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rug no longer available Shahsavan mafrash end panel, slit tapestry, end of 19th c.

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Shahsavan mafrash end panel—click to see enlarged view

Design and attribution

This is an antique Shahsavan mafrash end panel from the Southern Caucasus or North-West Persia. A Mafrash is a large rectangular bag, used as a container for clothes or household item and also used as transport bag during the migrations of nomadic pastoralists. The pieces is similar to the Caucasian flatweave pattern repertoire. it is worked in a stepped slit tapestry technique , both sides are nearly equal.

The central diamond with horizontal pendants and large hooks on a hexagonal madder red medallion is beautifully balanced. it is framed by two large teal-green X-shapes which are contiued outward by rows of stripes.


The piece is done in stepped slit-tapestry technique with six broxaded lines in alternating colours. Warps are off-white wool, about 20 per inch. The coloured tapestry wefts are of course also wool. It is a very dense and sturdy textile, yet flexible. The small steps ensure that after about 4-7 weft shoots there will be an offset by 4 to 5 warps to maintain the structural integrity of the piece. THis technique requires diagonal (but stepped) pattenr shapes, or horizontal bands in one colour, as in the top and bottom borders. The pattern has emerged from the structural necessities of the weaving tewchnique (Marla Mallett has written interesting stuff about the provenance of patterns from structural traits, just google her).


The condition is rather good, especially given the age of the piece. No signs of fading, same intensity of dyes on front and back side. Th epiece seems to have been saved wear through use at an early point in time (even if you may regret that someone at some point took th edecisi onto separate the mafrash into its four side panels to sell these independently). Near the right edge there is a bit of darning in an olive-brown stripe. On the backside there is a small greenish stain on a yellow hook of the central medallion (not visible on the front) as well as a small yellowish wax stain at the end o done of the blue pendants (should be possible to scrape it off). The top and bottom ends should be secured with a few stitches.


All dyes are without doubt natural and beautifully saturated. Especially nice are the abrashed bottle green and the darker teal green. There are two shades of indigo, a saturated madder red, a clear light yellow, olive brown, and off-white.

More images

Shahsavan end panel - centre

Shahsavan end panel - border area

Shahsavan end panel - field detail

Shahsavan end panel -  back side

Last update: 05 April 2007 | Impressum—Imprint