Interesting Antique Caucasian Rug from the UUCSS Event
We had a great turnout at the Antique Appraisal Day and Gold and Silver Buying fundraising event at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga Springs this past Saturday. As is usual for these events, we saw many wonderful treasures including this 19th-century Caucasian Kazak long rug that was brought in.
The size of this Caucasian rug (5 feet by 10 feet) suggests that it is a “kellegi,” which was one of the rugs in a traditional Persian layout of four rugs in the central room of the house. These are often called “long rugs” in the trade, because of the long orientation that does not correspond to most Western room proportions. These typically date to or before the late 19th century, when most rugs in the Middle East started to be sized more for the Western market with typical 8-by-10-foot or 9-by-12-foot proportions.
This example is quite nice, with all natural dyes including two distinct and well-defined madder reds. Madder root is the one of the sources of red dye used in the Middle East for dying wool. The exact tone and nuance of red depends on the age of the root. The tone and intensity of the colors in this rug are particularly beautiful; you can appreciate why collectors of these rugs disdain rugs made with the synthetic dyes that came into use in the late 19th century and characteristically had a harsher, brighter look.
It is interesting that when these new synthetic dyes came out they were very expensive and were added in small amounts to handmade rugs in the Middle East as a “special” feature. Paradoxically, this special feature devalues a rug significantly in the modern market. Antique rugs like this with areas of pile with synthetic dye are sometimes re-piled with natural dyed wool to raise their value and marketability.
Notice the pleasing “abrash” or variation of intensity in the background green in the outer border. This play of tone in a solid color in a rug, when attractive to the eye, is a plus and contributes to a overall desirable look and consequent value in the marketplace.