Rugs have been woven throughout the Caucasus Mountains for centuries. The writings of ancient travelers to this region and centuries-old antique carpets testify to the historic roots of this tradition. Within this broader region are the provinces Qarachop and Borchali. These historic rug weaving centers have been inhabited by the Azerbaijani people for centuries, but their land now lies within the borders of the Republic of Georgia. Antique rugs from these regions are often highlighted at the world’s premier auction houses (with names like Bordjalou (Borçalı), Karachopt (Qaraçöp), Fachralo (Faxralı), and Lambalo (Ləmbəli)). These rugs are proudly displayed in museums and private collections around the world today.
These exquisite antiques were woven more than a century ago when a vibrant rug weaving existed in this region. Nearly every woman wove rugs. Mothers would spend countless hours weaving with their daughters at their side, teaching them just as they had been taught by their mothers. With her mother’s help, each bride wove a set of rugs for her dowry, a chance girls to showcase her skill. This tradition insured that the craft passed on from generation to generation.
Unfortunately, several forces of modernization have driven rug weaving to the verge of extinction. The introduction of cheap, machine-made carets provided women with an effortless option to cover their floors and walls. These rugs were gradually accepted into a bride’s dowry, eroding the foundation of their rug weaving tradition. Women lost interest in weaving. Little value was given to their craft so they turned their attention elsewhere.
As the numbers of weavers began to diminish, so too did the quality of the rugs. Lively intricate designs were replaced with simplified repetitive designs. Harmonious, naturals dyes gave way to stark, garish synthetic colors. Convenience displaced beauty. Long gone were the harmonious colors and creative designs of centuries past.
The present condition of weaving in this region is dire. Out of the more than 129 Azeri villages in Georgia, only 2 still have a handful of weavers. Amongst the potential 500,000 Azerbaijanis in Georgia, perhaps less than 20 women are actively weaving today. Several of our weavers have not woven for over 20 years, and would have never woven again if it were not for reWoven. Lost too are the secrets of dyeing wool through purely natural means as it was once done.
The current situation is grim, unquestionably leading toward the permanent extinction of weaving in this once vibrant rug producing region. If the current generation passes away without having passed on this tradition to the next, the root of their weaving history will be permanently lost.
reWoven endeavors to revive this craft by producing exquisite rugs while insuring maximum benefit for its artisans and their community. We aim to revive rug weaving’s lost beauty and inspire a new generation to continue its legacy.
reWoven accomplishes this goal by producing high quality rugs that embody the aesthetics and methods of centuries past. This includes hand spun wool yarn, natural dyes, hand weaving, and historic designs. Women from our weaving village hand spin their own undyed white and black wool into yarn, while naturally dyed color yarn is purchased from other regions. We also recovered antique designs from the finest collections in the world which house rugs from this region. We are bringing these designs back to their place of origin so they can be rewoven today.
Beyond their fine materials and cultural authenticity, a reWoven rug’s greatest value is the unmatched personal connection it creates between the patron and the weaver and her community. The typical rug purchasing experience gives the customer absolutely no information about the artist who wove the rug, and no guarantee of their fair compensation. Additionally, there is little assurance of where the rug was actually woven and with what materials. Each reWoven rug includes a certificate that guarantees the rug’s quality and authenticity, along with sharing personal information about the weaver and images of the rug coming to life on her loom. More than an exceptional decorative piece, reWoven rugs represent a direct link to the artisan and her rich weaving tradition.
reWoven is committed to insuring the maximum benefit for its weavers and their community. reWoven is a project of Millennium Relief and Development Services, and their local non-profit, Caucasus Hope Partnership. All of the proceeds of this project will remain within the local village. It is our aim to find a direct market for our rugs, creating higher wages for the weaver and a better value for the customer. We are confident that our weavers are the highest paid in the Caucasus region. As we are able to establish a market and ensure the financial viability of this project, we are eager to continue to raise the weavers’ wages. Increased wages is a critical step toward encouraging more women to learn the craft and, thus, ensuring the preservation of their weaving tradition.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about reWoven and for considering purchasing one of our unique rugs. Every rug purchased is a direct investment into a woman’s life and her craft. Each rug is deeply rooted in an ancient weaving tradition, and one small step toward insuring this tradition survives another generation.