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




Price Realized 79,250 ($122,362)

Sale Information
SALE 7988
4 October 2011
London, King Street

Lot Description
Full pile with localised areas of uneven wear, corroded brown, a few scattered small areas of repiling, some small repairs, sides and ends secured
7ft.1in. x 4ft.9in. (215cm. x 145cm.)

Lot Notes
This rug is a fascinating study in the transmission of design. Would that we could get into the mind of the designer to find out more about him, his background, and the influences that he valued. It is an extraordinary combination of elements from different origins, which are presented together in a combination that is spectacularly effective.

The colouration of the carpet is typical of Ushak, as is the fine regular weave and red wefting. The border is also one that is extremely rare, but does appear on two late 16th century Ushak carpets, each with 'ornamented Lotto' field design (Eberhart Herrmann, Von Ushak bis Yarkand, Munich, 1980, p.29; Christie's London, 18 October 2001, lot 225). The design of the main field, spandrels and outer border all use designs that are however much more similar to other carpets from central Anatolia rather than Ushak in the west. The large angular motifs, the tulips, the spandrels and the outer border are far closer in feel and execution to a small group of carpets from central Anatolia, often attributed to Karapinar as suggested by May Beattie, the earliest of which also date from the late 16th century (May H. Beattie, 'Some Rugs of the Konya Region', Oriental Art, vol.XXII, no.1, pp.60-76). Notable among these are the triple medallion carpet published by Moshe Tabibnia and its fragmentary brother sold in these Rooms from the Bernheimer Collection 14 February 1996, lot 130 (Jon Thompson, Milestones in the History of Carpets, Milan, 2006, no.26, pp.226-235). The colouration and drawing of these elements in or carpet is immediately recognisably closely linked to the two carpets discussed by Jon Thompson, with its use of blocks of colour without any outlining, but the structure is not.

The third strange element found in this carpet is the yellow band within the field linking cusped medallions that flank the central medallion. This is a feature which is found in a clearly later derivative form in three rugs that are clearly of central Anatolian origin. Eberhart Herrmann published one of these and lists the other two, one formerly in the Jacobi Collection and now in the City Art Museum St. Louis, the other in a private collection having been at Skinner from whence purchased by Franz Sailer (Hali 38, March/April 1988, advertisement p.23). This element supports a central Anatolian origin for the present rug, as does the similarity to the Milestones carpets.

There are however three earlier carpets that have a band of medallions around the centre that are linked, as here by a strapwork band. All are small silk Kashan rugs attributed to the mid-16th century. One, in the Bavarian National Museum, has very strong strapwork linking medallions containing palmettes. A second, in the Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro, Coimbra, is almost identical in design (Jessica Hallett, 'From the Looms of Yazd and Isfahan', in Jon Thompson (ed.), Carpets and Textiles in the Iranian World, Oxford and Genoa, 2010, fig.5, p.100). The third, from the Widener Collection and now in the National Gallery, Washington D.C., has clear cloudband panels linked by a somewhat tenuous band, but forming a similar shape. In his discussion of the large central Anatolian carpets in Milestones Jon Thompson discusses the links to kilim designs, and then suggests a lost possibly Syrian original design. The kilim source is almost indisputable, but its origin is much less clear. He follows May Beattie in comparing elements of the design to Anatolian kilims, but he also finds strong similarities with the designs of Safavid kilims. We know that the Ottomans prized Safavid weaving. We also know that both the design and the technique existed at the Safavid court. It is not more possible that there was one or a group of Safavid silk kilims that related in design to the Small Silk Kashans, which were prized at the Ottoman court and therefore influenced Ottoman carpet design?

The present carpet is potentially an important link in this process. It has designs from Persia and from Ushak, woven in a structure that is typical of Ushak, a workshop that produced many weavings for the Ottoman court. They are combined with designs that are best known from central Anatolia. Is this a brilliant shadow left in the court workshops at Ushak by the passing of the designs from Persia to central Anatolia?