't want to lie flat. True? How would you describe the handle and texture?

I don't see Heriz at all. There is a distant resemblance in the design, but that is it. The only reason I would go with Afshar is that those folks seem to be the default weavers of every unidentifiable rug that comes along these days. I have a faint sense that in another life, I knew where the rug was from, but I am blanking on it here.

Rich
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Old January 18th, 2018, 10:35 PM   #9
Chuck Wagner
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Hi Rich,

Here are a few more images to digest, including one of the waq-waq motifs.

You correctly note that each selvage cord has more than one warp; looks like two, to me. Along the side edges of the pile, I didn't really notice anything out of the ordinary, structurally.

The knotting is symmetrical at all locations; no switching at the edges. And I find no evidence of offset knotting either; the weaver opted for high resolution instead, so all the curves are non-offset knots.

Looking between the knots, the weft tensions do not look intentionally variable. There is a little warp depression, but it appears to be almost random and not particularly strong. It shouldn't be too variable along a single knot line, yet, it is. The somewhat puckered look you also correctly note, seems to be more from tying knots tightly, to very tightly, but somewhat variable long a line.

The handle is floppy and the rug is heavier than you might expect given the thickness
















Regards
Chuck
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Old January 19th, 2018, 04:50 AM   #10
Rich Larkin
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Hi Chuck,

Nice pics. I would be an absolute churl to suggest they weren't enough, so I'm not going to do it. Instaed, this question: given the character of the selvage cords, why does the selvage look like a single (overcast) cord in the images of the surface of the complete rug? Am I misreading those images?

Regarding rugs with 'curls' that will not flatten out, I have read that it occured when horizontal looms staked onto the ground were taken up with the rug unfinished when the tribe needed to move, then restaked at another location. Another random point is that I used to see late Turkoman-esque rugs in the possession of Afghanis on their way to Mecca for the Hajj. They were thin, leathery, and extremely tightly woven. Those wouldn't lie flat either.

Rich
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Old January 5th, 2018, 07:08 PM   #11
Rich Larkin
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Hi Chuck,

It looks good, you did well. There are 500 bad ones for every nice one. Of course, we expected no less.

That business of progressive articulation of the design elements as one gets higher into the weaving is interesting. It is the sort of thing one encounters in other venues, but not so much in the Caucasus from my experience. Also, you got a lively set of borders as these pieces go. The adjustment from the horizontal to the vertical for the brackets was well-considered by the weaver.

This is a small point, and nomenclature for Caucasian rugs in general is an iffy situation, but I wouldn't expect people to hang the label, Marasali, on this type. I associate that term with the blue field prayer rugs that feature especially colorful boteh, sometimes described as "flaming." Perhaps my outlook on this is too narrow, and others may associate your type (which I call "white field Caucasian prayer rug") with the Marasali label.

Mabrook!

Rich
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Old January 5th, 2018, 09:46 PM   #12
Steve Price
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Hi Rich

I believe there's a village called Marasal that's the home of Marasali Shirvan rugs. The best known of these is a blue ground prayer rug with a field of flame-like botehs that has been published several times and, at 250 knots/square inch, is the most finely woven Caucasian rug in captivity. I'm drawing a blank on the name of the collector who owns (or owned) it. The Marasali attribution is often associated with extremely finely woven Shirvan rugs, often with mihrabs and nearly always of the size associated with prayer rugs.

Here's one that I own, that's appeared on Turkotek in the past.



The knot density is about 220 kpsi, and the wefts are silk. The size, borders, palette and field layout are typical of rugs attributed to Marasali. It is inscribed with a date that corresponds to AD 1863.

Steve Price
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Old January 5th, 2018, 09:58 PM   #13
Rich Larkin
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Hi Steve,

I am aware of a few of the blue-ground Marasalis (so-called). In fact, I have a modest example of my own. The one you are thinking of may be the item owned (formerly...don't know about current status) by Jerome and Mary Jane Straka. I had the pleasure of seeing that one at the Textile Museum about thirty-five or forty years ago. Above my pay grade.

Rich
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Old January 6th, 2018, 01:43 AM   #14
Steve Price
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Hi Rich

Yes, the Straka Marasali was the one I had in mind. I couldn't find the card with Straka's name in my internal Rolodex. One of the mixed blessings of age - I no longer have to drink to forget.

Steve Price
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Old January 8th, 2018, 02:08 PM   #15
Rich Larkin
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Hi Chuck,

Regarding the apparent year date on your rug, what do you make of the fact that the number is actually "233," rather than 1233? We know that dates and other inscriptions on rugs have to be taken with an open mind anyway, but I wonder whether there is an alternative theory for this one?

