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Late 16th century Selendi prayer rug in a white ground, Western Anatolia, Ottoman Empire. Boehringer collection

Price Realized £229,250 ($369,780)

Sale Information
Christies SALE 5106 —
24 April 2012
London, King Street

Lot Description
Uneven overall wear, corroded black with associated repiling, scattered reweaves and small repairs, selvages original, end kilims mostly original and secured, backed
5ft.10in. x 3ft.11in. (178cm. x 119cm.)

C.H. Boehringer & Sohn, Ingelheim-am-Rhein, gifted on 6 June 1958 to J.R.Geigy Ltd
Pre-Lot Text
Jürg Rageth, 'A Selendi Rug: An Addition to the Canon of White-Ground Cintamani Prayer Rugs', Hali 98, May 1998, pp.84-91 and front cover.
Stefano Ionescu, Handbook of Fakes by Tuduc, Boston, 2010, p.130.

Lot Notes
In his study of white ground classical Anatolian rugs and carpets Marino Dall'Oglio notes that there is a total of about thirty or so white ground cintamani rugs and carpets of which about twenty five are relatively small, similar in size to the present rug (Marino Dall'Oglio, 'White Ground Anatolian Carpets', in Robert Pinner and Walter Denny (ed.), Oriental Carpet and Textile Studies II, Carpets of the Mediterranean Countries, London, 1986, p.191). Of these over half are prayer rugs which share many features with the present rug. In his publication of the present rug Jürg Rageth located thirteen complete and partial examples of which the present rug is one of the very best preserved (Rageth, op.cit, pp.84-91). The group is characterized by a restricted palette with overall cintamani field designs and niches with stepped profiles. In contrast to the 'bird' Ushak and related rugs with which the present rug shares the palette and basic structure, none of these rugs appear ever to have been intended for the Western European export market. None have survived in Western Europe, and none are depicted in paintings. Also interesting is the fact that virtually none have surfaced in Turkey; all have an Eastern European provenance and have generally survived in Transylvanian churches. Ionescu notes that there is one fragment noted to have come from Turkey (Stefano Ionescu, Antique Ottoman Rugs in Transylvania, Rome 2005, p.54), and quotes an article by Alberto Boralevi ('Back To Transylvania', Ghereh 33). He does not however give a page reference and the quote proves elusive. The popularity of all white ground Ottoman rugs in a Transylvanian context is demonstrated both by the fact that Hungarian and Transylvanian inventories from the late sixteenth century onwards refer specially to "white rugs", and by the proportion that survive today in Protestant churches there (Boralevi, op.cit, p.17).

This prayer rug was most probably woven in Selendi, near Ushak in West Anatolia, where there appears to have been a workshop from which many of the white ground cintamani prayer rugs originate. This theory is supported by Halil Inalcik's research into Ottoman price registers (Halil Inalcik, 'The Yuruks', in Pinner and Denny op.cit, pp.39-65 esp.p.58). In an Ottoman listing of rugs, their designs, origins and maximum prices dating from 1640, one entry under the section Seccade (Prayer Rugs) reads: Selendi style with leopard design. For further discussion on the use of cintamani in the decorative arts please see Gerard Paquin, 'Cintamani', Hali, no.64, pp.104-119.

This rug is unusual for its tripartite division of the field, a feature only seen elsewhere in one largely rewoven rug in the National Museum of Art in Bucharest (Ionescu 2005 op.cit., no.49, p.105; Rageth, op.cit., no.14, p.91). The drawing of the prayer arch on the Bucharest rug however is completely within the restored section, indicating that the present rug must have served as the model for the restorer, very possibly Theodor Tuduc when he wove the repair. The majority of the thirteen cintamani prayer rugs also share the same border as is found here, with minor variations. It is a border that is only found on one other rug, a Lotto variant rug formerly in the Wilhelm von Bode Collection (Rageth, op.cit, pl.8, p.88).

Despite extensive enquiries which he details in his article Jürg Rageth could not track down the provenance of this rug prior to its ownership by Boehringer in 1958. Ionescu notes that it was previously in a Protestant Lutheran parish and then in the possession of Theodor Tuduc, but does not quote the source (Ionescu, 2010 op.cit., p.130). Boehringer was a renowned collector of art, and a great Oriental rug enthusiast, and it seems likely that the prayer rug was a personal gift to a particular partner at Geigy. Photographs of Boehringer's collection are still held in the archive of the Museum of Islamic art in Berlin, although sadly the cintamani prayer rug does not appear. The rug was rediscovered in 1995 after a long period when it was not appreciated; it was cleaned and re-backed at that time. It is one of only two rugs of this group that are in private hands.

This rug was sampled on 15 March 1995 by Dr Georges Bonani of ETH-Zurich, sample no.ETH-14055. The C14 results indicated a calibrated age of 1455-1647 with 100 probability.