The botanical theme of this yellow-ground runner from Kuba is typical of many rugs from the northern Caucasus, as is the border of sharp rosettes with four leaves on either side. The abundant use of yellow in the field is unusual and probably reflects the local availability of good fast yellow dyes. With their high knot density, rugs from Kuba are considered by many to be the finest of the Caucasian weaves. As is characteristic of rugs from Kuba or the surrounding area, the warps and wefts are of wool, with cotton side cords, and a symmetrically-knotted wool pile.
The term 'Kuba' refers to both the town and the surrounding district, both of which have a long tradition of carpet weaving. The area includes numerous small villages, many of which give their names to their rugs. The large number of designs borrowed and adapted within the area has made the sourcing of carpets to particular villages problematic. The design of this Kuba runner, for example, strongly resembles that of some Shirvan prayer rugs which were formerly ascribed to Daghestan.
The runner belongs to a collection of five rugs and three nomadic trappings selected by the donor as representative of the main carpet making regions of Asia, from Turkey in the west, across Iran (Persia) and into Central Asia. The collection includes floor coverings and tent partitions, horse decorations and saddle bags, thus documenting different types of rugs and trappings as well as highlighting their varying functions.
Christina Sumner, Principal Curator Design & Society