Guide to Caucasian Kazak Rugs & Carpets

Qazax (Kazakh, Kazak, Kasak, Gazakh). The most used spelling today is Qazax but rug people use Kazak too.

History / Background
When we speak of Kazak rugs we are referring to rugs from the old Kazak Khanate. Qazax is a city of about twenty thousand people in Northwest Azerbaijan at 41.10°N, 45.35°E.

In the Caucasus people live in valleys and mountain peaks are the dividers. Kazak was an important city because it controlled a series of valleys that extend from modern Azerbaijan into Armenia and Georgia.

The people of this region are Azeri Turks, Armenians, Albanians, and Northern Caucasian. There are also Greeks, Russians, and Georgians, in the area but they do not appear to have made a significant number of rugs.

Map of Kazak area
map of Kazak area

Due to the fighting between Russia and the Ottomen Empire by 1830 thousands of the Muslims had recently moved out of the Province of Erevan. The Kameral'noe Opisanie notes more than 1/3 of all of the villages were abandoned. A large portion of Armenian imagration into Erevan was in the Gokcha Mahal the area north and northwest of Lake Van ( the large lake bottom center in the map below). Please note that major weaving areas such as Pambak and the Idjevan area were in the hands of the Russians prior to 1829.

Note the figures above, immigrant Armenians dominate both red and blue dyeing and spinning. Looms last a long time but two Immigrant Armenians were loom makers. The Russians did not record home industrty such as rug weaving but I am convinced that a huge numer of rugs were woven by Armenians from 1829 onwards. Now look again at thje maps. The area of major Armenian population growth was in an area that geography guided trade. If you were taking goods to market obviously you would not haul them at great risk to life and limb over snow covered peaks. The trade path funneled trade goods to Kazak and Gendge. So what do we call the Armenian rugs? Kazak and Gendge.

So while not all Kazak (and Gendge) rugs are Armenian, most of what we know as Kazak is Armenian.

Typical Rug Kazak Structure

Structure: Symmetrical. 40 to 60 kpsi. Not depressed.

Yarn Spin: Z.

Warp: most have 3 ply wool some 2, natural colored.

Weft: 2 – 6 shots of 2 ply wool. Usually red, Sometimes yellow, blue in late pieces.

Pile: 2 Wool singles.

Ends: Upper - often has plainweave with warp fringe. Lower - loops or half-hitch end finish.

Selvages: 2 – 4 warp units reinforced often using pile colors. Outer warp units are frequently attached interlaced warp units.

Similar Rugs

Karabagh rugs are often very similar to Kazaks but tend to have fewer wefts usually two and the wefts are undyed.

Turkish Kazaks are similar to Kazaks but have more subdued colors. Reds are much more muted.

Examples:

The Purdon Kazak Rug
The Purdon Kazak Rug

Kazak Rug South Caucasus

Circa 18807'0" x 4'5"

(214 x 143cm)

Notes: I see this as Kazak Rugs: The Purdon Marneuli Kazak Rug. I think it is from what is now the Republic of Georgia in the Marneuli region.


Kazak Prayer Rug
Kazak Prayer Rug

MEASUREMENTS

Approximately 4ft. 3in. by 3ft. 3in. (1.29 by 0.99m.)

DESCRIPTION

Mid-19th century oxidized browns, partial lower end border, foldwear, Kashmiri repiling, patch, reselvaged with fraying,

Note: At the risk of seeming overly provocative this reminds me of a Saliani. If the owner of this rug reads this how about letting me see it in person.


A Splendid Kazak Rug early 20th century
A Splendid Kazak Rug early 20th century

Title A splendid Kazak rug, CAUCASUS, early 20th century

Size 207 x 153 cm


Antique Caucasian Kazak Rug
Antique Caucasian Kazak Rug
Antique Caucasian Kazak Rug

6 foot 1 inch by 3 foot 11 inch.

This is an Antique Caucasian Kazak Rug in very good condition. Please note the prominent placement of cross or X forms.

Color is difficult over the internet, please use the Direct Scan below for the best representation of color in this rug.

Antique Caucasian Kazak Rug, 19th Century. 6 foot 1 inch by 3 foot 11 inch.

