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"Transylvanian" rug, Western Turkey, 17th century, Ottoman Empire. Museum of World Culture, Sweden

We know of no other Transylvanian carpet with the same patterning structure. The cartouche border is common to most Transylvanian-type carpets from Western Anatolia. In later carpets the medallion-type is known above all from the Bergama region. The Transylvanian carpets from Western Anatolia are distinguished among other things by both the warp and the two weft threads being dyed red with madder. This carpet has eight shades of colour: two reds, two blues, aubergine, yellow, dark brown (the contour line) and white (uncoloured). The dyer’s craft at this time presented a high level of excellence, and all the colours of the carpet have retained their brilliance for something like 300 years.
History of the Object
A new kind of carpet tradition was inaugurated in Western and Central Anatolia in the mid-17th century for export to Europe. A number of established production centres were commissioned by the Osman rulers to create a type of sacred carpet with patterning adapted to the rules and traditions of Islam. The patterns of these “cottage-industry” carpets were turned into geometric shapes, most often borrowing elements of patterning from Osman court carpets. Zoomorphic motifs were not allowed. In Western Anatolia, Bergama, Kula and Usak were the centres for putting work out in the villages. In the villages with the finest weaving tradition, the women worked from knotted/woven patterns and the dyeing was done by skilled professionals. Much later these carpets were discovered in a number of Protestant churches in Transylvania, Romania. Transylvania was occupied by the Osmans between 1526 and 1711, and this gave them control of all the Balkan trade routes. Kronstadt (Barsov) had long been an important trading city and now became the commercial gateway to Eastern Europe, especially Austria-Hungary. The Anatolian carpets were already well known and sought after. The carpets in the Transylvanian churches were probably votive gifts from the wealthy Kronstadt trading houses, but private donations also occurred, as witnessed by the dates and donors’ names recorded on many of these carpets. The majority are dated between 1650 and 1720. This carpet came to the museum about 1883 from Istanbul.


Materials: wool
Measurements: Width 145 cm Length 180 cm
Creation date: 17th Century; later half
Purchased in Istanbul, Turkey ca 1883
Owner: Museum of World Culture, Sweden