Antique Rugs of the Future Project

About the Antique Rugs of the Future Project
Sheep Breeds of Azerbaijan
Shearing, Sorting, Washing, Carding, Spinning
The advantages of handspun yarn to machine spun yarn
Rediscovery of Ancient Natural Dyes
Natural Dyes and Dyeing Photos

Our Natural Dyestuffs
Difference between synthetically and naturally dyed rugs
Weaving and Finishing Steps
Galleries of ARFP Caucasian Azerbaijani Rugs (sold pieces)
Current Inventory

Educational Section
Search the website
Interior design with our rugs
Antique & Old rugs and kilims for sale


back to "Historical Lotto carpets" main page



Anatolian "Lotto" rug fragment, Western Turkey, probably Ushak Region, late 15th - early 16th century. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Joseph V. McMullan Collection)

Date:probably late 15th–early 16th century
Medium:Wool (warp, weft and pile); symmetrically knotted pile
Dimensions:Rug: L. 13 1/2 in. (34.3 cm)
W. 27 in. (68.6 cm)
Credit Line:Gift of Joseph V. McMullan, 1972
Accession Number:1972.80.6
Not on view

Carpets displaying this striking design of stylized vegetal arabesques in yellow on a red ground are often called "Lotto" carpets after a famous altarpiece by Italian Renaissance painter Lorenzo Lotto that depicts a similar carpet. While the earliest examples of carpets using this design probably date from before 1500, the design remained popular for several centuries, and large numbers were exported to Europe, where they frequently appeared in paintings. Early examples of Lotto carpets exhibit pseudo-calligraphic borders like the one seen here. Thought to derive from a rectilinear form of Arabic script known as kufic, this type of interlaced border is characteristic of many early Turkish carpets.

Catalogue Entry

Belonging to the same family as the ‘Holbein’ rugs, the pattern of this fragment from a masterfully designed carpet is of an entirely different nature. The type is usually identified as a ‘Lotto’ design, again after the 16th century Venetian master, Lorenzo Lotto.

Instead of the ‘Holbein’ octagons, we find here an open design of continuously alternating rows of octagonal and cross-shaped forms created entirely from palmette leaves in yellow, set against the red of the ground.

In harmony with the ‘Holbeins’, the ‘Lotto’ rugs use the same Kufic border design. In this fragment the earlier type of Kufic border is used following still closely the forms of actual Arabic writing. It is from such forms that the purely linear decorative pattern of the later ‘Holbein’ rugs is derived.

[Arts Council 1972]
Joseph V. McMullan, New York (by 1965–72; gifted to MMA)