Oriental Rugs: Kazak

Pakistani Rug with Kazak Design

Pakistani Rug with Kazak Design

“Kazak” is a city located in Northwest Azerbaijan with a population of just over twenty thousand people. What makes Kazak an important city is the fact that it controls an area consisting of a series of valleys that extend from modern Azerbaijan into Georgia and Armenia. Most “Kazak” rugs made in this region were woven by Azeri Turks or Armenians. Kazak rugs are associated with the geographical areas in which they were made rather than with any particular tribe. These rugs used to indicate higher social status of their owners and initially were placed in the homes of the rich, in churches, and in palaces. In older pieces of Kazak rugs, strands of silver and gold can occasionally be found. Not only Kazak rugs, but also other types of Oriental rugs made by Armenians were considered a luxury item until recent times as production took on a direction of a more commercial nature.

In most older Caucasian rugs, including the Kazaks, both the knotted pile and the foundation are wool, and they are woven with Turkish knots on wooden looms. In newer pieces, warp threads can be formed by undyed lighter yarn in one area and somewhat darker or mixed in another. The color and the number of selvedge bindings can often be an indication of the exact area of origin for Kazak rugs. These rugs have an irregular number of wefts passing over each row of knots, ranging between two to four, and predominantly made in traditional sizes like 4 X 6 and 5 X 7 as well as hall runners in different lengths. Any piece larger than 8 X 11 would be considered very rare.

“Kazak” is one of the most famous types of Oriental rugs. Antique examples stopped being made around 1920 and should not be mistaken with the so-called “Kazaks” which the Russians have been marketing for the past several years and which are poor-quality copies of a number of Caucasian designs, many of which are not Kazak within the traditional meaning of the word. The colors of a “Kazak” are usually bright reds, blues, greens and yellows, with a large amount of white. One of the most characteristic designs is the so-called sunburst which is in reality a systematic form of the Russian double-headed eagle. Rugs bearing this design are sometimes called Tcherkess. In general, Kazak carpets have a field filled with one or more large geometric medallions usually of rather peculiar shapes, although the Greek cross and a pattern resembling the cross of Lorraine are not uncommon. The border often bears a polychrome crab pattern on an ivory background. Because of the bold, colorful surfaces, and also the extremely hard-wearing nature of the weave, which is coarse but dense, Kazaks are very popular with collectors around the world. The decorative, geometric pattern of Kazak rugs makes them very much appealing to the Western taste. In recent years, Pakistan has been a major producer of rugs with the Kazak design, taking advantage of the beauty of natural dyes and hand-spun wool in production of these rugs.

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