ORNAMENTAL LANGUAGE IN CAUCASIAN EMBROIDERY
The Caucasus has been occupied by various people throughout its history. Victorious and defeated armies, communities, civilizations and tribal groups in search of new lands have created a unique place where a large number of languages, religions and cultures have interacted over time, creating a rich mosaic of peoples and nations. This territory is made up of steep, nearly impassable mountain ranges and deep valleys between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea where more than fifty different nations, for which embroidery and weaving constitute a common language, inhabit a region stretching from Daghestan in the north to Karabagh in the south.
Kaitag and Caucasian embroideries represent, as an art form, a repository of motifs and symbols that appear to reach back to a distant past. They are the artistic expression of a socio/religious "language" of the Caucasus region.
Caucasian embroideries, often displaying very fine work with very complex stitching, seem to have originated some three hundred and fifty years ago, reaching the peak of their artistic expression in the 18th century. The art of Caucasian embroidery found its fullest expression in two specific regions of the Caucasus, Kaitag in Daghestan and the Karabagh region further south.
Kaitag embroideries were used at the three major transitional times in a person's life-- birth, marriage and death-- and were clearly seen as possessing a supernatural, protective force, displaying specific symbols to this effect. Kaitag embroideries were used as a cover for the cradle to protect the baby from an ill-intentioned, envious glance (warding off the "evil eye"). They also formed part of a girl's dowery and were used to cover the faces of the newly deceased. Kaitag embroideries reflect the emotions and beliefs of the women who made them and were stitched with great love and attention. What is truly remarkable is how they still resonate with us as we look at them with eyes formed by our experience of modern art.
People of the Karabagh region made embroideries for similar rituals. Though stylistically very different from Kaitag embroideries, they share the use of ancient symbols--dragons, solar symbols, flowering vegetal forms--and both display creatively rendered motifs derived from Ottoman and Persian art. In embroidery, women were able to harmonize their own traditions and beliefs with ancient ones and, in so doing, created powerful pieces of textile art. Known as "Caucasian embroidery" or "Armenian embroidery" these rare, precious and beautiful textiles are now housed in some of the world's major museums and private collections. They may be seen occasionally at auctions fetching dazzling prices.
Since 2004, we have been successfully working to save this art form from extinction. Our unique embroideries are made in the traditional manner and techniques using naturally-dyed, silk threads. They are often more refined and detailed than the originals. Besides, we also produce ‘Ottoman Embroidery’ as the third group with the same technique. Each of our embroideries is a singular work of art. Stitching one square meter of embroidery takes almost one year. The resulting color harmony, silky touch and patina has meant that our embroideries have found favor with private collectors as well as having museum specialists pronounce them equal in quality to the originals.