Structure: Symmetrical knot. 8 knots per horizontal inch and 6 knots per vertical inch. 48 per square inch (744 per square decimeter)

Yarn Spin: Z.

Warp: 2 ply wool.

Weft: 2 shot red wool.

Pile: 3 wool singles.

Ends: 1/2 inch half-hitch bands.

Selvages: Single cord double wrap with dark brown wool.

Further Notes: Very Good Condition. Good Pile This rug would rate an excellent condition except for two reweaves, one about 5 inches by 1 inch and one a little over one inch square.  The rug looks great and the repair is very good.

There is a ongoing argument in Caucasian Rug Scholarship. One view that seems to be in the ascendancy is that most Kazak rugs are actually woven by Armenians. Those adherents of that view point to crosses such as this one and suggest it is symbolic of the Armenian Christian weavers. The other side adhered to by a decreasing but vocal minority suggests that no Christians wove and that this cross is symbolic of nothing.


Kazak Rug
Kazak Rug

MEASUREMENTS

149 by 141cm. 4ft. 11in. by 4ft. 7in.


Kazak Rug
Kazak Rug 2

A Kazak rug, West Caucasus, circa 1890

MEASUREMENTS

239 by 139cm. 7ft. 10in. by 4ft. 7in.


Inscribed Dated Armenian Kazak Rug
Inscribed Dated Armenian Kazak Rug
Inscribed Dated Armenian Kazak Rug 2

4 foot 6 inch by 7 foot 1 inch.

This is an outstanding Full Pile Kazak dated 1936. The rug is thick and full like real Kazak are when they are new, the design is a three medallion Kazak and the medallions are a Memling Gul design. The inclusion of a western date and the inscription "hABA" indicates an Armenian provenance.

USE This is an obvious designer piece. No repairs with near new condition. Full pile and no corroded colors. Ideal for floor use in a better home.

Color is difficult over the internet, please review the Direct Scans below for the best representation of color in this rug.

Kazak Rug Caucasus, dated 1936,. 4 foot 6 inch by 7 foot 1 inch. (Not including fringe)

Structure: Symmetrical pulled right. 8 knots per horizontal inch and 7 knots per vertical inch. 56 per square inch (868 per square decimeter).

Yarn Spin: Z.

Warp: 3 ply ivory wool.

Weft: 2 shots 2 ply wool brown.

Pile: 2 Wool singles.

Ends: Top: 1 1/4 inch skirt. Bottom 3/4 inch skirt with warp fringe.

Selvages: 2 cord red wool

Further Notes: The rug is in Near Mint condition. Full Pile Intact Ends No Repair.


Antique Kazak Carpet
Antique Kazak Carpet
Antique Kazak Carpet 2

In Caucasian Rugs COLOR is the Critical Factor. This Rug has Very Good COLOR. This Rug has excellent drawing and is well spaced. This is a very good very collectable antique Kazak.

One day I was studying the translation of the "Yuan chao pi-shih" by the late Francis Woodman Cleaves, Professor Emeritus of Far Eastern Languages at Harvard University. Cleaves did a masterful job but in section 64 I realized Cleaves mistranslated Kazak. He translates it to mean Kirghiz but that does not fit the paragraph. In a discussion of a young woman leaving her family to marry into a new tribe it does not fit for her to ride a Kirghiz cart because the Kirghiz have nothing to do with the story. The key is that the girl is leaving her clan. Kazak refers to the ritual of packing ones cart and leaving the authority of ones people. This fit with my studies that indicated that when people left the Horde they were called Kazak. This was the case in the Caucasus where Kazaks broke away from the authority of the IL-Khanid and then maintained their independence throughout the years against the Turks and the Persians. So in the Caucasus when we say Kazak we are referring to people whose ancestors were Mongols but broke away.

Kazak Rug. Caucasus, 19th Century. 4 foot 8 inch, by 8 foot 4 inch.

Structure: Symmetrical. 7 knots per horizontal inch and 6 knots per vertical inch. 42 per square inch (650 per square decimeter).

Yarn Spin: Z.

Warp: 2 ply wool undyed ivory wool.

Weft: 2 shots 2 ply dark brown wool.

Pile: 2 Wool singles.

Ends: Top 1 inch skirt bottom warp fringe.

Selvages: Not original.

