Caucasian Talish Rugs & Carpets


The Talish live along the Caspian coast south of the Viliazh-Chai River". The Talish are Shia Muslim. Ethnologue: Azerbaijan - Talish. The Talish are on both sides of the Azerbaijan Iran border. The Talish were a major Kizilbash tribal confederation.

"Talyshe. This ethnic group abodes in southeast Azerbaijan, specifically in the Lenkoran, Astara and, in part, in the Masally and Lerik districts. According to the 1989 census, there were more than 21,000 Talyshe in Azerbaijan.

In the past, the Talyshe living in the valleys were mainly rice growers and the highlanders were herdsmen. The Talyshe have become deeply integrated with the Azerbaijani ethnic group. The traditions and everyday lives of the Talyshe differ little from those of the Azerbaijanis. Many of the Talyshe are bilingual, speaking both Talyshe and Azerbaijani. 

Talish rugs are typically 2 to 3 times as long as they are wide. They average 80 knots per square inch and have a 1:1 knot ratio. See Stone,Peter. The Oriental Rug Lexicon and Hubel, Reinhard G. The Book of Carpets.

Besides the long narrow format an uncluttered often plain field is expected. Hubel describes the structure as 2 ply wool warps, Twisted and undyed. The wefts are always two shots and usually cotton. Hubel also notes supplementary discontinuous wefts along the sides up to 6 cm into the rug. Selvages are usually blue and sometimes white warped over 1 to 4 warps. Knot counts can range from 75 to 120 knots per square inch. Hubel, Reinhard G. The Book of Carpets.

Examples:

Talish Met Hane
Talish Met Hane

Talish Met Hane
Talish Met Hane

This is a classic 19th century Talish Met Hane rug. These rugs are typically 2 to 3 times as long as they are wide. They average 80 knots per square inch and have a 1:1 knot ratio.

Besides the long narrow format an uncluttered often plain field is expected. Hubel describes the structure as 2 ply wool warps, Twisted and undyed. The wefts are always two shots and usually cotton. Hubel also notes supplementary discontinuous wefts along the sides up to 6 cm into the rug. Selvages are usually blue and sometimes white warped over 1 to 4 warps. Knot counts can range from 75 to 120 knots per square inch. Hubel, Reinhard G. The Book of Carpets.

This is the less common Talish border. More common is the variant without the lines from the blossom to leaves.

The Talish live "along the Caspian coast south of the Viliazh-Chai River". The Talish are Shia Muslim. Ethnologue: Azerbaijan - Talish. The Talish are on both sides of the Azerbaijan Iran border.

Green is the rarest field color in Talish rugs and this is a beautiful example of a rare group.

Who are the Talish?

The Talish are an old tribe in that they date back to at least the 13th century and certainly much earlier. Eiland speculates thousands of years Oriental Rugs A Complete Guide Page 264. The Ethnologue Database places them in the Indo European Family close to Persian. So we may see them as one of the original indigenous Persian people. However James J. Reid notes that the Talish were one of the first four tribes of the Kizilbash. Tribalism and Society in Islamic Iran Page 20. He does note that the early Kizilbash spoke Turkic, Kurdish and possibly Luri.

Reid notes that the the Talish were one of the first four tribes of the Kizilbash. The other three tribes were the Shamlu, Rumlu and Ustajlu. As we can easily see those three each end in Lu which is a form of the Chagatai word Ulus meaning Tribal state so I conclude they are Turko-Mongolic. Talish which is not overtly Turko-Mongolic is linguistically close to Luri may indeed be the Luri that Reid alludes to. Tribalism and Society in Islamic Iran Page 20 - 24.

In the 15th century the Talish occupied the Moghan Steppe as well as the Southeast Caspian shore. Between 1590 and 1595 the Talish joined the great Afshar revolt against Shah Abbas. By 1595 Abbas crushed the revolt and broke up the Afshar. It was at this point that he forced many Afshar to Khorasan, Urumiya, and Mughan. Abbas then gathered up many clans of the rebel tribes and created the Shahsavan. Many of the Talish including the Talish of the Moghan Steppe were drawn into this new Shahsavan confederation. I believe that many of the Shahsavan of the Moghan are descended from those Talish.


Talesh Saliani long rug
Talesh Saliani long rug

Talish-south Shirvan region, south east Caucasus, late 19th century,

9ft. x 3ft.9in. 2.75m. x 1.14m.

Very slight wear in places, repaired kink. Rugs of this format and with this distinctive rosette border were probably made all over the Caucasus.


Karabakh-Talish Rug
Karabakh-Talish Rug

South Caucasus about 1900-1910,

7ft.4in. x 4ft. 2.24m. x 1.22m.

Slight even wear.


Talish Rug, last quarter 19th century
Talish Rug Last quarter 19th century

MEASUREMENTS

Approximately 8ft. 9in. by 3ft. 5in. (2.67 by 1.04m.)

DESCRIPTION

Last quarter 19th century oxidized browns, partially rewoven end guard stripes, minor repiling, repaired slit, minor foldwear,


The Alberto Levi Talish Rug
The Alberto Levi Talish Rug

Talish Rug

Southeast Caucasus

Circa 1830

260 x 108 cm (8’6” x 3’7”)

Symmetrically knotted wool pile on a wool foundation

Open field Talish rugs are one of the most highly prized Caucasian typologies. This rare red ground example is distinguished by the inclusion of anthropomorphic figures that interrupt the emptiness and sparse rosette and concentric square devices. The fluidity of the composition together with the fineness of weaving and the abundant presence of a characteristic apricot colour allow us to date this rug to the first half of the nineteenth century, that is to a period anteceding the mass marketing of Caucasian rugs in the West.


