Extremely playful Caucasian Chechen handmade rug on brick red field, including bands of a darker red added as abrash. Multicolored mountain goats, blue people, and a cartoonish character ‘sketched’ in black near the bottom of the rug are a few of the figures woven into the carpet. Much like a scene in a painting, the carpet is oriented in one direction to the viewer.
Excellent overall condition with very minor wear on the wool pile and the side cords. The rug is woven with 100% natural Caucasian wool, including the brown warp threads that finish up the fringe. Just an inch under 9 ft. by 6 ft. in both dimensions.
I’ve had the rug in my collection for about 15 years and I believe it is probably late Soviet era, 1970s or 1980s. Although pieces from Derbent and Dagestan pop up at reasonable prices from time to time, it’s uncommon to encounter much from Chechnya.
Chechnya borders the Caucasus mountains just west of Dagestan; it is highly regarded for the quality of the wool and its carpet weaving traditions, which share the bold characteristics typical of other rugs in the Caucasus. The pile length tends to be medium placing the carpets in between the shorter piled Shirvan and Dagestan types and the thick, robust Kazaks.
Although not an antique, this carpet appears to have been woven using local, naturally dyed wool for the pile. The warp and weft are un-dyed brown wool.
“The Caucasian nomad often knew only two environments during his entire lifetime: the high mountain meadow to which he brought his sheep to graze during the summer, and the deep valley below in which he waited out the winter. He lived in either a small tent blackened with smoke or a ‘kosh’, a dimly lit sod hut literally dug out of a hillside. The nomad learned to have gratitude for anything that provided comfort or beauty, and gratitude that he had life itself.”
Undoubtedly part of the paucity of Chechen carpets in the post-Soviet era results from an extremely destructive civil war that gripped the region from 1994 to 1996 when Russia was still under the blunderous leadership of Boris Yeltsin. Initially, there was a ‘nationalistic’ desire by many to break away from Russia. This was soon dominated by Islamic jihadists who aimed to carve Chechnya out of the Russian Federation and establish a Muslim state.
After an accord was signed in 1996, a stalemate existed until 1999. However, when the Islamic International Brigade launched an invasion of Dagestan in August 1999, the Russian Federation opened the second phase of the Chechen war. This time the far more talented, stable, and vigorous Russian leader Vladimir Putin was in power, and the Russian Federation successfully completed their military campaign in April 2002, reintegrating Chechnya back into Russia.
It remains to be seen if peace and stability in Chechnya will eventually lead to a renaissance in the traditions of carpet weaving. We can hope so.
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