This wonderful rug is a member of a small and rare group of blue-ground Caucasian rugs whose design is dominated by a prominent decahedral gabled ivory medallion. The overall pattern echoes that of a group of earlier 17th and 18th century north west Persian carpets, whose designs were based upon the Persian garden plan, known as the "Four Gardens" or Chahar Bagh, (M.S.Dimand & J. Mailey, Oriental Rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1973, p.84, fig.116. The smaller lozenges that extend above and below the central medallion on the present lot, are linked by a narrow vertical channel which represents the streams and ornamental pools that feed the flowering trees and shrubs on either side. The once eight-pointed medallion, that is an archaic form found in early Anatolian and Caucasian rugs, and which continues to be used throughout the nineteenth century in Fachralo rugs, here has been simplified to just six points. Further more, the formerly square compartments filled with trees, are replaced here with "Memling" guls, most commonly associated with the weavings from the Moghan district in the Caucasus.
The motif that remains open to interpretation however, is the zoomorphic form within either corner of the ivory medallion. Although they resemble four-legged animals with a blunt hammer-head, it is more probable that these heavily abstracted forms represent the branched fruiting trees, that became increasingly geometric in form in the 'Garden' carpets woven in the latter years of the 18th century.
Seven other examples have been published, one in the Rudnick Collection, which is dated and most likely reads 1833 (J. Bailey and M. Hopkins, Through the Collector's Eye - Oriental Carpets from New England Private Collections, Providence Rhode Island 1991, no.20, p.66); one by Gans-Ruedin, Caucasian Carpets, New York, 1986, pl.118, which like the Sotheby's and Bennett examples only has two columns of 'Memling' guls above and below the central medallion while the others all have three; two by Eberhart Herrmann; the first dated to either 1844 or 1850 (E. Herrmann, Seltene Orienteppiche IV, Munich, 1982, p.152, no.46 and Herrmann, Kaukasische Teppichkunst Im 19. Jahrhundert Ein Bilderbuch, Munich 1993, p.61, pl.45); one of slightly shortened proportions by Ian Bennett, (Bennett, Oriental Rugs, Volume I Caucasian, London, 1981, p.79, no.66), and two examples that sold at auction in the same week; Sotheby's London, 28 April 1993, lot 16 and Christie's London, 29 April, 1993, lot 357.
Apart from the Rudnick example which has a 'Shield' border, all of the other rugs share the same border pattern that consists of a series of small hexagons enclosing a large 'S' motif, with every other hexagon set within paired double-ended zoomorphs. The origin of this design stems from earlier Caucasian 'Dragon' carpets, and is almost identical to that of an eighteenth century east Caucasian rug, formerly in the collection of the late Lehmann-Bärenklau, which sold in these Rooms, 19 April 2016, lot 20. The border is most frequently flanked by white ground guard stripes which display small flowerheads with a further inner frame of small space-invader motifs. The present lot is an exception to this, in that the outer guard stripe displays a polychrome zig-zag and the space-invaders decorate only the sides of the large central medallion.
An interesting rug in the Vakiflar Museum combines elements of this field with a debased version of the border but replaces the Memling guls with minor Karatchopf octagons (Serare Yetkin, Early Caucasian Carpets in Turkey, London 1978, Vol.1, pl.98). When discussing this rug, Tschebull (op.cit. pl.40), questions the short pile, loosely packed wefts and unusual end braids, as not being typical characteristics of Kazak rugs but as Hali suggests, despite having strong Moghan and Gendje attributes, further research is required, ("Auction Price Guide", Hali, June/July 1993, Issue 69, p.147. Of this rare group, the present rug is the best preserved and has a variety and depth of colour that is not matched.