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Cairene Ottoman prayer rug, 17th century. Formerly, Davide Halevim & Wher Collection  (Hali4-1,page 56)


The ivory cotton field with a pendant mosque-lamp beneath a shaded indigo arch containing ivory flowering vine supported by columns on either side, a linked floral double cartouche cross-panel above, in a pale beige border of palmettes flanked by serrated leaves and flowering vine alternating with rosettes between linked S-motif and rosette stripes, slight loss at each end, rewoven pendant, scattered touches of repiling
4ft.11in. x 4ft.1in. (149cm. x 124cm.) 

Price Realized £91,750 ($133,313)

Sale Information
Christies SALE 6423 —
14 February 2001
London, King Street

Lot Notes
The present rug is one of a group of just fifteen complete or partial rugs with silk foundations which are known to have survived to the present day. A complete list of these is given by Daniel Walker in his discussion of the example in the Cleveland Museum (Denny, Walter B. and Walker, Daniel (intro. by): The Markarian Album, Cincinatti, 1988, pp.54-60, esp. note 2, p.60). Of the fifteen, eight share the design of the present rug with its plain field, one of the best of which is that formerly at Amberly Castle and now in the al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait (Herrmann, Eberhart: Seltene Orientteppiche IV, Munich, 1982, no.1, pp.57-9).

In his discussion of the group detailed above, Daniel Walker notes that four rugs, of which the present example is one, form a subgroup all with the same design but with slightly less curvilinear drawing and slightly lower knot count. The other three in this subgroup are those in the Khalili Collection (Rogers, J.M.: Empire of the Sultans, Ottoman Art from the Collection of Nasser D. Khalili, Geneva, 1995, no.135, pp.200-202), one offered in these Rooms 19 April 1979, lot 22, and one which appeared many years ago in the sale of the collection of V. Everit Macy (American Art Association, New York, 7 January 1938, lot 331). Most of the rugs in the larger group make extensive use of cotton. The border ground colour of a number is light blue cotton. White cotton in large quantities is rarer; the al-Sabah rug has white cotton spandrels, as do the Walters Art Gallery and Ballard Collection rugs (Ettinghausen, R. et al.: Prayer Rugs, exhibition catalogue, Textile Museum, Washington D.C., 1974, nos. 2 and 1) together with the fragmentary example in Budapest (Vegh, Gyula and Layer, Károly: Turkish Rugs in Transylvania, Fishguard, 1977, no.20). None however apart from the present example try using cotton for the main mihrab panel.

This group of rugs with silk warps has traditionally been attributed to Bursa. Daniel Walker points out the challenge to this set by the discovery of the Medici Cairene rug which can be dated to before 1623, the year in which it entered the Medici Collection. It has the light blue border and extensive cotton details noted in the silk warped group, but is said in the inventory record to come from Cairo. The products of the Imperial workshop in Istanbul have not been idenitfied with any certainty and it is still tempting to attribute this group to that atelier. The claim of Bursa is weakened by the fact that the last textual record of carpet weaving at Bursa dates from 1525, while records of weavers continue through the century and beyond in both Istanbul and Cairo (Pinner, Robert: "Appendix [of textual sources]" Oriental Carpet and Textile Studies II Carpets of the Mediteranean Countries 1400-1600, London, 1986, pp.291-294). 

picture courtesy: John Taylor, rugtracker.com