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"Dragon and Phoenix" rug, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum Berlin, Germany (Museum für Islamische Kunst) / Georg Niedermeier Meier Meiser (inv. no: 1.4). 90 x 172 cm. mid to second half 15th century


The famous "Dragon Phoenix carpet" symbolizes the immortality of the divine and the triumph of life everlasting. The phoenix, flying above the "S" shaped 'divine' dragon, bears symbol for potent and auspicious powers. early 15th century. Ottoman / Karakoyunlu / Ak koyunlu Period (The Kara Koyunlu, also called the Black Sheep Turkomans, were a Oghuz Turkic tribal federation that ruled over the territory comprising the present-day Azerbaijan, Armenia, part of Georgia, north western Iran (Azerbaijan province), eastern Turkey and Iraq from about 1375 to 1468.)

Berühmter Teppich mit abstrahierter Drachen-Phönix Darstellung, Türkei, Mitte 15. Jh.



Artist: Bartolomeo degli Erri (Modena, act. 1460-79)
Scenes from Life of St. Vincent Ferrer,ca. circa 1460,
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum

Holding Museum: Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum Berlin, Germany
Original Owner: Museum of Arts and Crafts, Berlin
Museum Inventory Number: I. 4
Dimensions: Length 172 cm, width 90 cm
Material(s) / Technique(s): Wool, knotted.
Date of the object: Hegira mid-9th / mid-15th century
Period / Dynasty: Ottoman
Provenance: Turkey .

Description: This fragmented carpet is one of the most important animal-carpets of the early Ottoman period that have become known to the present day. Two highly stylised animals, a dragon and a phoenix, are depicted fighting, against a yellow background and within two octagonal spaces. The phoenix is swooping down onto the dragon from above. The image is clearer in the lower octagonal casing than in the upper. The outer border is composed of semi-palmette tendrils, which are framed on both sides by an edging of little rosettes. The original border appears to be missing on both the left and right sides. It is possible that the carpet was originally wider in shape, featuring a greater number of octagonal compartments. This would make it more akin to the animal-carpets that were reproduced in paintings. The dragon and phoenix motif, which originated in China – where yellow was considered to be the colour of the sovereign – was introduced into Islamic art in the AH 7th / AD 13th century with the arrival of the Mongols, as is demonstrated by its ubiquitous presence on a number of works of art, made in a variety of materials.

Animal-carpets often appear in the paintings of Italian artists, but only a few of the actual pieces survived. The painter Domenico di Bartolo depicted a similar dragon-phoenix carpet in his fresco ‘The Wedding of the Foundlings’, which he painted in the Spedale della Scala in Siena in 1440–4. An animal-carpet featuring stylised birds on trees was found in a church in Sweden. The wide distribution of animal-carpets in Europe demonstrates that they were among the early types of carpets to be exported to Europe from the Ottoman Empire. This carpet allegedly comes from a church in central Italy and, from the results of Carbon-14 analysis, is dated to be from the AH mid-9th / AD mid-15th century.

How object was obtained: Acquired in Rome by Wilhelm von Bode in 1886 and bought by the Museum of Arts and Crafts, Berlin. Given on loan to the Museum of Islamic Art in 1906, after which it was included in the Museum’s inventory.

How date and origin were established:
Carbon-14 analysis has dated the carpet to the mid-9th / mid-15th century.

How provenance was established:
The carpet’s Turkish knot and its unique motifs and colours place it within the Ottoman era.

Selected bibliography: Bode, W. v., Vorderasiatische Knüpfteppiche aus älterer Zeit, Leipzig, 1901, p.109.
Enderlein, V., Wilhelm von Bode und die Berliner Teppichsammlung, Berlin, 1995, p.23, no. 9, p.29, pl. 9.
Erdmann, K., Die Geschichte des Frühen Türkischen Teppichs, London, 1977, pp.56–7, ill. 52.
Rageth, J., “Dating the Dragon & Phoenix Fragments”, Halı 134, 2004, pp.106–109.
The Eastern Carpet in the Western World from the 15th to the 17th century, London, 1983, p.49, cat. no. 1, p.34, fig. 1.

Source: [http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;de;Mus01;34;en&cp]