Name of Object:
Prayer rug with a row of niches
Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey
Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
Date of Object:
Hegira 9th century / AD 15th century
Museum Inventory Number:
Material(s) / Technique(s):
Wool on wool, woven with the Turkish double knot also known as the Gördes knot.
430 cm x 133 cm
Period / Dynasty:
Central Anatolia (possibly Konya), Turkey.
This is one of three 'row' carpets of an early date in the collection of the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts which have survived from the 9th / 15th century to the present day. The composition has been organised into mihrab niches which provide a distinct space for worshippers in the mosque to pray in well-defined rows. It has survived as a fragment; the original dimensions of the complete rug are not known. The ground is white (cream). Within the sections outlined by dark-blue borders are five mihrab niches, two of them green and three dark-blue. The influence of the monumental kufic borders of AH 7th- / AD 13th-century Konya rugs of the Anatolian Seljuq period can be seen in the design of the rug's mihrabs. Each of the mihrab niches are crowned with a stylised ram's-head motif, while their corners have corner-pieces with dark-blue chequer patterns and red 'stalactites' hanging off them. In each mihrab there are three mosque-lamp motifs, one in the centre and two at the sides, hanging downwards. Four of the mihrab niches have diamond-motifs in their lower section, ornamented with motifs like arrowheads pointing in four directions. In contrast, the central niche has a diamond-motif in its lower section which is plain, as if the element of symmetry is meant to show the centre of the prayer rug.
View Short Description
The earliest Ottoman prayer rugs with multiple niches are dated to the AH 9th / AD 15th century. They were produced for use in the mosque to help the congregation to pray in straight lines. The prayer rugs (seccade) of this period with their geometric compositions and kufic borders are a transition to classical Ottoman prayer rugs.
How date and origin were established:
Chemical analysis carried out on the original dyes used for this rug, together with analysis of the motifs and composition, point to a date of production in the 9th / 15th century.
How Object was obtained:
The rug was transferred from the Sheikh Baba Yusuf Mosque in 1911 as a result of a countrywide initiative to collect up artworks in order to prevent theft and plunder. The aforementioned mosque was built in 903 / 1498 in Sivrihisar, one of the first large sites settled by the Turcomans (Türkmen). Sheikh Baba Yusuf (d. 918 / 1512) was a religious scholar descended from Haci Bayram Veli (753–834 / 1352–1430), founder of the Bayramiyya branch of Sufism.
How provenance was established:
Rug-making is not widespread in the Eskişehir-Sivrihisar region. Moreover, in this period Konya was the most important centre for rug production, and since this example continues the Seljuq tradition, it is thought that it was woven in the Konya region.
Aslanapa, O., Türk Halı Sanatının Bin Yılı, Istanbul, 1987, p.163, Pl. 115.
Citation of this web page:
Gönül Tekeli "Prayer rug with a row of niches" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;tr;Mus01;17;en