Sunday, 28 June 2009

Renaissance European Painters' Passion For Turkish Geometric Rugs

PRAGUE, July 12, 2009 -- European artists have long been interested in Eastern designs.

Just think of ethno trends today or the Orientalist paintings of the turn of the last century.

But if there was ever a peak period of Western artistic interest it was unquestionably the Renaissance.

For one hundred years, from 1450 to 1550, Europe's greatest painters were fascinated by the complex geometry of oriental carpet designs.

Artists included small or large parts of carpets in hundreds of their compositions and many clearly spent hours studying the details of the patterns to render them exactly.

Today, there are far more paintings of oriental carpets from the Renaissance period than there are surviving carpets themselves. And some painters are so closely identified with certain types of carpets that those designs are now called by the painters’ names.

Exactly why this happened is no clearer than how most fashions come and go spontaneously throughout history.

But there seem to be several things that oriental carpets represented to Renaissance Europeans that elevated them far above their usual role as household furnishings.

That they were furnishings, there is no doubt. As this Annunciation picture in the late 1400s by Pedro Berruguete shows, carpets and other luxurious textiles could make the richest palaces far more livable places than their cold stone walls might suggest to tourists today.

But the carpets also offered something hard to imagine in our globalized life today, and that is an extremely rare connection to the world beyond Europe. Merchants, diplomats, and soldiers saw parts of that world but the vast majority of people, even the richest, did not.

So, in a time when travel mostly meant listening to or reading a traveler’s tales, carpets and other rare imported textiles were powerful symbols. And it was as symbols that they were included in Renaissance painting.

In fact, the carpets with their mysterious eastern designs offered artists a partial solution to vexing problem. That was, how to give religious subjects more immediacy by portraying them in contemporary terms while still preserving their spiritual and historical distance from the viewer.

Again, this is a situation strange to us today. But the artists and their church patrons frequently chose to recast Biblical figures as modern people in modern settings. In this painting of the Annunciation by Andrea Previtali in 1508, just as in Berruguete’s picture above, the past is the present.

The presence of the rug, of course, is in line with the setting of a Renaissance noblewoman’s chambers. But, because the rug is from the East, it also helps place the scene simultaneously and more distantly in the Holy Land.

It doesn’t seem to have mattered that the carpet Previtali shows is an Anatolian carpet and has nothing to do with the Holy Land at all. That distinction would have been of no interest to any but a few very well-traveled individuals.

The design of the carpet was one that had only recently appeared at the time of the painting. Rug experts today refer to it as a 'small-pattern Holbein' after the Renaissance painter Hans Holbein the Younger who most famously painted several other rugs of this pattern.

Here is a 'small-pattern Holbein' from about the same time.

Art historian Rosamond Mack notes that representations in Persian miniatures indicate that such rugs had come into commercial production by 1410. (“Oriental carpets in Italian Renaissance paintings: art objects and status symbols,” Magazine Antiques, Dec. 2004.)

This suggests the 'small-pattern Holbein' was a successful design produced in the manufactories of Anatolia that was being exported to Europe around the same time Renaissance artists were depicting it.

But oriental carpets did not only enter Renaissance paintings as symbols of the East.

Many artists also used them to help draw the viewer’s eye immediately to the most important figures in the scene, much like we use red carpets at ceremonies today.

Here is a painting by Domenico Ghirlandaio entitled ‘Madonna and Child enthroned with Saints’, circa 1483.

The carpet is a 'large-pattern Holbein.'

Interestingly, the placing of thrones upon oriental carpets is a tradition that still continues in some places.

In Denmark, the 16th century Persian coronation carpet is used under the throne for coronations to this day.

This painting by Gentile Bellini offers another example. In his “Madonna and Child Enthroned” from the late 15th century, the subjects are clearly seated on a throne which itself is placed upon a carefully drawn carpet.

