Elegant and stunning, Karabagh rugs are one of the many treasures of Armenian culture. Representatives of one of four major carpet groups in that region, they were named after the Karabagh region, situated in the south of this mountainous land between the Black and Caspian Seas, bordered by Turkey and Iran.
The Karabagh Region has always been a place where religions, cultures and traditions mixed freely. No wonder they greatly influenced the local craft. Years later, the UNECSO recognized the Karabagh weaving craft. They put it on their list of Masterpieces of Intangible Heritage.
The History of Karabagh Rugs
Since the eleventh century, inhabitants of the Caucasus have produced knotted pile rugs. Weaving carpets was mainly a job for Armenian women. However, there were also extremely talented male weavers who helped to develop this ancient art. The oldest known Karabagh rugs from Armenia come from the early thirteenth century. We call it Artsakh. The rug probably came to existence in the village of Banants, located near Gandzak.
The carpets themselves have an important place in the Armenian culture. The word gorg means a carpet with a thick pile. What is more, we know that people of the thirteenth century already knew its meaning, as they used it in an inscription in the Kaptavan Church in Artsakh. In the nineteenth century Armenian carpet weaving went through a renaissance. Thus, it began to develop really fast. More and more people took interest in the craft – mostly for commercial purposes. Shushi was the town where many weavers lived. It became the center of the regional carpet-making.
The Features of Karabagh Rugs
The most unusual of the antique Karabagh carpets are the rose-patterned ones. The artisans created them in response to the Western taste. They utilized geometric pink and red flowers. Also, they used bouquets arranged in garlands with swags. In addition, the grounds were of dark blue or black. Decorative ideas and motifs came from Persia, Russia, Mongolia, Turkey and Arab countries. Charming Armenian inscriptions inform about the weaver and date of completion of the piece. Thus, the artists proudly displayed them on their rugs. Antique Karabagh rugs are ebullient and theatrical. They usually come in a form of kellehs, gallery carpets and runners.
There are two types of Karabagh rugs: the Armenian and the Azerbaijan ones. Their most popular motifs are depictions of dragons and eagles. The Armenian designs were extremely diverse. This applies not only to their style, but also color. Azerbaijan, on the other hand, had more types. Thus, they were divided into four categories: Guba-Shirvan, Ganje-Kazakh, Karabakh and Tabriz. Each of them was different from the rest, due to different cultural backgrounds, materials and weaving traditions.
Karabagh rugs have one of the oldest patterns among all Caucasian rugs. They are similar to other carpets, such as Aubussons and Savonneries. However, they also represent Armenian culture. Its traditions hides in their beauty and quality. Hardly any carpet can compare to their elegance.