Name of Object:
Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum
Date of Object:
Around hegira 900 / AD 1500
Museum Inventory Number:
Material(s) / Technique(s):
Knotted wool, dye in various shades and colours.
Length 162 cm, width 120 cm
Period / Dynasty:
This carpet demonstrates through its design that it belongs to the group of prayer rugs. The inner area is adorned with a red-coloured arch-shaped mihrab (prayer niche). Placed in front of the niche is a basin, seen from above, from which emerges a small tree with green leaves, rendered in a semi-abstract design with fine lines. A small yellow jug with a handle and short spout has been incorporated into the centre of the tree. This jug may relate to Sura 5 verse 8 of the Qur’an, which mentions obligation of ablutions to be undertaken before prayer. Green-coloured, eight-pointed plaited stars can be seen in the corners of the mihrab arch. Above the mihrab is a rectangular space filled with palms and cypresses. Two borders frame the inner area. The thinner border is filled by a decorative cloud-motif band. This cloud-motif band is a common feature of Ottoman art since the AH 9th and 10th / AD 15th and 16th century, and it originated in China. On this rug, the yellow cloud-motif bands are displayed over a red background, and are positioned very close to one another. The rug’s wider border consists of a continuous tendril-like interlacing band involving plant motifs, over a light-green background.
View Short Description
This is the only prayer rug to have survived from the Mamluk period. It was probably made in Cairo around 1500. Its design shows a mixture of Mamluk and Ottoman features. Carpet manufacture flourished in Egypt under the Mamluk sultans and rugs were also exported to Europe.
How date and origin were established:
The carpet exhibits both Mamluk and Ottoman elements in its style, and thus could be from around 900 / 1500 as manufacturers in Cairo were just in the process of adopting Ottoman elements into their repertoire. However, as all that remains is this single Mamluk prayer carpet, it is difficult to give an exact date.
How Object was obtained:
Purchased in 1888 by Wilhelm von Bode for the Museum of Arts and Crafts, Berlin. Transferred from the Museum of Arts and Crafts on a long-term loan.
How provenance was established:
The whole host of its unique motifs, colours and characteristic asymmetric or Persian knots all collude to suggest that this carpet was made in Cairo in a Mamluk carpet workshop.
Enderlein, V., Wilhelm von Bode und die Berliner Teppichsammlung, Berlin, 1995, p.25, plate 16.
Citation of this web page:
Annette Hagedorn "Prayer rug" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;de;Mus01;28;en
Prepared by: Annette Hagedorn