The Richard E. Wright Research Reports; a Compilation of Notes Concerning the Nature and Origins of Textiles
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The Village of Marazy

August 2015

Another schoolmaster report ca. 1880’s deals with a village in Shemakha Uyzed.  The likely correct spelling of the name is Maraza; the word, Marazali, common in rug writing, is a surname for an individual who comes from that town.

The report is of rug interest primarily for what is not in it.

“The inhabitants of the village of Marazy, according to the latest census of 1886 numbered 1612 persons of both sexes: 812 men and 800 women. The population consists of migrants from Saratov and Poltava Gubernias [provinces]. Their main occupation is the growing of grain. In this connection, the villagers are concerned with improving their agricultural implements and other equipment, and this, in turn, has to some extent given direction to the development of trades.

The Weaving Industry. 1

“Weaving is done only for one’s own family’s needs, in one’s own home.  This activity is performed exclusively by women and girls.  Girls begin to spin yarn for wool cloth beginning at age 11—12 and begin to weave at 15.  Spinning is done by samopryakha [spinning wheel?] instead of with a spindle, onto a wooden bobbin which is turned by a cord running from a large wheel to the bobbin, which, in turn, are [sic] made to rotate by a spinning hook activated by pressure on a treadle.  Weaving is done on small looms set up in the peasant’s home; the loom has a roller onto which the warp is wound; such looms are called navivnoi stanok (winding looms); but there are simpler arrangements, in which the warp is “twisted into a braid” and unbraided as needed.

“The only thread-bearing plant sown here is flax, which gives fibers of poor quality and seeds rich in oil. The local flax does not attain more than 12 vershki (ca. 21 inches) and with its coarse fibers is used only to produce sack canvas. To make fine canvas, for linens, flax is bought in Lenkoran Uyezd, which is of high quality, has fine fibers up to 1.5 arshins long (ca. 42 inches), is used to weave a rather fine linen for towels and tablecloths used in dowries. The Lenkoran flax, which is flayed clean [vytrepanny] but not combed, is sold here for 3-5 rubles per pud [ca. 36 pounds]. As a result of the shortage of local flax and the expense of flax from elsewhere, almost no pure linen canvas is woven; more often it is mixed half and half with cotton: the warp is linen and the woof cotton. For men’s shirts a material called checked sarpinka [fine checked or striped cotton] is woven. The warp of this fabric is red twisted sasrpinka and blue linen yarn, while the woof is red untwisted cotton and blue linen yarn. All of the canvas is used for domestic needs, and only canvas left over made from local flax is traded locally for chintz.

“The seeds from local flax are pressed for oil on local presses, of which there are two. These oil-presses used to be of the simplest construction: the seeds would be ground in wooden mortars by “grinders” activated by a horse-powered belt drive.  “Then, the flax flour thus produced would be fried in iron kettles and fed into a press: the press worked six wedges driven by a large wooden mallet mounted horizontally on a vertical axis.  In 1885, however, one of the owners of the oil press replaced the grinding mechanism with two iron rollers mounted horizontally. Owing to this rolling mechanism, which was activated by the same horse-powered belt drive, the productivity of the oil press increased three-fold, although the oil was still extracted using wedges. At the end of 1886 the grinding mechanism at the other oil press was also replaced with rollers. The oil is sold to merchants in the uyezd capital at 5-6 rubles per pud.

Stepan Shulkov, teacher at the Alty-agachil 1-year Rural School.

Well, this is quite a bit more than anyone nowadays would want to know, but the description furnishes a clear picture of what is essentially a primitive agricultural economy when technology is just entering it. And carpet-making does not amount to much.

[1] Sbornik materialov dlya opisaniya mestnostei i plemen Kavkaz, Vol. 1, 1891.

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