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A Cairene Medallion carpet, Ottoman Empire, Egypt, 16th century. Austrian Museum of Applied Art (MAK)

Image courtesy: www.rugtracker.com

(Formerly in the Imperial collection) Length, 728 cm.; width, 419 cm.

Warp: yellow silk, three-fold, left twist. To 1 dm. 134 warp threads (= 33 to the inch).

Weft: silk, dyed red. After every row of knots two thick shoots, one straight and one wavy.

Knotting: sheep's-wool and cotton, two-fold. The white knots are made of cotton. To 1 dm. 48 knots in the length and 67 in the width (= 12 and 17 to the inch).

Knotted on two warp-threads. To 1 square dm. about 3200 knots (= 200 to the square inch). Pile strongly to the left.

Colours: eight. In the inner field the ground red, the pattern in green, bluish-green, yellow, brown, while, dark blue, light blue and red. Border-colours: in the middle stripe, the ground red, the pattern in the same colours as the inner field; in. the edgings, the ground yellow, in places red; the pattern in dark blue, white, green. The border is not differentiated in its colour-scheme from the inner field. The outlines of the pattern of the whole carpet are in the various colours of the carpet.

State of preservation: very good. The carpet is only slightly worn. The parts of the pattern in cotton project, above the worn woollen knots.

The inner field shows an evenly-distributed all-over pattern. The border cuts into this pattern at the same point on both sides of the carpet, so as to render it completely symmetrical. In the true centre of the carpet is an elliptical medallion of irregularly-lobed outline superimposed upon the pattern; it is divided into zones with different patterns on grounds of varying colours. A blossom on a blue ground forms the centre, within an indented ellipse; the next zone contains radiating arabesques on a red ground; the third zone is wider, with radiating blossoms springing from palmettes in groups of three on a green ground. Across the groups down the middle and along the diagonals lie cloud-motives. Among the flowers, carnations, roses and tulips may be recognised. In the corners of the inner field of the carpet are to be seen quadrants of the middle-medallion with the same patterns but on grounds of other colours in the following sequence from the centre, green, red, dark-blue. The pattern of the inner field is composed of groups of ornament arranged in rows the groups in each alternate row being placed diagonally with relation to those in the two neighbouring rows. The chief motive resembles the lower part of the pattern of the prayer-carpet reproduced on Plate 56; it consists of an inter-connected floral composition, the middle line of which is formed by palmettes arranged one above the other. To right and left of these palmettes are to be seen, in symmetrical disposition, first two large curved serrated lancet-leaves, then two stems of rosettes curving away from one another. This principal motive is turned alternately towards the different ends of the carpet, so that the whole pattern has no single direction. Free spaces are left where the design contracts below, and these are filled with rosettes encircled by eight fringed-palmettes. The stems which connect these small palmettes with one another form an eight-pointed star. From this motive straight shoots issue, towards the ends of the carpet, crowned by palmettes. The rows of these palmettes turned alternately towards the different ends of the carpet, together with the rosettes between them (from which lancet-leaves issue on either side) separate the floral motives above described from one another. In the whole pattern emphasis is given both to the horizontal and vertical direction. The middle of the carpet is especially marked by a straight stem running from side to side.

The relatively-narrow border contains floral motives turned outwards. The blossoms, alternately enclosed within an ornamental form and standing free in groups, include roses, carnations, hyacinths, and tulips. The edgings are decorated with a row of rosettes and have on either side a strip containing small S-forms. At the ends patterned woven-borders with silk threads of different colours.

Text: Old Oriental Carpets, issued by the Austrian Museum for Art and Industy
with text by Friedrich Sarre and Hermann Trenkwald