Uşak carpet (Bergama)
Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey
Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
Hegira 10th / AD 16th century
Wool on wool, woven with the Turkish double knot also known as the Gördes knot.
Length 292 cm, width 170 cm
Western Anatolia (Bergama – Uşak region), Turkey.
This is a carpet woven in the region of Western Anatolia in the AH 10th / AD 16th century. Both warp and weft are of wool. The weaving technique used is the 'Turkish double knot', known as the Gördes knot. The carpet is divided into five compartments: three pairs of octagons alternate with large rectangles on a dark-yellow ground and within a border of rosettes. Within the rectangles, which have red backgrounds, concentric octagons make up the primary motif. At the centre of each octagon is a six-armed star rosette. Around the inner octagon, resembling a floral rosette because of the hook and interlace motifs around the central star, the field is filled by a group of stars with stylised red and white leaves among them. The main octagon is completed by yellow and blue interlace motifs, while corner-pieces made up of hook motifs complete the large rectangle. Two narrow borders with chain and leaf motifs are in turn surrounded by the main border, which has groups of stylised kufic script on a dark-blue ground. The imitation kufic interlace motifs, which are white, yellow, green, and blue with red contours, are made to contrast with the contrary colours placed between them.
Turkish carpets, which had an important place in Ottoman trade, were exported in large numbers to European markets beginning in the AH 8th / AD 14th century. As an expensive export ware, these carpets met with great demand from noble families, church officials, and the wealthy middle classes who engaged in trade. These groups were also highly interested in painting, and they had the valuable carpets they owned painted into the portraits of themselves with which they adorned their churches and palaces.
These paintings, produced by many European artists beginning in the AD 15th century, have played an important role in establishing the dates and typology of carpets. Some carpets, known as 'Holbein' carpets, appear in paintings by the German artist Hans Holbein (AD 1497–1543), while some are known in carpet terminology as 'Holbein' carpets even though they do not appear in any paintings. The present work is judged to be part of the group known as 'Holbein IV'.
This woollen rug was woven with Turkish double knots (Gördes knots) in Bergama in the AH 10th / AD 16th century. These rugs with rectangular frames and geometric and stylised floral motifs came to be known as 'Holbein' carpets after the German painter Hans Holbein, who included them in his paintings.
The carpet is dated to the 10th / 16th century on the basis of the characteristics of the motifs and composition as well as paintings in which similar carpets appear.
The carpet was transferred to the Museum in 1911 from the Shaykh Baba Yusuf Mosque in Sivrihisar as part of the initiative begun in the 19th century to collect up artworks from all over the Empire.
It is well known that there was a thriving carpet-making industry in Bergama and Ushak in the 10th / 16th century. The presence of particular motifs and a style based on geometric division, both of which are still found on carpets produced in Bergama today, suggests that the carpet was woven in Bergama rather than Ushak.
Aslanapa, O., Türk Halı Sanatının Bin Yılı, Istanbul, 1987, p.94, pl. 127.
Erdmann, K., Seven Hundred Years of Oriental Rugs, London, 1970, p.105.
Erdmann, K., Der Türkische Teppich des 15. Jahrhundert, Istanbul, 1958, p.32.
ölçer, N., et al, Turkish Carpets from the 13th–18th Centuries, Istanbul, 1996, pl. 42.
Gönül Tekeli "Uşak carpet (Bergama)" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;tr;Mus01;39;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 68
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Ottomans | Exporting Luxury
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