Old Daghestan and Shirvan rugs are seldom to be found in the market now, but occasionally a fine specimen can be obtained as like that in the accompanying illustration. It has three medallions in the centre edged with the latch hook characteristic of the Daghestan rug. This design is a corruption of the old Chinese “fret” and shows how Mongolian influence and thought have traversed the high mountain ranges that divide these countries. The lattice work made up of triangles is also typical of this makee of rug, for it is employed more extensively in the Daghestan than any other. The origin of this design is easy to trace ; for the Mohammedans, accepting as they do the Old Testament, have in their art the signs and forms common to the Jews. The triangle, the Jewish symbol of divinity, is a favourite device. The Mohammedan rosary differs from all others in that it is divided by projecting beads into three parts with an equal number of beads between (usually thirty-three), thus making the rosary in the form of a triangle. One must not confuse the Mohammedan rosary with the string of beads which upon all occasions these people are passing through their fingers. These strings of beads are not divided into three parts and have no religious significance, but they servet he same purpose with Turkish gentlemen that twirling a lead pencil and playing with the watch chain does with men of Western nations.
The Shirvan and Daghestan rugs have many borders, one of which is pretty sure to be made up of the conventionalized swastika, that curious symbol of good luck common to all races from the North American Indians to the Mohammedans, Chinese, and Bhuddists. The Roman key is thought to be but a corruption of this symbol. That this rug was made by a Shiite Mohammedan is evident at a glance from the figures of men, birds, and animals scattered upon the field.
Shirvan rugs are made in quantities now, but they have degenerated from the fine old examples, although occasionally a good piece comes into the market such as the one shown in the illustration. The warp is a mixture of white and brown wool twisted. The ground is a most beautiful blue with no suggestion of green in the tint. The geometrical figures are laid upon this soft, intense blue in shades of lighter blue, tans, yellows, and reddish browns. The same colour scheme prevails in the borders except for the one white stripe containing the tarantula pattern, in which in each alternate figure a sage green replaces the light blue, producing a lovely effect. The upper octagon in the pattern forms a prayer niche.