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Prayer rug with multiple prayer niches
Holding Museum: Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum Berlin, Germany
Original Owner: O. Bernheimer Collection, Munich

Museum Inventory Number: I. 25/61
Dimensions: Length 128 cm, width 329 cm
Material(s) / Technique(s): Wool, maroon and white, knotted.
Date of the object: Hegira 11th century / AD 17th century
Period / Dynasty: Ottoman
Provenance: Ushak region, western Turkey.

Description: This carpet fragment is the preserved part of a considerably larger prayer rug featuring multiple prayer niches. The carpet features a row of six red niches of various widths that are closed at the top by dark-blue arches. The sixth niche on the left-hand side is only a half-niche as the carpet was cut at this point and the border repaired. The niches are separated using fine green lines that run down to the bottom and which could be interpreted as substitute columns. The carpet’s narrow border consists of a double-edged, reciprocal pattern of alternating light-blue and yellow crenellations. The wider, less complete, border has a single row of crenellations, yellow alternating with blue.
The particular clarity of the carpet’s design and its use of colour demonstrate the Ottoman understanding of the decorative arts and their practice. Unlike most of the other known multiple prayer-niche carpets, this one is very simple, in that nowhere is it overly decorated; however even in its simplicity, it still follows a systematic composition of ordered patterns covering the surface, as can be seen repeatedly within Ottoman art from as early as the AH 9th / AD 15th century. Its simplicity, vibrant colours and the combined overall impact it creates would definitely have appealed to middle European tastes. Followers of the Islamic faith would have prayed on multiple prayer-niche carpets placed parallel to the qibla wall in the mosque. Admittedly, the rows of niches on this carpet merely refer to its function or use, because, essentially, each clean surface acts as a pad on which to pray. The narrowness of each niche on the carpet hints that a believer would have required more space in which to pray than that afforded by the narrow niches on the carpet.

How object was obtained: Obtained in 1961 from the O. Bernheimer Collection, Munich.
How date and origin were established: The carpet has been dated on the grounds of its pattern, colours and knot-technique to be from the 11th / 17th century.
How provenance was established: The carpet belongs to a group of Ottoman carpets that are referred to as the Ushak Group.
Selected bibliography:
Arseven, C. E., Les Arts Décoratifs Turcs, Istanbul, 1952.
Erdmann, K., Siebenhundert Jahre Orientteppich, Herford, 1966, p.108, plate 9.
Museum für Islamische Kunst Berlin, Catalogue, Berlin, 1979, no. 4.
Spuhler, F., Die Orientteppiche im Museum für Islamische Kunst Berlin,Berlin, 1987, no. 18, plate 18.
Weltkulturen und Moderne Kunst, Catalogue,München, 1972, pp.99–100, no. 291.
Citation of this web page:
Annette Hagedorn "Prayer rug with multiple prayer niches (fragment)" in Discover Islamic Art. Place: Museum With No Frontiers, 2014. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;de;Mus01;38;en
Prepared by: Annette Hagedorn
Translation by: Maria Vlotides, Brigitte Finkbeiner
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen