Treasures from the Carolina Cache and Nine Other Private Collections

Antique Caucasian Carpet

Antique Caucasian Shirvan Rug

People often ask us, “Where do you get such beautiful antique rugs?” Claremont Rug Company’s international buying team is continually seeking out the most breathtaking Oriental carpets for our customers who are furnishing their homes and the rarest 19th century Persian and Caucasian rugs for our connoisseur clients.

The Carolina Cache featured here is the largest of the acquisitions we have made this winter. Each of the 19th century carpets from this estate of a Southern banker is a standout, all 35 pieces revealing his unerring eye for uniqueness and artistic harmony.

The gallery also contains some of the dynamic antique carpets we recently acquired from Nine Other Private Caches as far flung as Greenwich and New Orleans, Pebble Beach and Yerevan, Armenia, Hawaii and Montreal. Don’t miss the exquisitely woven circa 1850 Senneh rug so fine you can fold it like a handkerchief. Or the glorious rainbow of soft colors in an oversize Sultanabad from the Carolina Cache. Or the mesmerizing iconography of a rare red-ground Caucasian Bidjov Shirvan.

VIEW A KALEIDOSCOPE OF OUR JUST-ACQUIRED ANTIQUE ART CARPETS

We look forward to introducing you to the many other Persian and tribal rugs in the caches represented here and to answering your specific inquiries.

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Claremont Rug Company Reports “Intense Interest” in Bostonian Collection

U.S., International Art Collectors See ‘Best of Best’ Trove as Significant Investment Opportunity

Hadji Jallili Tabriz Antique CarpetJan David Winitz, an eminent art dealer who specializes in 19th century antique Oriental rugs, today reported “an intense interest” in The Bostonian Collection, a trove of important, art-level to museum-caliber Persian and Caucasian rugs assembled by a New England-based family and held over four generations.

Winitz, president and founder of Claremont Rug Company, said, “Over one-third of the Bostonian Collection carpets have been sold within the first few weeks since opening the exhibit. A common theme among the buyers is their appreciation for the ‘best of the best’ quality of these antique rugs.”

Included in the Collection were 50 Persian, Caucasian and Turkish rugs woven 1800 to 1850 as well a significant number of early to mid-19th century examples of art/investment level Persian Motasham Kashan, Laver Kirman and Kermanshah rugs. Art collectors consider it one of the top three private acquisitions in the past decade.

Additional information about the “Bostonian Collection” event may be obtained from Claremont Rug Company (1-800-441-1332). A video of “The Bostonian Collection” is also available online.

Winitz said the largest number of purchases to date have been made by clients from Silicon Valley, where entrepreneurs, financial executives and venture capitalists have increasingly shown an interest in rare, 19th century Persian rugs. More than 10 percent of the buyers have been from outside the U.S.

Over the past several years, the international art-collecting community has shown a deepening appreciation of the importance and relative value of antique Oriental rugs. “The Bostonian Collection has attracted intense interest from sophisticated art collectors who are newcomers to antique rugs,” he said. He also said, “Many buyers are those furnishing new homes who are accustomed to buying top caliber items.”

Similarly, as Douglas Druick, president and director of the Art Institute of Chicago, recently told the Washington Post, “It’s not like that moment in the late ’80s where everything — the best and the less-than-best — was rising. Now the market is much more savvy.”

In the case of the 180-piece Bostonian Collection, it is the first time that many of these antique rugs have been seen outside the family since they were originally acquired. Some of the Oriental carpets have been in storage since their purchase in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The provenance of many of the pieces is traceable to their original acquisition in the Near East. “And, because they were held privately, none of these rugs have previously been documented in the literature,” said Winitz.

“The family began collecting in the late 1800s and were among the first generation of serious American Oriental rug collectors,” said Winitz, who is also the author of The Guide to Purchasing an Oriental Rug. “Since the great-grandfather started collecting, two generations added to the cache, which was displayed at their six family residences.”

