October 6, 2013
19th Century Workshop Rugs from the Eastern Caucasus
Salon at a Private Home
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During the 19th century, the great majority of rugs made in the Eastern Caucasus were produced for export to Europe, the United States, and the Russian empire. These rugs, while often attractive, were made with conventional designs and weave characteristics, suitable for Western export. The production standards, colors, and designs of East Caucasian rugs had deteriorated significantly by the end of the 19th century.
Some areas of the Eastern Caucasus appeared to continue a tradition of fine weaving throughout the 19th century. The production of such rugs appears relatively limited and was characterized by high knot count, unusual or archaic designs, and Persian influence in design and coloration. Some of these rugs appear influenced by 18th century workshop Caucasian carpets, or by older silk embroideries. While some of these rugs may have been made for dowry or other family uses, the cost in time and materials makes it likely that most of these rugs were commissioned by wealthy clients in the Caucasus or for export to the sophisticated Persian market. The appearance of small clusters of such weavings with very similar designs and colors that are found in the carpet literature suggests production in a workshop setting.
The speaker explored the characteristics of putative 19th century East Caucasian workshop weaving, and showed design evolution of such rugs from older weaving traditions within and beyond the Caucasus.
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