Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey
Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
Hegira 7th century / AD 13th century
Wool on wool, woven with the Turkish double knot also known as the Gördes knot.
Length 519 cm, width 294 cm
This is an outstanding example of a 'Konya rug', considered one of the earliest Turkish rug groups in Anatolia. Both warp and weft are wool. The weaving technique used is the 'Turkish double knot', known as the Gördes knot. The colours are red, dark-blue, blue, and beige. The main field of the rug has a geometric pattern with hooked red motifs on a light-red background. Triangles, octagons, hands-on-hip, and hook motifs form a repetitive geometric composition characteristic of Seljuq rugs. The decorative composition is dominated by the principle of 'infinity', as is typical with Turkish rugs. The design is repeated continuously. Between the repeating motifs are blue dots, which provide a strong contrast to the red background.
The field of the rug is surrounded by a narrow border of eight-pointed, dark-blue star motifs separated from each other by yellow-beige lines. The most striking feature of the rug is the wide border decorated with pseudo-kufic script. Bold, stylised, kufic letters in light-blue follow one another on a dark-blue background. The letters are divided by red bands outlined in beige. Such monumental kufic-script borders are characteristic of Seljuq rugs.
The decorative composition of the rug is completed by a narrow outer border decorated with red eight-pointed star motifs on a blue background. The rug is quite worn; much of the pile is gone. Areas of the outer border are missing, and there is a large tear in the middle.
Seljuq rugs commonly were woven in large dimensions and decorated with plain geometric compositions consisting of a small number of colours in various shades contrasting with a wide kufic border.
Found in the Alaaddin ('Ala' al-Din) Mosque in Konya, this is one of eight Seljuq rugs brought to the Museum and registered in the inventory on 30 Rabi' al-Awwal 1329 / 31 March 1911.
This is the oldest known example of a 'Konya rug'. The rugs of this period are characterised by contrasting light and dark shades, repetetive geometric motifs in the ground representing the principle of infinity and a wide border with stylised kufic script, and were woven in Turkish (Gördes) double-knot technique.
The Seljuq sultans had many mosques built and it is known that they endowed Qur'ans, candlesticks, Qur'an-stands and rugs to furnish them. This rug is believed to have been woven specially for the Alaaddin Mosque by order of the Seljuq Sultan Alaaddin (Ala' al-Din) Keykubad I (r. 616–35 / 1220–37), who had the mosque enlarged in 618 / 1221. Stylistic analysis also dates the rug to the 7th / 13th century.
Eight rugs were spotted by the scholar, Marin in the Alaaddin ('Ala' al-Din) Mosque in Konya in 1322 / 1905 and the information was brought to the attention of Loydved, the German Consulate. The rugs were first published in 1325 / 1908 and were registered in the Museum in 1329 / 1911.
Most high-quality rugs produced under the Anatolian Seljuqs come from Konya; the colours used in this rug are predominant in Konya rugs.
Erdmann, K., Seven Hundred Years of Oriental Rugs, London, 1970, p.42.
Erdmann, K., Der Türkische Teppich des 15.Jahrhundert, Istanbul, 1958.
ölçer, N., et al, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, Istanbul, 2002, p.145.
ölçer, N., et al., Turkish Carpets from the 13th–18th Centuries, Istanbul 1996, pp.4–5.
önder, M., ”Selçuklu Devri Konya Halıları (Konya Rugs of the Seljuq Period)” Türk Etnoğrafya Dergisi 7–8 (1964–5), pp.46–50.
Roxburgh, D. J. (ed), Turks: A Journey of a Thousand Years, 600–1600, London, 2005, p.402.
Gönül Tekeli "Rug" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;tr;Mus01;11;en
Prepared by: Gönül Tekeli
Translation by: Barry WoodBarry Wood
Barry Wood is Curator (Islamic Gallery Project) in the Asian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He studied history of art at Johns Hopkins University and history of Islamic art and architecture at Harvard University, from where he obtained his Ph.D. in 2002. He has taught at Harvard, Eastern Mediterranean University, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has also worked at the Harvard University Art Museums and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. He has published on topics ranging from Persian manuscripts to the history of exhibitions., İnci Türkoğluİnci Türkoğlu
İnci Türkoğlu has been working as a tourist guide and freelance consultant in tourism and publishing since 1993. She was born in Alaşehir, Turkey, in 1967. She graduated from the English Department of Bornova Anatolian High School in 1985 and lived in the USA for a year as an exchange student. She graduated from the Department of Electronic Engineering of the Faculty of Architecture and Engineering, Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, and the professional tourist guide courses of the Ministry of Tourism in 1991. She worked as an engineer for a while. She graduated from the Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir, in 1997 with an undergraduate thesis entitled “Byzantine House Architecture in Western Anatolia”. She completed her Master's at the Byzantine Art branch of the same department in 2001 with a thesis entitled “Synagogue Architecture in Turkey from Antiquity to the Present”. She has published on art history and tourism.
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: TR 20
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Ottomans | Turkish-Islamic Art in Pre-Ottoman Anatolia Arabic Calligraphy | Civilisation of the Word Geometric Decoration | Geometric Decoration in Textiles
DownloadAs PDF (including images) As Word (text only)