This item has been added to the Database within the Explore Islamic Art Collections project. Information is available in: English, German.

Name of Object:

Silk Mamluk carpet


Vienna, Austria

Holding Museum:

MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art

About MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art, Vienna

Date of Object:

c. 1500 / first quarter of the 16th century

Museum Inventory Number:

T 8332

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Silk warp; asymmetrical knot; wool weft; knotted


H: 547cm, W: 298cm; knot density 3,900/dm2

Period / Dynasty:



Egypt, Cairo


Extant documents verify that knotted-pile carpets were produced and traded in Cairo between the second quarter of the 14th century and the first quarter of the 17th century. Apparently, silk pieces were also found among them. Nonetheless, this is the only preserved Mamluk silk carpet worldwide and one of the MAK Collection’s most famous exhibits. As its impressive size, materials, and design quality suggest, the carpet is a product of an accomplished court workshop and likely dates from the late period of the last Mamluk dynasty. The quantity of the colours used speaks for an earlier dating around 1500; the delicate vegetal border with leaf tendrils and the characteristic umbrella leaves rather points to a later dating. In 1517, the Ottomans conquered the Mamluk Empire, but Cairo’s carpet workshops still produced pieces until the mid-16th century in a post-Mamluk style.

How date and origin were established:

Research and documentary evidence

How Object was obtained:

Obtained in 1922, formerly in the Imperial House of Habsburg

How provenance was established:

Research and documentary evidence

Selected bibliography:

Völker, Angela, Die orientalischen Knüpfteppiche das MAK, Vienna: Böhlau, 2001: 42–5.

Citation of this web page:

Barbara Karl, Angela Völker "Silk Mamluk carpet" in Explore Islamic Art Collections. Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;EPM;at;Mus21;45;en

Prepared by: Barbara Karl, Angela Völker
Copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: AT1 45


 Artistic Introduction

Islamic Dynasties / Period



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