For generations, women in Georgia’s eastern Kvemo Kartli region were known for their beautiful carpets, full of painstaking patterns that reflected the lives and traditions of the community. The carpets, known as Borchalou rugs due to the region’s former name, Borchali, were different from other rugs weaved in the Caucasus and Iran due to the weaving techniques and designs the women used.
Most Borchalou rugs are full of mythological, not religious, symbols. The tree of life, a popular carpet design, represents a custom of the local ethnic Azerbaijani community: when a boy is born in a family, the new parents would plant a poplar tree.
Traditionally, girls learned how to weave from their mothers and grandmothers—they prepared handmade carpets as part of their dowry. Women slowly forgot the artform as local culture changed during the Soviet era, however. Today most weavers are over the age of 50. Kosalari is the only village in Kvemo Kartli where traditional carpet weaving is still alive, in large part due to reWoven, an NGO created in 2007.
Elnur Alisoy, 31, is a PhD student in Caucasus studies and the CEO of reWoven. The NGO was originally created by an American family. After their tragic murder, Elnur and other volunteers decided to continue their work.
“Ethnic diversity enriches the country. Many of us don’t know what is happening in ethnically diverse regions. Through this project, I decided to show how this tradition was re-established and how it survives by being passed from generation to generation,” he said.