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The Sion Lotto Rug, West Anatolia, late 16th or early 17th century, 1.08 X 1.36m (3'7" x 4'6"). Cathedral of St. Catherine, Sion, Switzerland

Numerous small rugs were woven in and around the Ushak region of Anatolia from the 15th century onwards. One of the commonest designs was the arabesque pattern, usually known in the rug literature as the 'Lotto' design, after the painter Lorenzo Lotto, one of several famous artists who depicted rugs of this type. Indeed, more than 80 examples have been identified in Western paintings from the early 16th to the late 17th centuries.

Many of these rugs were exported to Europe, particularly the Netherlands, by overland routes through Romania. Numerous examples also remained in Eastern Europe, where we have seen many similar rugs in Transylvanian churches. By the early 17th century this pattern must have been made in great numbers and varying qualities. The Sion rug is woven with a rather simple and schematic design. After completing tivo-thirds of the rug (weaving from the lower end upwards), the design shows thai the field pattern has become rather confused. It was quite normal to finish the side border design where the field ended, but the weaver even forgot the yellow line at the end of the field. If it were not for its typically beautiful wools and rich colouring, this rug must be considered of limited artistic merit.


Cathedral of St. Catherine, Sion, Switzerland