At the risk
of being provocative I have some questions about
the origins of Touserkan rugs. Who are these
people where do they come from? They appear in
the Hamadan region in the 19th century. There is
no evidence that they were there earlier. Maybe
they were or maybe they moved from somewhere
else. I propose that these people may actually be
a sub-group of the Lesghian called the Tsakhur of
the Derbent/Dagestan region.
I am sure some of you are thinking that is
preposterous but let me explain. Peter the Great
moved the Don Cossack to the Terek river in the
1720s. In 1735 the Russians made their
administrative headquarters at Qidhlar south of
the Terek River. In this period other Cossack
units were moved south and they applied pressure
on the Moslems of Chechnya, Dagestan, and
Czarist Russian took Derbent in 1796 and it
was formally ceded to the Czar in 1813. This was
war, brutal war that uprooted families and entire
villages. The Russians used brutality as a weapon
to subjugate the region. Add to this that It was
a Muslim region and the Russians were Christian.
Initially the Russians moved Cossacks south to
prey on the villages of the Khanate of Derbend.
So it is historically accepted as fact that
many Moslems moved south into Persia. But to
where? Not all of the refugees could move to the
Mount Sabalan region many must have moved further
south. Additionally the Moslem population was not
a unified block. Based on the research of Dr.
Moshe Gammer we know that in 1830 there was a
significant population of Tsakhur in the area of
Dagestan in-between Kurakh and Zaqatala, In
between 1830 and 1865 this area was in the midst
of Shamil's uprising. After that period the
Tsakhur were a widely dispersed minority in
Dagestan. Suffice it to say they moved south.
They are still a prescence in Azerbaijan today.
The rugs of Touserkan and the rugs of the
Tabassaran a group closely akin to the Tsakhur
hold stylistic affinities. Touserkan rugs are
single wefted. I remember one morning at one of
his Textile Museum lectures Harold Keshishian
showing me a Dagestan rug that was also single
wefted. We know that many Moslems of the Caucasus
moved south into Iran. Their descendents are
somewhere in Iran today. Hamadan is more likely
than most. .