DERBEND ORIENTAL RUGS
Derbend oriental rugs (Derbent, Derabend) are a type of Northern Caucasus rug made in and around the city of Derbend (Derbent) in the upper northeast corner of what is now the Russian Republic of Dagestan. The Republic is bordered on the East by the Caspian Sea and on the South by Azerbaijan.
The port of Derbent (as it is now called) is Russia's southernmost city and may very well be the oldest city in Russia as well. Its strategic location, occupying a narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains, has for centuries made it vulnerable to many different conquerors and cultures. These have included the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan, and Iranian kingdoms. The 1813 Treaty of Gulistan put the city into Russian hands.
When the Russians set up their administrative districts, they combined the mountainous area of what is now Dagestan with the flat area near the sea known as Derbend (Derbent), and called the entire area Dagestan.
Today, although Russian is the official language, there are more than 30 commonly spoken local languages. Unfortunately, this region is a very heterogeneous, ethnically diverse area and can tend to be unstable.
WEAVING IN THE CAUCASUS MOUNTAINS
Weaving in the Caucasus regions can be traced back as far as the Bronze age. Along with the Derbend oriental rugs, other notable rugs from the Northern Caucasus region include the Kuba and the Dagestan.
The Kazak, Karabagh, Gendje, Moghan, Talish, and Shirvan rugs were the major rugs from the Southern Caucasus region.
Antique rugs from these regions were often mislabeled as coming from major collecting points, rather than the actual area where they were woven, making positive identification difficult.
CONSTRUCTION OF DERBEND ORIENTAL RUGS
Derbend oriental rugs share many of the general features of the Dagestan rugs but are typically much bolder and more crude. They also are larger in size, are more coarse, have longer pile, fewer colors, and figures are not clearly defined.
The warp (up and down cords) and weft (side to side cords) are usually wool but the Turkoman influence on the Derbend area resulted in goat's hair being used for the warp in many of the rugs (rather than wool) giving the rugs a wilder appearance with a darker hue.
The pile is wool and, as mentioned above, it is usually longer than the other rugs in the area.
The knot is the symmetrical or Turkish knot.
The sides of the Derbend oriental rugs are overcast, some with several colors of yarn.
The ends are typically finished with 4 rows of knots in the solid selvage where the fringes grow out. Often, however, the warp and weft are woven together in a broad web (also borrowed from their Turkoman neighbors).
DESIGN OF DERBEND ORIENTAL RUGS
As mentioned above, the Derbend oriental rugs followed many of the general features of the Dagestan oriental rugs, such as the use of lattice patterns and geometric flowers.
There can be a main design with a large star (such as an elongated Yomud star) or some other geometrical figure which may be repeated 3 or 5 times diagonally on a field of blue or red. Figures on a blue field will often have predominantly red and saffron yellow colors. If the field is red, the figures will usually have blue and yellow colors.
The latch-hook motif can be an important part of the design.
Border stripes are clearly defined as in most of the other Caucasian rugs.
The Derbend oriental rugs have a natural sheen or luster. This is a characteristic of many of the Caucasian rugs. It may come from the yarn being rubbed under the coarse woolen socks of the weavers or it may be a result of the yarn being dyed without washing out the natural oil from the wool, making the yarns spread out into a cluster of fibers which reflect the light.
DERBEND ORIENTAL RUGS TODAY
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