This is one of a very small number of rugs that are united not just by their design and colouring, but also, in all but one case, by their structure, with cotton warps and silk wefts. All are dated, ranging from as early as AH 1190/1776-7 AD to AH 1233/1817-18 AD. A listing is given of six complete dated examples, plus a fragment and a later closely related example, together with their various publication details, by Ralph Kaffel (Caucasian Prayer Rugs, London, 1998, no.31, p.77, and in particular the note on p.177). However since that article was written, two further examples have come to light. The first was sold in these Rooms, 13 October, 2005, lot 38, and was dated AH 1233/1817-18 AD. The second is the present lot which is dated AH 1226/1811 AD and which up to this point was previously unpublished.
The structure suggests a possible link to the even smaller number of eighteenth century Caucasian shield carpets such as that in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection (Friedrich Spuhler, Carpets and Textiles, London, 1998, no.34, pp.142-3), and similarly to a very small number of dragon carpets, one of which was formerly in the McMullan Collection and is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, another of which was sold in these Rooms 15 October 1998, lot 272 (Marino dall'Oglio, 'A White Ground Dragon Carpet: a study of the design and relevant comparisions, Hali Vol.II, no.1, Spring 1978, pl.7, p.18). The present group of prayer rugs is however finer woven, and of a different aesthetic, so the similarity in structure may just be fortuitous.
This very small group of prayer rugs is a very important one to our understanding of Caucasian weaving at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Their dates, the silk wefting and their fineness of weave all show the best quality that could be produced in the region. Yet the designs are no longer the large scale designs based originally on Persian carpets like those mentioned in the last paragraph. Here one can see, already fully developed, the aesthetic of Caucasian rugs of the nineteenth century.