Caucasian rugs come from The Caucasus. The Caucasus Mountains are a region between the Black and Caspian Seas that adjoins both Turkey and Iran (1). Until the 19th century, the Caucasus was part of the Persian Empire who ceded it to Imperial Russia. The word Armenian is often used in older books as a synonym for Caucasian which can be misleading (2).
While the region was under Persian rule, its weavers maintained older traditions using bright colors and strong geometric patterns along with human and animal figures rather than adopting the curving designs and floral imagery of Iran. Caucasian rugs are usually woven with the Turkish knot. These modern rugs are more standardized than the older Caucasian designs and cannot be identified with certain regions like older Caucasian rugs. In older rugs the foundation was almost always wool whereas modern rugs employ cotton foundations (1). The Karabagh has particularly crude floral designs and the Shirvan is more floral than usual for a Caucasian rug. Nearly all Caucasian rugs tend to be bright and colorful and it is rare to find them in large sizes. Many Caucasian carpets use bold, primitive geometric forms (2).
The Caucasus have produced very distinctive rug types since at least the end of the 18th century. Natural dyes were used exclusively until the 1860s when synthetic dyes began to appear (3).The colors of Caucasian carpets over 100 years old or more were produced from natural materials found in the respective tribal regions such as plants, herbs, roots, minerals, insects and mollusks. These colors included deep greens, vibrant yellows and deep rose tones. Weft threads can be different colors including red, brown, blue or white, and are typically red in the Kazak district. The colors of selvedges can often be an identifier to the area of origin of a particular carpet (5).
(1) Jerrehian, Aram K. Jr. Oriental Rug Primer; Buying and Understanding New Oriental Rugs. Pennsylvania, Running Press, 1980. Print.
(2) Bennett, Ian. Book of Oriental Carpets and Rugs. New York, The Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited, 1972. Print.
(3) Anabels Oriental Rugs. Caucasus. Louisville, Kentucky, 2013.<http://www.anabelsorientalrugs.com/types-of-rugs/caucasus/>.
(4) Bukhara-Carpets.com. About Caucasian Rugs. 2012. <http://www.bukhara-carpets.com/making/caucasian-carpets.html>
(5) Claremont Rug Company. Caucasian Rugs: Basic Facts. Jan David Winit, 2013. <http://www.claremontrug.com/educational-center/rugtypes/caucasian.aspx>