(Certainly not that the rug was part of a limited edition, and this was #233. )

Going in a different direction, does anyone think 1850, more or less, is plausible for this rug?

Rich
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Old January 8th, 2018, 02:32 PM   #16
Ken Shum
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All,

Yes, that looks like 233 to me and not 1233.

The main border has a Konagkhend design to it.

Ken
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Old January 8th, 2018, 03:31 PM   #17
Filiberto Boncompagni
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Hi Rich,

Your question about the plausibility of the 1233 date made me looking for older discussions on the subject…
Funny, twelve years ago I posted the same scan form Kaffel’s book. If my memory was better it could have spared me to do a new scan.
Here it is (the discussion, I mean):
http://www.turkotek.com/misc_00041/dates_language.htm

At the time I speculated on the possibility that the date was in the Persian Solar Hijri calendar (the idea being that the Caucasus was under Iranian influence).
To convert it to AD suffice to add 622. Hence, in Cuck’s Rug 1233 + 622 = 1855.
Is that plausible? May be…
Note: - Looking better on Wikipedia, I see that the Hijri was adopted in Persia in 1925. For eight centuries before that there was another version of the Solar calendar called Jalali but for our purposes it doesn’t matter: there is always a 622 to add.

Than there is the matter of the missing “1”. That was discussed in the past as well but I can’t find it. Anyway, I think I remember of other cases in which the date was without the first digit.

Regards,

Filiberto
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Old January 8th, 2018, 11:48 PM   #18
Rich Larkin
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Hi Filiberto,

I remember those threads. For my own part, I try to avoid the quicksand of whether a Hegira rug date is expressed in the solar or lunar calendar, mostly because my rugs get older when I use the lunar version. Anyway, see additional comments below.

Regarding the weaver lopping off the initial "1," I don't doubt that it happened. I always wonder why it happened. Was there a conventional usage by which people in those societies expressed a date ignoring a millenium? Maybe!

As to a rule of thumb, mine is that I keep in mind a Hegira date in 1300 using the lunar calendar lands in about 1882 by the western calendar. That is a handy reference date for most dates on rugs, at least the ones the likes of me and probably most Turkotekkers get to handle. It is easy to add to or subtract from that date. I assume, as you suggest, that Chuck's conclusion of mid-nineteenth century is based on a solar calendar. Using a lunar calendar for 1233 would put the rug before 1820.

Rich
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Old January 9th, 2018, 06:40 AM   #19
Chuck Wagner
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Rich, et al.,

I know we've discussed the absence of a leading "1" in inscribed dates before, but I can't find a link to the thread either. I thought I had another one somewhere in the Rug Bunker (East), but I haven't found it yet. Maybe I just dreamed that part...

I don't know enough about this genre of rugs to assess whether the date is reasonable or not. Kaffel's comment has been echoed in other conversations, and on other websites, but one has to wonder if all the similar opinions aren't actually derived from the same single comment by Kaffel.

Based on the condition I would be skeptical of an early 19th century date without a good analog to point at.

Like Filiberto said: mid 19th ? Maybe. I'm comfortable with it.

But it's not a certainty.

It's my sense that the more colorful than usual (for these rugs) palette is consistent with earlier-rather-than-later guesstimate, but that is more of a hunch and may not hold up under close examination.

I remember seeing Steve's rug posted before but had forgot how incredibly fine it is, causing me to speculate that it was woven for a very special occasion or person.

Regardless, I think I am now satisfied that acquiring this piece was not a blunder and for that I'm thankful.

I recall that you have a Shirvan prayer rug with some very nicely rendered florals on it; maybe a courtesy post to refresh the neurons ?

Regards
Chuck
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Old January 9th, 2018, 02:11 PM   #20
Rich Larkin
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Hi Chuck,

Here is the Marasali prayer rug.



Not ultra-fine, but it is pretty, and in very good condition. Some knot collars are visible, but there is real pile throughout.

On the topic of baffling inscriptions, here is a detail from the rug.



What the heck is that all about? I have seen that diamond with the triangle atop used for "8" in other dated rugs that are purporting to be nineteenth century. The dates in those were reflecting a western calendar with western script numerals, apparently the work of christian weavers. If anyone can make anything out of the rest, I would love to know about it. The weaver was most careful to place that nice little box up in the corner, and I would not want to hurt her feelings, but the content has to be seen as an anti-climax.

Rich
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