Further Notes: Some old repairs and reweaves. Full Intact rug, no missing borders, no holes no slits no structural problems etc...

This rug is free from the cookie cutter rigidity that makes many Caucasians rather boring. Some rugs came from the people and retain a spontaneity that the "Kustar" rugs lacked. Kustar refers to a Russian Government program to boost exports by encouraging rug production. The problem was that they encouraged people to abandon their ancient designs and weave copies of Government approved designs.

A Note on Condition:

This condition rug is suitable floor use. It is a very collectable piece and I would certainly not put it in a high traffic area. But the condition of this piece is very good.


Opposing Mihrabs Kazak Rug 19th century
Opposing Mihrabs Kazak Rug 19th century

Title An unusual Kazak Rug, CAUCASUS, 2nd half 19th century, minor resto.

Size 225 x 108 cm


Kazak Rug 8 pointed star medallion 19th century
Kazak Rug 8 pointed star medallion 19th century

Title A Kazak rug, Caucasus, 19th century, corroded browns, small repiled areas.

Size 282 x 140 cm


Kazak Rug with Structure
Kazak Rug with Structure
Kazak Rug with Structure 2

A Kazak Rug, Southwest Caucasus, last quarter 19th Century. Approximately 8 ft. 11 in. by 4 ft. 6 in. (2.73 m. by 1.38 m.)

Warp: Wool, Z3S, natural light brown

Weft: Wool, Z, Z2, 2-4 shoots, light red

Pile: Wool, symmetrical knot

Density: 7 horizontal, 7 vertical

Sides: Wool, 3 cords of 2 warps, overcast light red and red

Ends: Upper - weft float weave, wool, light red 1/2 in.

Lower - weft float weave, wool, light red 1/2 in.

Colors: ivory, yellow, red, blue, green, dark brown


Kazak rug South Caucasus, circa 1900
Kazak rug South Caucasus, circa 1900
Kazak rug South Caucasus, circa 1900 2

Kazak rug

South Caucasus, circa 1900 oxidized browns.

Warp: Wool, Z3S ivory.

Weft: Wool Z2S, 2 –5 shoots red.

Pile: Wool Symmetrical knot.

Density: 7-8 H, 7-8 V

Sides: Wool 2 cords of 2 warps each, overcast red.

Ends: Upper – ½ inch red kilim folded over.

Ends: Lower 1 inch red kilim then warp loops.

Size: Approximately 8 ft. 2 inch by 4 foot 10 inches (2.49 by 1.47)

Colors: Cranberry, pomegranate, deep madder red, teal blue, ivory, light to deep cornflower blue, peach, lapis, midnight blue walnut.

Kazak rugs that look like Talish Meta Hane rugs are attributed to Lambalo.

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


Kazak Three Medallion Rug dated 1871 - 72
Kazak Three Medallion Rug dated 1871 - 72

South Caucasus dated 1288AH (1871-2CE),

6ft.10in. x 5ft.7in. 2.08m. x 1.70m.

Overall wear, heavy in places.


Kazak Triple Medallion
Kazak Triple Medallion
Kazak Triple Medallion 2

Kazak Triple Medallion

Age: circa 1930

Dimension: 205 cm X 135 cm

Knots: symmetric H 24/10cm V 36/10cm 864/dm² 55/ sq. in.

Warp: thick white and brown twisted wool, Z3S

Wefts: chemical red died wool, Z2S, two shoots, no depression, flat back

Handle: floppy

Selvedges: flat selvedges – 4 cords of two warps – 2 cords wrapped with dark brown wool and 2 cords wrapped with pink and gray dyed wool giving a tooth edging appearance.

Ends: not original!

Colors: mixture of natural and chemical dies, madder red, chemical pink and red in the small designs with traces of runs, white, medium brown, saffron, oxidized black and dark brown, medium green.

Condition: bad repairing at the bottom, lot of red aniline runs and pinkish back.

In "Caucasian" Ian Bennett made the following observations: “the foundation is usually all wool, the warps of gray or brown, the wefts one of various shades of pink or red ... the best, and presumably oldest triple medallion Kazaks may have knot counts as high as 1200/dm² (77 per sq. in.), dropping down to around 600 (38) in very coarse example … the overall composition has affinities with East-Turkestan rugs.

