Caucuses carpets tell a story

Shirvan rugs contain centuries of symbolism

GMT 15:02 2013 Monday ,12 August

Arab Today, arab today Shirvan rugs contain centuries of symbolism

Antique Caucasian Shirvan 1920s rug made with vegetable dye
Hampshire – Arab Today

Antique Caucasian Shirvan 1920s rug made with vegetable dye Hampshire – Arab Today Pars Rug Gallery has announced a new collection that truly deserves the title ‘magic carpet’. The oriental rug specialist, based in Hampshire, England , is now stocking antique rugs from Shirvan in Azerbaijan.
 Shirvan is a town and region on the west coast of the Caspian Sea, bordering the northeast of Iran, in what is often referred to as the Caucuses.
During the Middle Ages, camel-mounted Silk Road traders passed through Shirvan, leaving behind a mix of cultural and religious influences that made their mark on the carpet weaving tradition.
The highly collectable Shirvan rugs, hand-woven from hand-spun wool by local tribes, have therefore been shaped by a turbulent centuries-long history, incorporating designs and techniques learnt from the Mongols, Persians and Turks. In fact, many of the design symbols found in 19th century village and nomadic rugs predate the classical period by centuries.
The district of Shirvan was populated mainly by Azeri and Armenians (who belong to Iranian families), all known for their expertise as dyers and weavers. With their rich colours, symbolic medallions, geometric symbols and delicate latticework, the designs of Shirvan rugs are instantly recognisable.
The symbols woven into Shirvan rugs are taken from everyday life and the natural world - people, birds, animals and plants featuring strongly. The symbols’ meaning was only ever shared orally, and some of the details have been lost as the tradition was passed down generations. But it is understood that weavers used symbols to put the individual in harmony with the world, or even to give magical protection. The early peoples from this part of Asia revered the moon and sun, which is sometimes shown as a huge eagle, or sunbird with two heads. It has a distinctive mark on its body – a hole to represent the sun-gate where the divine light streams outwards and where all human souls must pass inwards on their final journey. The dragon shapes and snakes often shown as the eagles prey have evolved into ‘S’ shapes, which is also a symbol for God.
The rugs’ borders also have symbolic meaning as a fence or barrier, with some boasting spears pointing outwards to ward off threatening forces. Humans may be depicted using fertility symbols to imply the expectation of a baby. Birds have a variety of meanings associated with them as they float between the earth and heaven, symbolising themes of good or bad luck, happiness, love, souls of the departed, power and strength. The cock is thought to dispel darkness, while the ram symbolises fertility and power. The designs are generally geometric across the field of the rug and also incorporate a leaf shape design called a ‘boteh’.
Usually woven by nomadic tribes or villagers who moved their sheep from pasture to pasture,  Shirvan rugs tend to be small in size due to the need for looms to continually be being dismantled and re-erected. This gives the rugs a slightly uneven quality and looser weave, lending them an added charm and integrity. Most Shirvan rugs are pure wool (although a few may have cotton wefts and edges) and the most common field background colour is ivory, making them a durable and practical – as well as historic and beautiful – addition to any home.

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Source: PR web

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