4.0 Caucasus


Caucasian carpets are numerous in Canadian public and private collections. Almost every collector paid tribute to their bright colours and dynamic compositions – their stylized floral designs and bold abstract motifs please an experienced collector as well as a proselyte. Most of them come from Azerbaijan, a country in the northeast part of the Caucasus that stretches along the Caspian Sea.

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Interview with Ed and Joan Safarian

Toronto rug collector and member of the Friends of Oriental Rugs.

“What what attracts us, apart from the beauty, is the mystery.”


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Prayer rug; Azerbaijan, Kazagh, 19th century; Wool

From the collection of Ed and Joan Safarian, Toronto, Ontario

The diamonds, hexagons and squares on this rug are symmetrically placed on a plain red ground, creating a simple but powerful composition associated with the rugs from Borchalo, a village in today’s Georgia, populated by the Azeri. Its colour scheme consists of three basic colours: red, blue and white with light brown outlining. The red and blue are natural dyes that were still used in the far corners of the Caucasus even after chemical dyes had found their way to cities and towns in the late nineteenth century. The image vocabulary and coloration of Borchalo rugs bear a closer resemblance to Central Asian rugs than any other type from the Caucasus.

Click here for a written transcript of the Ed and Joan Safarian interview


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Interview with Ross Winter

Toronto rug collector and member of the Friends of Oriental Rugs.

“You had to have three rugs to become a member and I didn’t at that time, but somebody took pity on me and accepted me anyways.”


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Rug; Azerbaijan, Gianja, 19th century; Wool

From the collection of Ross Winter, Toronto, Ontario

Rugs with a stripe design are relatively common in the Caucasus and vary in the number, width and directional arrangement of the stripes. In this rug, multicoloured stripes run vertically and are filled with stylized floral and zoomorphic motifs. Rugs with this kind of arrangement and subtle colours are often attributed to Gianja, a town in southwest Azerbaijan. The rug’s even but not overly dense structure supports this attribution. All the dyes look natural, with no fading visible.

Click here for a written transcript of the Ross Winter interview