Comments: this is a late example of what is labeled “Triple-medallion Kazak”, from the south west Caucasus inhabited by Armenians. Typically three hexagonal medallions, two white and one blue, or vice versa, lie on a red field surround by three borders.

The outer white medallions contain here as in many rugs of this type the arrow-block motif and a cruciform flower that show a clear affinity with the Lori-Pambak Kazaks from the west central Caucasus.

The rosettes main border is common. Other common types of main borders found in this type of rug are the leaf and calyx border and the blocks of arrow border.

The two minor borders often contain small rosettes or small diamonds or the trefoil (medachyl) design. Small geometrical motifs and stylized animals are scattered on the field.


Antique 3-Medallion Kazak Rug
Antique 3-Medallion Kazak Rug
Antique 3-Medallion Kazak Rug 2

Antique 3-Medallion Kazak Rug

4 foot 11 inch by 8 foot 1 inch.

This is a 3-medallion Kazak from the Caucasus. Nicely drawn rug in good condition.

Color is difficult over the internet, please use the Direct Scan below for the best representation of color in this rug

Kazak Rug, Caucasus, Circa 1900. 4 foot 11 inch by 8 foot 1 inch. (Not including fringe)

Structure: Symmetrical. 7 knots per horizontal inch and 6 knots per vertical inch. 42 per square inch (651 per square decimeter). Not depressed.

Yarn Spin: Z.

Warp: 2 ply brown wool.

Weft: 2 shots, red wool.

Pile: 2 Wool singles.

Ends: Bottom--1/4-inch plainweave with warp fringe, reduced. Top--partial half-hitch end finish.

Selvages: 3 cords wrapped in wool using pile colors.

Further Notes: This rug is in good condition for its age. Browns are somewhat corroded, plus there are some areas of wear in the middle of the rug, particularly visible in the white medallion. In addition, there are two lines of missing pile, each around 1/4 inch wide and around 4-5 inches long. Minor areas of wear and breakage on selvages. This rug dates from between 1880 and 1913.

This rug has three medallions flanked on either side by diamonds. It is well drawn, the colors mellow and harmonious.


The Willborg 1850-1875 Kazak Rug
The Willborg 1850-1875 Kazak Rug

Type: Kazak

Origin: SW. Caucasus - Armenia

Circa: 1850-1875

Length: 84 inches / 214 cms

Width: 67 inches / 170 cms


Step Medallion Kazak Rug
Step Medallion Kazak Rug
Step Medallion Kazak Rug 2
Step Medallion Kazak Rug 3
Step Medallion Kazak Rug 4

I am intrigued by this rug and I feel as if I am missing something. I think it is most certainly Kazak but I think a further designation is in order. With the compartmental design I tend to think it is from somewhere in the southern Bordjalou area or perhaps Shulaver.

This is a classic Kazak back. The back is flat, there is no warp depression. Note also how some rows have two shots of weft and others have four.

Description

Here is an antique high grade Kazak rug, circa 1880, measuring 4ft.3in. X 7ft 1in. Kazak rugs are distinguished by their bold designs and graphic colorful imagery.

This piece typifies what many are looking for in the best Caucasian weavings available. It has a rich palate with a full pile. It is in excellent condition with original selvages and ends; I see no repair on this rug at all. The cool blue ground color provides a wonderful contrast for the three large latch-hook medallions, which appear to be free among the waters of the field on this fine weavings.

The strength of the medallions combined with their separation by structural bars contributes to the impression of a light yet meaningful rug. This is in fact a very substantial and robust weaving capable of handling all kinds of situations. The Turkic influence and randomness of tertiary elements in the field is especially pleasing, dispelling the impression of any sort of workshop production which are inevitably stiffer and less interesting to the consumer.

This rug simply has great wool and masterful dyes that make it a rare catch, a collector's rug.

The white lambs wool in the borders looks very nice against the primary colors of the border. The proportion of the borders to the field also contributes to an aesthetically pleasing composition that is easy on the eyes. The strong optical effect of the main border serves as the perfect foil for the floating polygons of the field framed by the sea green outer border.

The tertiary elements in the field too contribute to brilliance and open space that is immediately evident in the rug. There certainly was no effort to fill space just for the sake of filling it, resulting in a dramatic weaving of considerable decorative quality. This rug would make a great point from which to decorate a whole room and what a Bohemian statement that will be!


