Unlike homes in the north, Georgians prefer tiles and laminate flooring over wall-to-wall carpet. Underfloor heating is new, and until that came along Georgians, like the rest of the world, relied on carpets (rugs) to keep their feet warm while wandering around their dwellings. Carpets were also often hung on the walls as both a decorative piece and as insulation from the cold, some of them having been passed down from generation to generation. Add to that the fact that carpets were an indispensable part of a dowry for Caucasian girls in the past (according to local custom, a girl could not marry if she was unable to knit carpets or did not have rugs in her dowry), and you’ll understand the importance of carpets and why they might cost so much to buy!
The history of carpet weaving in the Caucasus region dates back to the Middle Ages, and fragments of knotted pile carpet from the 13th and 14th centuries have been found in cave complexes in Georgia.
Carpets from the Caucasus region have geometric designs and bold colors, typically deep red, brown, blue, and yellow. The older the carpet, the more likely it is to have been made using natural materials found in the region: older Caucasian carpets are pure wool.
Over the centuries, traders from Istanbul to Athens traveled to Tbilisi, Georgia, to trade in hand-woven carpets at bazaars known as the Caravanserai. As well as trading, Georgia made quality bags, carpets and rugs. In particular, Tusheti, Kakheti, Alwan and Akhaltsikhe were famous for their precious, high-quality products, skilled weavers, and the quality of local sheep and their wool.
The Caravanserai were shut down in Soviet times, but there are still plenty of small local shops in the Old Town where you can snap up a genuine antique (or more modern) carpet for your home. You can also wander the Dry Bridge market and see what they have on offer. Another option- if you have the time, is to get one made to order. ReWoven (see below) is a great organization to contact if you fancy a personalized carpet. A modern, medium-sized handmade rug, in wool, is likely to cost over $1000 and takes several months to make. A real antique rug – depending on its age, design and quality – can fetch thousands of dollars.
WHERE TO BUY A CARPET
Gorgeous rugs have been woven for centuries by the Azerbaijani people living in the Republic of Georgia. Once a world-renowned rug weaving region, this tradition has all but vanished. reWoven endeavors to save this craft from complete extinction by creating high quality rugs that embody the aesthetics and methods of centuries past, while maximizing their benefit for its weavers and their community today. Each rug is a unique blend of personal expression and cultural richness, and one small step toward insuring this tradition survives another generation. Check them out and support the cause on rewoven.net
CAUCASIAN & ORIENTAL CARPETS GALLERY
Opened in 1990 in a 300-year-old Caravanserai building, Caucasian and Oriental Carpets Gallery has a variety of tablecloths and rugs made from numerous different materials. Their collection includes old and new Georgian, Dagestani, Armenian, Azeri, Iranian, Turkish and Central Asian rugs and carpets. The location is also something special- one room of the gallery was once used for camel stabling while the second was a tavern shop, where traders sat on mats and bought and sold carpets. Grab the mood of this shop, still a place for people of different nationalities to meet and deal in carpets.
8/10 Erekle Str.
(+995) 577 405 311
A company dedicated to handmade carpets with one branch in Tbilisi and several shops in Iran. They make and sell natural silk and wool carpets mainly made in Iran. You can order any kind of carpet and they will ship it anywhere to you at a very reasonable price. They also have their own website to help you choose!
109 Aghmashenebeli Ave., Tbilisi