The other collections that Winitz compared with “The Bostonian” are the 400-rug “Hudson River Valley Collection” (2008) and the “Intercontinental Collection” (2010). Those events drew renewed attention to rugs from the Second Golden Age of Persian Weaving (ca 1800 to ca 1900).

Winitz founded Claremont Rug Company in 1980 and has since built an inventory comprised of more than 4000 rare Oriental carpets that are valued in the range of $20,000 to more than $500,000 per rug. To aid clients, the Gallery has more than 1000 19th century and turn-of-the-20th century rugs available for viewing and an extensive educational section on its website.

Antique Oriental Rug Spotlight: Bakhtiari, Part 1

The Bakhtiari tribespeople of the rugged Zagros Mountains are famed for their perilous annual migrations over snow-capped peaks and for their lustrous, deep-toned antique carpets displaying grand scale, cornucopian designs. An early 20th-century visitor to the lush Chahar Mahal district in Central Persia noted: “To me Bakhtiari antique carpets are among the most interesting of the tribal village weavings of Persia . . . for they have that quality which we call character: that is, individuality, sincerity, and strength.”

Although they traditionally produced only geometric designs, the Bakhtiaris—along with the Armenian, Kurdish and other weavers of the Chahar Mahal—were also influenced by the floral carpets of the Persian cities, especially those of nearby Isfahan. This gave birth to an innovative and distinctive stylization. This is found especially in their palace-size and oversize antique Oriental carpets that were woven on commission by the great Bakhtiari khans. These are among the most highly regarded of the Bakhtiari antique carpets.

Until the 1930’s Bakhtiari antique carpets were characteristically woven for use by the tribe or on commission within Persia. As they were rarely produced to be exported, they offer lanolin-rich, extremely durable wool and luminous colors, which were procured through a thorough knowledge of dyeing, using natural dyestuffs.

Antique Oriental Rug Spotlight: Caucasian Rugs, Part Two

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.

Perhaps as an expression of the deep joy of a people living and working close to the earth, the tribesperson wove rugs. And the carpets he created were magnificent! As a whole, the Caucasian antique carpet possesses an individuality, a boldness and deep sense of unity which is unsurpassed in the world of oriental rugs.

Antique Carpet

What is most striking about the Caucasian antique Oriental rug is its daring use of color. Balance of color is achieved here not by shading, but rather through contrast. The predominant reds, blues, greens and yellows would seem clashing to the mind, yet in actuality, the unerring confidence of the Caucasian craftsmen created color combinations so harmonious that they have been marveled at and studied by Western artists for centuries!

The Caucasus lies at the very heart of the rug-weaving world. Conquering armies, including those of Genghis Khan, Tamerlane and the Golden Horde, the Persians and Turks, stormed across these mountains for over a thousand years. They left behind the influence of every rug-making tradition from Egypt to China. The illiterate Caucasian tribesperson, working on a small, portable loom, has taken the form of more sophisticated weaving cultures. By transforming these designs into simple geometrical proportions, they have brought to them a new freshness and spontaneity.

The entire evolution of tribal weaving can be seen in Caucasian antique Oriental carpets. The dragon motif, boteh, flowerhead, arabesque, palmette, birds, animals, cloudband and crab designs are all present. Sometimes many of these are found in a single rug! In the midst of powerful geometrical diamonds there may be a tiny horse, dog or gazelle. Determination and intensity side-by-side with good humor and lightness demonstrate the dexterity of the Caucasian weaver.

Because of the physical lack of accessibility of the Caucasus to the outside world and the spiritedness of its peoples, natural dyestuffs were still used almost exclusively through 1920. This is over fifty years after the introduction of much easier-to-work-with, but infinitely less brilliant analine dyes. Similarly, it was not until World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution that Caucasian antique rugs were woven for export. The many fine examples from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are clearly original, authentic tribal works of art in every regard.