Talish Rug, Southeast Caucasus, 3rd quarter 19th century
Talish Rug Southeast Caucasus 3rd quarter 19th century

Southeast Caucasus,

Third quarter nineteenth century

Oxidized browns, reweaves, loses to sides and ends, approximately 7 ft. 1 in. by 3 ft. 5in. (2.16 by 1.04 m.)


Talish Rug, Southwest Caucasus, mid-19th century
Talish Rug, Southwest Caucasus, mid-19th century

Talish Rug, Southwest Caucasus, mid-19th century

Talish Rug,

A Talish Rug, Southwest Caucasus, mid-19th Century, oxidized browns. Approximately 8 ft. by 3 ft. 6 in. (2.44 m. by 1.07 m.)

Warp: Wool, Z3S, alternate warp moderately to strongly depressed, ivory

Weft: Cotton, Z3S, 2 shoots, white

Pile: Cotton, symmetrical knot

Density: 10-11 horizontal, 10-11 vertical

Sides: Wool, 2 cords of 2 warps each, overcast blue

Ends: Warp fringe

Colors: Venetian red, terra-cotta, ivory, midnight blue, seafoam green, butterscotch, celery, teal green, cornflower blue, rose, deep Wedgewood blue, deep salmon, aqua, mink, celadon, mint, spice, black


A long rug, Talish-/Kuba -AREA, third quarter 19th century
A long rug, Talish-/Kuba -AREA, third quarter 19th century

Title A long rug, TALISH-/Kuba-AREA, third quarter 19th ct., small repairs.

Size 320 x 115 cm


A 19th century Talish village carpet
A 19th century Talish village carpet

Title A Talish rug, CAUCASUS, 19th ct., very minor repairs, corroded browns.

Size 250 x 106 cm


The Alberto Levi Talish Rug, Circa 1860
The Alberto Levi Talish Rug Circa 1860

Talish

Southeast Caucasus

Circa 1860

223 x 112 cm (7'4" x 3'8")

Symmetrically knotted wool pile on a wool foundation

This allover pattern of diagonally arranged cruciforms is quite unusual for Talish rugs. The traditional border is seen here in a variant form, with the enlarged rosettes flanked by two pairs of triangles which alternate with brilliantly colored secondary motifs. The exceptional condition and the use of a soft and silky wool pile place this rug at the pinnacle of the Caucasian weaving tradition.


Talish met hane (plain field) rug
Talish met hane (plain field) rug

South east Caucasus, second half 19th century,

6ft.7in. x 3ft.8in. 2.01m. x 1. 12m.

Even wear overall, some reweaving. The unusual palette and the bold archaic-looking design not only indicate a fairly early date but also the possibility that this may be a Genje or Moghan rug


Antique Talish Rug
Antique Talish Rug

Antique Talish Rug
Antique Talish Rug
Antique Talish Rug

Size: 3'5"x6'2". Age: 1890 circa. Condition: Very good to excellent. Velvety wools with good pile throughout. Few areas slightly lower than others. (no worn areas.) Complete with its original multi-colored edges. Great colors, and designs. Early vegetable dyes, with a old synthetic red. (has some slight bleeding, but hardly noticeable.) Wool warp, and changes of a charcoal black wool weft K.P.S.I.: 7x9.

Here we see one of the normal variations of the Talish borders. Here we have in the main border a large circular floral form flanked by 4 flowers. More common is to have 4 flowers between each large circular floral form but in this rug there are two flowers between each large circular floral form. The guard borders are normal as well. I at a loss to explain then except as connected hooked squares.

Talish Rug?

There are separate linguistic, ethnic, and political definition of people called Talish. There is a Talish language so those who speak Talish are considered Talish. There are also a people who are ethnically Talish who may not speak the language. Then there were those who were politically Talish. In that group were Azeris, Talish, Jews, Persians and anyone who happened to live in the Talish Khanate when it was a Talish Khanate. The point is that this distinctive rug is called a Talish and other distinctly different rugs were woven in the Khanate of Talish. That other types of rugs were woven there and identified as Talish does not mean that this cannot be a Talish.

In the discussion of another Talish a small group of "experts" suggested a rug was not a Talish because they could not see the supplementary wefts that were very apparent in the picture that they were looking at. It baffles me how they could ignore and misrepresent the evidence in front of them. It is not enough to just cite evidence but a responsible scholar must understand that evidence in it's historical context.

Then there is the famous Wright and Wertime Talish in Caucasian Carpets and Covers page 88 illustration 33. All the picture proves is that in 1889 a Talish rug was entered into the Tiflis Carpet exhibition. The rug is a rather typical looking Talish with the typical borders, dimensions and layout and it has large botehs in the field. That does not prove anything other than that someone wove a typical Talish with botehs and entered it in a show. The purpose of the show was to stimulate rug sales so it is very plausible that the designer decided to add botehs to a typical Talish to see if it would sell. We must also be very careful not to judge old traditions on the basis of late circumstantial evidence.