In Bellini’s picture, as in so many other Renaissance paintings, it again does not seem to matter that the carpet is from Anatolia and, in this case, is actually a Muslim prayer carpet.

A very similar carpet is this one from the late 15th to early 16th century.

The design, with its distinctive “keyhole” frame around the field, has since been named after Gentile Bellini as its most notable painter.

Eventually, the acceptability of prayer carpets did change with time.

Rug historians note that by 1530, prayer carpets cease to appear in Renaissance paintings, presumably as audiences became more familiar with the format and its close association with another faith.

Still, the adoption of Anatolian carpets into so many Christian religious paintings shows that - where art is concerned – people are often able to overlook seemingly profound differences.

One of the cataclysmic events for Europe at this time was the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453, which opened the way to the occupation of Christian south-central Europe. But trading between West and East soon resumed and both sides influenced each other.

Curiously, the Ottoman sultan who conquered Constantinople, Mehmet II, was a great admirer of Renaissance portrait painting. He asked Venice to send an artist to his court and the Venetians sent one of their most famous, Gentile Bellini himself.

Here is a portrait of Mehmet II painted by Bellini circa 1480. The European portrait style went on to profoundly affect Turkish miniature painting.

There are many more carpet designs that appeared in Renaissance religious paintings from 1450 to about 1550.

Always, the designs were almost exclusively geometric, as though painters relished the challenge of rendering their unfamiliar shapes as a test of their talent.

It didn’t matter that newer and more floral designs from the Ottoman court were also working their way westward. They are first represented in 1534 in the painting ‘Return of the Doge’s Ring’ by Paris Bordone. But they never got the same level of attention as the geometric carpets.

One, the most frequently painted of all the geometric rugs appears in this picture, “The Alms of St. Anthony,” by Lorenzo Lotto, 1542.

The rug in the foreground, which is named “Lotto” after the painter, is considered to be a variation of the 'small-pattern Holbein' style.

Shortly after this picture was painted, oriental rugs kinds began to disappear from Christian religious art altogether as new trends in painting took hold.

Artists and the public appear to have lost interest in the supreme effort at detail that the earlier altar scenes showed and new kinds of religious imagery became popular.
Increasingly the settings and trappings for Biblical stories were drawn from the classical period of ancient Rome.

But carpets continued to appear in portrait paintings, which became increasingly popular after 1475. And it is during this period that carpets became the status symbols that they have often been regarded as by later generations.

Here is a picture or two diplomats entitled 'The Ambassadors' by Hans Holbein the Younger in 1533.

The carpet is placed on the table for prominence, as it is in most portraits except those of royalty. For those the carpet was placed – as so often in religious painting – on the floor.

The central place given to the carpet in this picture shows how much oriental carpets were considered rare and valuable possessions. The message was that those who had them were successful men of the world.

In this picture, the carpet is a 'large-pattern Holbein,' again named after the painter.

The level of detail with which Holbein shows the carpet is astounding, as can be seen here.

The move of carpets into portraits also reflects a major changes in how people were coming to regard their homes and interior decorating as Renaissance Europe, both south and north, prospered.

Mack notes that “new Italian attitudes toward domestic furnishings must been foremost among the factors that propelled the oriental carpet into a display object and status symbol.”

She observes that “it became fashionable to display fine art and luxury goods, both locally produced and imported, in the marital bedchamber and the gentleman’s study” and that the “variety of objects and the number of families acquiring them increased steadily through the sixteenth century.”

The Renaissance is the first time in Europe’s history that people cared enough about interior décor for artists to painstakingly show every detail of the furnishings in a room.

The fact that they included carpets in their pictures for so many decades leaves us an unparalleled record of what styles were prominent in Europe and when.

Here is another detailed carpet, this time in a painting by Hans Memling in 1480. The carpet style, with its characteristic “hooked” motif – the 'Memling gul' -- is named after him.

What is missing in all the Renaissance paintings, of course, is any exact details about where the carpets were woven.

