Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey
Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
Hegira 10th century / AD 16th century
Wool on wool, woven with the Turkish double knot also known as the Gördes knot.
Length 789 cm, width 360 cm
An Ushak carpet of the AH 10th / AD 16th century; the warp and the weft of which are of wool. The weaving technique used is the 'Turkish double knot', known as the Gördes knot. The rug is in two pieces.
On a red ground, arranged on a zigzag axes, are motifs known as chintamani or pelenk (leopard-spots or tiger-stripes motif). Black and dark-blue chintamani motifs with blue contours are arranged together with yellow tiger stripes with black contours, according to the principle of infinity. These motifs have Buddhist roots and show Far Eastern influence; they appear on the clothing of figures in the caves at Turfan in the Xinjiang province of China, probably painted in the AH 1st–3rd- / AD 7th–9th -century.
The chintamani or pelenk motifs were used as symbols of power and authority, entering Ottoman palace art with the capture of Tabriz, following the victory won at Chaldiran in AH 920 / AD 1514 by Sultan Selim I (r. AH 918–27 / AD 1512–20). From the AH 10th–12th / AD 16th–18th century the motifs are seen in all the decorative arts made by artists directed by the Ottoman court, seen especially in textiles, ceramics, book-bindings and woodwork; they were most popular under Sultan Selim II (r. AH 974–82 / AD 1566–74).
The perimeter of this carpet has two narrow borders and one broad border. The first narrow border consists of a dark-blue ground between an orange-red strip, with blue and red dots and a red line. It is filled with tulip and carnation motifs between interweaving red stems. The main border is decorated with enormous lotuses, rose-petals, and stylised flower and leaf motifs in light- and dark-red with brown contours. The outermost border is filled with dark-blue, blue, and cream-coloured tulip and carnation motifs amid interweaving stems on a red background.
This rug was woven at Uşak for the Sultan Selim Mosque in Konya. Chintamani motifs (leopard spots), symbols of power and the sultanate of Far East origin, and hatayi (peonies), tulips and carnations were also used in tiles, textiles and woodwork between the AH 10th and 12th / AD 16th and 18th centuries.
It is thought to have been either ordered, made specially, or donated as a pious gift to the Sultan Selim Mosque in Konya, which was begun when Sultan Selim II was governor of Konya (i.e. before he had ascended the throne) but completed in the same year he became sultan, AH 973 / AD 1566. During the Ottoman period it was traditional for the sultan to have made as furniture for the mosques he was commissioning carpets, Qur'an stands and other fine artefacts, The carpet's decorative motifs, together with the date of construction of the mosque it came from, lead us to date it in the 10th / 16th century.
The rug was transferred from the Sultan Selim Mosque in Konya to the Museum in 1911 as a result of the countrywide initiative to collect together artworks in order to prevent theft and plunder.
In the 10th / 16th century the most important centre for carpet production was Uşak and its vicinity. The composition and motifs on this carpet's main border, in particular, pertain to the region of Uşak and suggest that the carpet was woven there.
ölçer, N., et al, Turkish Carpets from the 13th–18th Centuries, Istanbul 1996, Pl. 81.
Roxburgh, D. J. (ed), Turks: A Journey of a Thousand Years, 600–1600, London, 2005, p.463.
Gönül Tekeli "Rug" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;tr;Mus01;27;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 GomezMandi Gomez
Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.
True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.
MWNF Working Number: TR 51
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Ottomans | The Palace and the Arts
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