About the Antique Rugs of the Future Project

Sheep Breeds of Azerbaijan

Sorting, Washing, Carding, Spinning

"The advantages of handspun yarn to machine spun yarn"

Rediscovery of Ancient Natural Dyes
Our Natural Dyestuffs


Difference between synthetically and naturally dyed rugs

Weaving and Finishing Steps

Galleries of ARFP Caucasian Azerbaijani Rugs



 Keyhole Design Rug with Ghirlandaio medallion and Bellini type arches, West Anatolia, late 15th or early 16th century, 1.28 (or 1.38) x 2.27m (4'2" x 7' 5"). Cathedral of St. Catherine, Sion, Switzerland

On first impression this appears to be a 17th century Anatolian village rug. A closer examination reveals many features that point to a much earlier date and show it to be one of the best preserved of its type. It belongs to a group known as 'keyhole' or 're-entry' rugs which date to the late 15th century. The design has an extra border surrounding the field, which enters the field in an octagonal form at one or both ends. There are four compositonal variants of the design: two are directional, two can be viewed from either end.

The border is the same as the primary borders on certain rugs which contain rows of large octagons in the field, and are currently attributed to the 15th century. The inner band that forms the keyhole or re-entry octagon is composed of small 'E' motifs, first seen on a rug depicted in a mid-15th century painting. The central medallion first appears on a rug in a painting of the third quarter of the 15th century by Domenico Ghirlandaio, now in the Uffizi Museum in Florence. The corners surrounding the central medallion are filled with a comb-like design, also found in a rug depicted in 1495 by Carpaccio. The octagons, filled with, white spokes, are typical of rugs of the late 15th and early 16th century. The drawing of the rug is particularly fine.

Three other known rugs with oneway designs are related. One is in the Turk ve Islam Museum in Istanbul,9 a second i.s in the Topkapi Saray, with the lower end of the field almost identical,l0 and the third, with many of the same ornaments, in particular the medallion, surrounding comb-like motifs and the re-entry band design, appears in a painting by Dosso Dossi.''

It is, for the most part, in full pile, wilhjusl one small patch from a rug of the same period. The colours are soft, but particularly bright, and the rug appears to be unfaded. In handle, colours, wool and structure it appears to be closely related to several well known 15th century rugs, notably a fragment in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.l2 Whilst the museums in Istanbul have numerous 15th and early 16th century rugs, most are in. poor condition. The discovery of an unknoivn rug of this type, is an event of great rarity.

Literature: A Discovery at Sion, by Marino and Clara Dall'Oglio (featured in HALI Issue 27 in 1985)


Cathedral of St. Catherine, Sion, Switzerland