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Sheep Breeds of Azerbaijan

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"The advantages of handspun yarn to machine spun yarn"

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Western Anatolia, Bergama area

Cushion Cover (yastik), 19th century

Many knotted-pile cushion covers made in Turkish villages derive their patterns from Ottoman velvets and brocaded silks (see cat. nos. 4 and 5), but the geometric design of this yastik predates the Ottoman court style. The stepped, hooked medallions inside octagons are sometimes called "Memling guls," after the 15th-century Flemish painter who depicted rugs with a simpler form of them in a similar arrangement.1 This design, not limited to Turkey, also appears on 19th-century Caucasian, Kurdish, and Turkmen rugs. The gul forms are also used in isolation as border or field elements on Caucasian rugs (see cat. nos. 19 and 20). The weaver of this yasttk began with flattened octagons, but in order to lengthen her pillow cover she made subsequent rows progressively less compact and taller.2 The back panel of the yastik was red weft-faced plain weave. Some of this still remains, although the rest probably suffered the same fate as the backs of many saddle- and storage bags, which were removed when they were shipped to the West.

1. See, for example, the Donne Triptych (Virgin and Child with Saints and Donors), ca. 1470, in the National Gallery, London, and a beautiful still life on the back of Portrait of a Young Man, in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Lugano. The still life is reproduced as the back cover and pl. 25a of Alien Rosenbaum, Old Master Paintings from the Collection of Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza, Washington, International Exhibitions Foundation, 1979-1981.

2. A very similar example, with the same distinctive reciprocal-design end panels and more uniform octagons, appears as pl. 22, p. 120, of Walter B. Denny and Daniel S. Walker, The Markarian Album, Cincinnati, The Markarian Foundation, 1988.

Structural Analysis
SIZE: 36 1/2X24 1/4 in. (92.7 x 61.4 cm.)
WARP: wool, Z2S; ivory
WEFT: wool, z x 2-3; ivory
PILE: wool, Z2S, symmetrical knots, h. 9, v. 9-13; 81-117 k/sq. in.; ivory, brown (abrash), red, light orange-red, light yellow, green-blue, blue, light purple
ENDS: red wool weft-faced plain weave
SIDES: red wool selvedge of 4 cords of 2 warps each