Antique Kazak Rug
Antique Kazak Rug
Antique Kazak Rug 2
Antique Kazak Rug 3

In Caucasian Rugs COLOR is the Critical Factor

This Rug has outstanding COLOR.

This Rug has excellent drawing and the juxtaposition of color in the field elements prevents the piece from being too crowded. January 9th 1998 a West Virginia bedroom dealer was supposed to give the Saturday Rug Appreciation program at the Textile Museum but due to the weather was unable to make it. So Harold Keshishian filled in and asked me to help. I brought this rug in to show since it looks good and it was on the top of the stack. Harold commented to the audience that this was "a very powerful rug" the best piece of the morning. Harold pointed out that this rug is very unusual in that the inner guard border is red and the outer guard border is blue rather than both the same color as is typical.

This is one of the best rugs that I have offered so far but I hope it is of interest.

Some people theorize that the boteh originated in the area of around Baku in the Caucasus. I think that may be a little fanciful but it is obvious that the boteh is an old design in the Caucasus and when done well can have a high visual impact.

Kazak Rug Caucasus, 19th Century. 3 foot 4 inch by 8 foot 8 inch.

Structure: Symmetrical. 6 knots per horizontal inch and 7 knots per vertical inch. 42 per square inch (650 per square decimeter).

Yarn Spin: Z.

Warp: 3 ply wool undyed ivory wool.

Weft: 3 shots cotton.

Pile: 2 Wool singles.

Ends: reduced with warp fringe.

Selvages: Not original.

A Note on Condition:

This rug is in very good condition except for the selvages. They need to be rewrapped. This is a very simple repair and I would be glad to recommend a skilled repairman to take care of this. The scan at left is typical of the worst of the selvage problems. The ends also need to be stabilized with small area of minor loss.


A Boteh Kazak
A Boteh Kazak

MEASUREMENTS
approximately 7ft. 1in. by 3ft. 10in. (2.16 by 1.17m.)
DESCRIPTION
late 19th century repiling, reweaves, partially reselvaged, rewoven ends,


The Alberto Levi Sevan Kazak Rug
The Alberto Levi Sevan Kazak Rug

Sevan Kazak

Southwest Caucasus

Circa 1880

247 x 187 cm (8'1" x 6'2")

Symmetrically knotted wool pile on a wool foundation

The large shield medallion dominating the field of this piece defines the rare Sevan type, name after the lake located in present-day Armenia. The wide dimensions of this rug allow for a more spacious yet incisive design. The outstanding condition of this piece allows us to fully appreciate its rich and varied use of colour, as well as the wonderfully lustrous pile - both qualities being exemplary of the best nineteenth-century Caucasian weavings.


Sewan Kazak Rug last quarter 19th Century
Sewan Kazak Rug last quarter 19th Century

Sewan Kazak Rug last quarter 19th Century 2

A Sewan Kazak Rug, Southwest Caucasus, last quarter 19th Century, oxidized browns. Approximately 7 ft. 3 in. by 4 ft. 10 in. (2.21 m. by 1.47 m.)

Warp: Wool, Z4S, ivory

Weft: Wool, Z2S (loosely plied), 3-5 shoots, red

Pile: Wool, symmetrical knot

Density: 7-8 horizontal, 7-10 vertical

Sides: Wool, 3 cords of 2 warps each, overcast red

Ends: Upper - 3/4 in. macramé over 1/2 in. red kilim

Lower - 1/4 in. red kilim, warp fringe

Colors: Madder red, sage, teal green, chamois, moss, bone, light, indigo, lapis, seal brown, pewter

Sewan Kazak Rugs are part of the broader category of Caucasian Rugs and Caucasian Carpets


Sewan Kazak Rug
Sewan Kazak Rug

Sewan Kazak Rug 2

A Sewan Kazak Rug

Southwest Caucasus, third quarter 19th century. Partially oxidized browns.. 5 ft. 7 in. by 7 ft. 7 in. (170 by 231 cm)


Sewan Kasak rug 19th century
Sewan Kasak rug 19th century

Title A Kasak rug, CAUCASUS, 19th ct., corroded browns, small areas of losses to pile, repiled areas.

Size 196 x 148 cm


 

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