Retaining The Ethnic, Cultural And Religious Diversity Of A Tribe
For more than eight centuries, the vast area known as the Caucasus Mountain Region has retained ethnic, cultural and religious diversity. Geographically located between the Black and Caspian Seas, this area has been in the path of expanding empires from every direction. Preservation of weaving techniques and traditional patterning became a matter of pride to the local people and demonstrated their faith and regional loyalties.
The completion of the Trans-Caucasian Railway at the end of the 19th century increased accessibility to this area for European merchants. Changing boundaries and political treaties associated with pre-World War I Europe further served to open this region to the rest of Europe for trade. This was a period of European, and more specifically French influence (?) tribal art. Initially, Russian diplomats, desiring less expensive, western-style carpets to implement their European furnishing, inspired a demand for more floral design and weaving.
Early in the 20th century, relentless European demand lead to the establishment of work-replacing village looms. The design, dyes, and weaving became permanently altered, compromising quality and individuality. Designs became rigid and repetitive. Vegetable dyes were traded for synthesis and commercial workshops were poor substitute for village looms. Later in the 1920’s and 30’s, in an effort to transform Russia into an industrial power, Stalin relocated many of these tribes people never returned to their homeland and those who remained were subjected to collective farming and sheep heeding. The wealth of folk art weaving and distinctive Caucasian designs was lost-never to be regained.