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JBOC's Notes on Oriental Rugs

Caucasian Rugs: Akstafa Rugs Guide
 
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What is an Akstafa rug?

A rather basic question but now that I have collected a few examples I started looking at how best to describe them. In particular I was looking at a magnificent example from J. C. Oliveira of Macau.The Oliveira Three Medallion Akstafa

Oriental Rugs: Akstafa Prayer Rug Southwest Caucasus circa 1880 92cm x 153cm Hagop Manoyan

Manoyan Akstafa Prayer Rug Southwest Caucasus circa 1880 92cm x 153cm Hagop Manoyan

The Oliveira Three Medallion Akstafa Rug

Jorge wrote in reference to a magnificent Akstafa:

"There aren't many ‘Akstafa' rugs without the traditional large birds on the field. This is one of those few. Also it is uncommon to find those ‘T'-shaped motifs. The same is valid for the small cruciform hooked motif at the medallions' centre. But the most unlikely depiction is the profusion of Talish rosettes, so typical of Talish rug borders. We find it in this rug's borders and inside the medallions. This feature confirms Ian Bennett, Murray Eiland and Harold M. Keshishian's opinion that most of the denominated ‘Akstafa' rugs were actually not woven on the large town in the Kazak weaving district (near Lambalo and Shulaver) but rather on the Shirvan weaving area, probably on south Shirvan. The magnificent colours of this rug also suggest a southern Shirvan attribution."

So obviously when Jorge Oliveira, Ian Bennett, Murray Eiland and Harold M. Keshishian agree on something it is a pretty safe bet. I can not think of anyone who I respect more in the field of Caucasian Pile rugs although there are a few fellows at that level.

So then why not follow the leaders and attribute Akstafa Rugs to South Shirvan and be done with it? Well as I was looking for background information and local color I stumbled across an important find. In the Council of Europe Minister's Deputies CM Documents I found CM(2002)10 Addendum 4 (unclassified) 14 February 2002. The document gives clear and compelling proof that in the Akstafa region there is an Azeri enclave that includes the villages of Sadykhly and Boyuk (Boyuk Kazak) in Azerbaijan and the villages of Nazarly, Voyovka and Jandar in the Gardabani region of Georgia.

The people in South Shirvan who weave colorful rugs like this were Azeri. Now I differ with men such as Eiland in some respects. Murray places far more importance on geographic considerations than I do. I take an ethno-linguistic approach. I expect Azeri rugs to look like Azeri rugs no matter where in Azerbaijan they were woven. So Azeri who live near the Kazak region are still Azeri so the rugs they weave should be more like their kinsmen in South Azerbaijan than their unrelated neighbors.

To put it simply I feel that it is reasonable to attribute the Azeri rugs that we call Akstafa to the Azeri of the Akstafa region.

A very rare stripped Akstafa Prayer rug. Shirvan Akstafa_Prayer Rug Last Q 19th c. htm
Map of the Akstafa Area
Map of the Akstafa Area

Map of the Akstafa Area

Related Examples:

Oriental Rugs: Akstafa Prayer Rug Southwest Caucasus circa 1880

Akstafa Prayer Rug Southwest Caucasus circa 1880
92cm x 153cm from Hagop Manoyan

Akstafa Rug

An Akstafa long rug, lot 23

Typical Akstafa Structure

Structure: Symmetrical. averages 107 KPSI and average size of 34 square feet. Oriental Rug Lexicon. Flat back

Yarn: Spin: Z.

Warp: Warps are flat or mildly depressed. 2 ply warps often barber-poled the lighter ply may be cotton.

Weft: 2 shots of 2 ply wool or cotton.

Pile: 2 Wool singles.

Ends: Upper – fringe. Lower loops. Loops often woven into band

Selvages: two warp unit reinforced white cotton selvage sometimes blue. Wool in very old examples, cotton in newer.

Notes:

Literature:

Bennett, Ian et al. Oriental Rugs Volume 1 Caucasian.

E. Gans-Ruedin, Caucasian Carpets, Thames and Hudson, London, 1986, pp. 216-217.

Ulrich Schurmann Caucasian Rugs.

Stone, P.F. Rugs of the Caucasus: Structure and Design.

Akstafa Rugs are part of the broader category of Caucasian Rugs and Caucasian Carpets

Links:

www.Jozan.net Akstafa Rugs

 

Thanks and best wishes,

J. Barry O'Connell Jr.

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