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"Lotto" rug with Closed Kufesque Border, first half XVI century, Western Turkey, Ushak Region, Ottoman Empire. Saint Louis Art Museum, inv. no: 101:1929. Gift of James F. Ballard

Size: 80 x 44 in. (203.2 x 111.8 cm)


Warp: undyed white wool, Z2S, alternate warps slightly depressed.

Weft: dyed red wool, Z1, 2 shoots.

Pile: wool, Z2S, dyed yellow, red, light blue, dark blue, blue-green, mildly corrosive dark-brown and undyed white.

Knot: Symmetrical, slightly pulled to the left, 40V x 36H/dm = 1,440/dm2 (93/in2).

Sides: not original

Ends: less than 1 cm red and blue-green tapestry weave.

Carpets with this type of angular, stylized floral design are referred to as “Lotto” carpets because they appear in several paintings by the Renaissance Italian artist Lorenzo Lotto. He knew such carpets because they were exported to Italy from Anatolia. Although this style was popular in Italy, carpets made for the Ottoman court in Istanbul were very different, with central medallions and curving floral designs. Carpets were also used differently in the two regions: in the Islamic world, they were placed on the floor, whereas in Europe, they were used to cover tables. For this reason, the export carpets were generally smaller than those made for use within the Ottoman Empire.

The motif in the border of the carpet is pseudo-Kufic script. Kufic is an angular style of Arabic script, and here the letters are so abstracted and stylized that they are merely decorative. For centuries, luxury textiles had been exported from the Islamic world to Europe, so the pseudo-script indicated the carpet’s origins and value.



The two details shown above represent the same section of the Ballard ‘Lotto’ rug, approximately 10 cm square, taken from both front and back. On the face one can see the slight pull to the left of the tight and well-balanced 2-ply symmetrical knotting. The back detail clearly shows the ribbed surface caused by the partial depression of alternate warps, and double weft shoots of red-dyed wool.