Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum
Hegira second half of 9th century / AD second half of 15th century
Length 410 cm, width 195 cm
Kingdom of Castile
Spain, probably Letur.
This large fragmented carpet belongs to a group of Spanish carpets from the AH 9th / AD 15th century that feature the coats of arms of the Enriquez family. The motifs used in the carpet, as well as its colours and entire appearance, indicate that it belongs to this group. They were probably made in the Spanish town of Letur in the second half of the AH 9th / AD 15th century. The Spanish knots in the weave are a typical characteristic of Spanish carpets, including this one.
It was thought that carpets of this kind, known as Mudéjar carpets, were made by Oriental craftsmen for Spanish patrons. However, no further direct link can be made, as these Spanish carpets show big changes to the structural principles of carpet patterns in Islamic countries.
The pattern within the central area is composed of consecutive rows of a single motif: a six-pointed star within a blue hexagon, repeated continuously. Birds and rosettes alternately occupy the diamond-shaped spaces in between. Four borders of different widths frame the central area. Starting from the inner border and moving outwards, the borders are composed of zigzags, interlinked plaited stars, rows of blossoms and, finally, an outer border of motifs recalling kufic script on a blue background. Long letters, embellished with hooks, alternate with pointed triangles. Animal motifs in a heraldic style (peacocks, ducks, lions. etc.) and geometrical motifs, such as diamonds decorated with hooks, fill the spaces in between.
In Islamic countries, coats of arms knotted into carpets indicate that the carpet was commissioned. The coat of arms belonging to a bishop can be seen in an Ottoman carpet that was preserved in Sweden; other Ottoman carpets show the coats of arms of Genoese families. They are an important testimony to the widespread extent of Mediterranean trade.
This carpet was once over five metres long. Its inner field has a small star pattern. The outer border, reminiscent of kufic inscriptions, is filled with animal motifs including lions and ducks, and is therefore a considerable contrast to Mamluk or Ottoman carpets.
Wilhelm von Bode
A group of carpets, to which this one belongs, has been classified according to the coats of arms of Spanish families, and can be dated to the mid and second half of the 9th / 15th century.
Transferred as a long-term loan through the Museum of Arts and Crafts, Berlin.
The literature mentions the Spanish town of Letur, in the province of Murcia, as a possible place of manufacture of this group of carpets. The Spanish knot supports the hypothesis.
Erdmann, K., 700 Jahre Orientteppich, Herford, 1966, p.103, ill. 126.
Ferrandis Torres, J., Catalogo de la Exposición de Alfombras Antiguas Espanolas, Madrid, 1933.
Kühnel, E. and Bellinger, L., Catalogue of Spanish Rugs: 12th Century to 19th Century, Washington, D.C.: The Textile Museum, 1953.
Spuhler, F., Die Orientteppiche im Museum für Islamische Kunst Berlin, Berlin, 1987, pp.118–20, no.137.
Jens Kröger "Spanish carpet" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;de;Mus01;47;en
Prepared by: Jens KrögerJens Kröger
Jens Kröger is a historian of Islamic art and archaeology. He studied European art history and Ancient Near Eastern archaeology at the Free University of Berlin and obtained his Ph.D. in 1978 on Sasanian and early Islamic stucco (Sasanidischer Stuckdekor, Mainz: von Zabern, 1982). As a curator at the Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum, Berlin, he has participated in numerous exhibitions and published on the subject of pre-Islamic and Islamic art, including Nishapur: Glass of the Early Islamic Period (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1995), and edited Islamische Kunst in Berliner Sammlungen (Berlin, 2004).
Translation by: Maria Vlotides, Brigitte Finkbeiner
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen
MWNF Working Number: GE 58