Rug No. 1

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Posted by George O'Bannon on August 08, 1999 at 14:55:09:

Dear Daniel
This rug presents several interesting questions and problems for not only the new but experienced rug collector because it is not a common Caucasian type and the name you use, Chaily, is not the most common spelling if one starts searching in the literature.
1. Chaily as given in Wright/Wertime is correct by direct translation from Russian to English. It is the spelling given in Kerimov's Azerbaijan Carpet II (1983), p. 226 and III (1983), pp. 102 and 135. The most common spelling of this name is Chajli or even Chagli in English publications. The newcomer might assume these are different words, but a common problem in rug terminology spelling is transliteration from, as in this case, Azeri Turkish to Russian to German (from when the term enters English) to English.
2. In Kerimov III, he illustrates a rug (plate 74, 2/3 of rug) like yours on p. 102 with two large medallions and smaller ones between. The caption calls it "Fyndygan carpet, Baku group, XIX century." The text about this rug is not translated into English. However, to me it has all of the hallmarks of a Kustar product with reconciled corners, identically drawn motifs, and perfect balance between paired motifs. On page 135 is a section of a more typical Chaily rug with large octagon medallions, plate 92, described in the caption as "Demirchilyar carpet (first variant), Kazakh group, XVIII century, Kirovabad town, Bagbanlar Mosque." Plate 93 is a similar rug described as "Demirchilyar carpet (first variant) Kazakh group, made in 1332 (1913)." The date is clearly visible in the illustration. Although the 18th c. date is questionable, 92 is certainly a generation earlier than 93 based on the photos. These are the type of rugs commonly called Chajli in rug books and I assume those you cite in Bennett.
3. In all of the 100s of illustrations in Kerimov's two volumes, no Chaily rug, as such, is illustrated. In his diagramatic sketch of the weaving villages by region, Chaily is listed under Gyanja/Genje. Fyndygan is under Baku and Demichilyar is under Kazakh. Gyanja/Kazakh is considered as a unit with two subdivisions.
4. In Kerimov's Azerbaijan Carpet, 1985, plate 67 is called "Fyndygan, Baku group, 19th c." It has three large medallions, no small medallions, small stars instead of rosettes around the edge, and 10 borders. No Chailys are illustrated. The translated text has Fyndygan under the Baku group which is divided into two subgroups, Apsheron Peninsula and Khizy. Under Khizy "we may mark in this district such carpets as Fyndygan and Gaadi as well as Zili, which are manufactured here in big quantities. In spite of similar technology in these three groups (Kuba, Shirvan, Baku) ornamental designs as very different." One finds Chaily listed again under Gyanja/Kazakh with Chaily under "Kasum-Izmailovo: Chaily, Shadly and Fakhraly." The illustration in this volume again has a very Kustar look to it with a precision, end finish, and some border patterns I associate with Chi-Chi rugs.
5. The book of Kerimov's most readers may have is Rugs and Carpets from the Caucasus, The Russian Collections, 1984. One can read here, p. 19, the term Chaily and see Kerimov's rug divisions but no Chaily or Fyndygan rugs are illustrated.
6. Chaily rugs because of Schurmann's Caucasian Rugs are usually placed in the Shirvan group. These are the type with two or more large octagonal medallions. Stone, Rugs of the Caucasus: Structure and Design, 1984, on pp. 149-54 presents some technical/design information (based on only 5 rugs) that shows how varied technical features can be in these.
7. In considering names for Caucasian rugs, one needs to remember that this area, perhaps more than any other, is one where Western names differ very much from the Russian literature and their experts terms. Our terms are derived from Schurmann, who was accused by a European dealer, from whom he gained much of his "Kerimov" terminology, of having 'jumped the gun' and published these terms before he had learned them properly. One only has to compare the terms in Kerimov's Rug and Carpets with Schurmann to see this difference. However, we are probably stuck with Schurmann's errors because these design names have become so ingrained in usage by dealers and collectors that it simply cannot be changed.
8. To return to your rug and the Wright/Wertime example. The Chaily term fits with Kerimov and their footnoted source is his heir as head of the Caucasus Kustar weaving. This illustration may even be a cartoon not an actual rug. This type of rug is totally different from Schurmann's Chajli type, that we "know".
9. To return to your rug, it appears to me that yours is the oldest of the published examples and the only one with the idiosyncrasies associated with spontaneous village and tribal weaving. The border patterns change vertical to horizontal, no reconciled corners, and color usage is not regular although balanced. (Is your rug also reduced in length? It appears so on the bottom end.) These exist in the Pap rug but not to the same extent. In the illustrations I cited the "c"s are not used, the top and bottom points on the medallion increase in importance giving the medallion an elongated size, and the rugs take on a runner shape as well.
10. According to Kerimov your rug is a Fyndygan, Baku District. Chaily or Chajli does not conform with usual western terminology. Structurally your rug has more in common with the Gyanga/Kazakh group or even Kuba than with the Baku. In closing could a rug like yours have been the model the Kustar industry used and later promoted it among the weavers in the Baku region?
Although not conclusive, perhaps it will provide grist for the mill.

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