Caucasian rugs originate from the Caucasus region located between the Black and Caspian Seas. This region – previously the south-western part of the Soviet Union before its disbandment – encompasses nearly 160,000 square miles of territory.
Over the course of the past millennium, the Caucasus region experienced significant amounts of territorial, cultural, and religious conflict. The rocky terrain and expansive variety of culture made the area susceptible to frequent sieges and territorial conquests.
Before the Russian government absorbed the Caucasus region, the Arabs, Mongols, Tartars, Turks, and Persians repeatedly engaged in battle over the region. Due to the constant shifts in power, the indigenous population comprised a wide variety of beliefs and cultural traditions.
The main people groups – including Christian Armenians, Central Asian Islams, Turks, and Persians – suffered many forms of persecution, discrimination, and enslavement throughout the their history.
The violent history of this region heavily influenced its weaving cultures. The weavers of this region used a variety of bold, beautiful colors in order to portray their unfortunate past.
Given the menagerie of people groups that make up the population, the rug weaving styles display many cultural influences. Persian designs and Anatolian weaving techniques repeatedly peak out in Caucasian rugs; however, despite the similarities, Caucasian rugs have many unique qualities that they claim as their own.
It wasn’t until the early 19th century that the Caucasus region finally shifted entirely into the ‘folk art’ weaving traditions that the region is so well known for.
Caucasus Rug Weaving Styles
Within the past century, the Caucasus region has become very well-known for its ‘folk art’ pattern styles. Its textile art has significantly impacted the oriental markets, and the region is now very well known for these specific types of rugs.
In the mid-to-late 20th century, the Caucasian people switched to weaving their rugs in state-controlled workshops instead of nomadic tribes. These workshops regulate the type of wool and the quality of the overall rug. In addition to regulating the rug’s materials, the workshops also limit the rug designs to the older, more popular styles in Caucasian history.
Caucasian Rug Names
Unlike other cultures, the Caucasus names its rugs based on the rug quality or the design instead of by the place of the rug’s origin. This can make it more difficult to truly authenticate the product, and determine its history.
It may be difficult to determine the actual country of origin in Caucasian rugs because workshops and other manufacturing plants often copy Caucasian designs. As the rugs do not bare the origin name for the rug, it is important to closely examine the quality and design when deciding to make a purchase.