In short, the Caucasian nomad wove antique rugs for his own daily use, to satisfy his singular sense of creativity and harmony. Accordingly, he put a level of care into his work which seems virtually incomprehensible to us today. The wool he used provided a superior level of resilience and luster because it was shorn from the sheep which he himself had grazed in high mountain pastures. It was then cleaned and washed repeatedly so that it could thoroughly absorb the vibrant vegetable dyes.

The Caucasian weaver believed that only after the material of his craft was brought to its ultimate state could he be inspired to create a rug of ultimate balance and harmony. For he did not merely see his finished carpet as the work of art. Instead, the art lay in performing each step of the process to completion.

It is of little wonder that the weavings of the numerous Caucasian tribal groups enjoy a universal popularity among collectors of oriental rugs today. Both the thick-piled carpets from the most mountainous regions of Kazak, Karabagh and Gendje, and the thinner, more closely shorn Kubas, Shirvans, and Daghestans, from the lower slopes descending toward the Caspian Sea, are equally enchanting. These are the last remnants of an ancient weaving tradition which has now all but vanished. They are living examples which speak to us of both the gaiety and deep understanding of life possessed by their creators—the mountain weavers of the Caucasus.

Oriental Rugs Spotlight: Agra and Amritsar Rugs

Agra and Amritsar Antique Persian Rug - Claremont Rug Company

The historic Indian city of Agra, best known as the home of the Taj Mahal, has a long and illustrious tradition of carpet weaving. Although the weaving industry in Agra was limited, its workshops produced graceful carpets, recognized for their superb artistry and excellent workmanship. Antique and semi-antique Agra carpets, as opposed to modern “Indo” rugs, are highly sought after, ranking among the finest of decorative carpets.

An elite group of the very finest 19th-century Agra region carpets is attributed to the town of Amritsar. These are known for their extremely fine craftsmanship, extraordinarily lustrous wool, and highly artistic designs and color combinations. The most prized Amritsars show very clearly drawn and spaciously placed designs, often based on “Garden of Paradise” themes. Large Amritsars are quite rarely found and are highly sought after for their grandeur and decorative impact.

Weaving in Agra dates to the founding of the Mogul Empire in India in 1530. The Mogul emperors were deeply affected by Persian art and culture, especially Persian carpets, in what is called “The Golden Age of Persian Weaving”. Their art sought to replicate the beauty of the Persian court where the first Mogul Emperor had spent time in exile and to which the later Emperors remained connected. The resulting “Mogul” carpets were masterworks of creative endeavor which are the forebears of antique Agra carpets still available today.

In 1584, the Third Mogul emperor, Akbar the Great (1556-1606), established his capital at Agra, where his grandson, Shah Jahan, was to build the Taj Mahal. Surviving records from Akbar’s reign speak of royal patronage of weaving, with Persian craftsmen being invited to India to help establish the carpetmaking industry. These records speak glowingly of the high regard with which Agra or “Mogul” carpets were viewed.

Agra carpets combine the grandeur and grace of well-known Persian court designs with new motifs of their own creation. Overall designs of spiraling vinery are frequently combined with small animal forms, sometimes including birds, elephants or people. A very famous Agra design, developed for the Mogul emperors, consisted of rows of flowers in vases. This design was, in turn, adopted by the Persians and can be found in Persian floral carpets. The artistic “cross pollination” between Agra and Persia continued until the end of the nineteenth century.

The weavers of Agra were masters at vegetable dyeing and developed a unique palette of color. Soft mid-tone blues and a profusion of golds are often found in Agra carpets. They also use a range of soft rust-reds to pinks and a unique and appealing lavender tone.These colors give many Agra carpets a light, ethereal appearance which is stunning in the home.

The Agra pieces produced in the early 20th century are often of a commercial nature, and lack the quality and inspiration of their earlier counterparts. However, the finest 19th-century Agra carpets are universally respected by both collectors and interior designers, and are to be considered as individual and highly praised works of art, whose delicate palette of color and whimsical drawing is unique among antique decorative carpets. Undoubtedly, the cream of the 19th-century Agra carpets will continue to appreciate as superb art investments.