Carpet experts assume most of them came from Anatolia but – because of many variations in similar designs – also assume that some of them are copies of Turkish designs produced in Spain, the Balkans, or elsewhere.

The lack of details about the carpets origin is what prompted giving individual styles the names of the artists who painted them in the most detail or the most frequently.

This system, in fact, is a very recent invention.

It began with Dr. Kurt Erdmann, who was the director of the Islamic Department of West Berlin State Museums until his death in 1964. And it remains until someone finds something more accurate.




Related Links:

Rosamond Mack – “Oriental carpets in Italian Renaissance paintings: art objects and status symbols,” Magazine Antiques, Dec. 2004.

Wikipedia: Oriental Carpets in Renaissance Paintings

Medieval and Renaissance Material Culture

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Medallions, Flowers, And The Origins Of The Classic Persian Carpet Design

TEHRAN, June 22, 2009 -- About the time Ottoman carpets were first becoming popular in the West, a huge revolution in carpet design was beginning in Persia.

The revolution was a shift from carpets with geometric patterns towards carpets with floral motifs instead. And it created what has proven to be the most successful carpet format of all times: the Persian floral medallion carpet.

To envision a floral Persian medallion carpet, all one has to do is close one’s eyes and say the words “Persian carpet.” It is the design that most immediately springs to mind: a central medallion framed by four partial corner medallions on a garden-like field of flower petals, vines, or other tracery.

The reason the design is so familiar is that for hundreds of years now medallion carpets have been the unchallenged best-sellers of the global rug industry. They are woven in Iran, imitated by commercial weavers in half a dozen other countries, and are still the most frequently produced rug style in the world today.

But how did these carpets evolve?

The answer is one of the most fascinating stories in carpet history and takes one back to a period in Iran’s history that most people know little about.

That is the time of huge changes that came with the Turkic and Mongol invasions that began in the 11th century. The empires the nomadic invaders set up after the shock of their conquests were cultural melanges that mixed local art traditions with their own artistic values.

Because the eastern nomads had long lived on the edges of the Chinese world, they brought with them both Chinese influences and more direct access to Chinese textiles, painting, ceramics and other products. And these would have an immense influence on Persian art.

The effects first became clearly visible in Persia with the flourishing of the Timurid Empire, starting in the late 1300s.

The Timurids were the successors to Tamerlane, the Turkic prince who seized power in Samarkand in 1366 and then took over part of the empire carved out some 150 years earlier by Genghis Khan. Their holdings included Persia, western Afghanistan, and much of Central Asia.

This was shortly after the Ottomans’ rise in Anatolia, making the two empires both contemporaries and rivals.

The Timurids’ capital ultimately became Herat, in present-day Afghanistan, and there its court culture flourished.

The rulers attached special importance to miniature painting and it would be new styles developed in that art which would directly set the stage for Persia’s revolution in carpet design.

Timurid life is well recorded in the many miniature paintings that survive to this day. The paintings show a world where rich textiles hang on palace walls and carpets cover the floors.

So, it is possible to know what kind of carpets were made at the time, and what kind of artistic influences eventually changed them, even though no Timurid carpets remain today.

Unfortunately, the Timurid carpets exist only on paper.

Here is a detail of a painting Herat and dated 1429/30 that shows how much Timurid carpets resembled the geometric rugs being woven in the Ottoman Empire at the same time.

Some of patterns shown in Timurid paintings particularly show parallels to the small-pattern Holbein designs from Anatolia that are depicted in Italian Renaissance paintings.

All that probably should not be surprising. There was a shared Turko-Mongol culture behind rugs being woven across the region at the time and certainly rugs were traded back and forth and fashions spilled across borders.

But what is surprising is that the Timurid carpets should be followed by a radical change in carpet design when their Ottoman cousins were not. And the reason seems to be what is going on around the carpets in Timurid miniature art, as in this painting from Herat in 1429. It is a detail from an illustration for a manuscript of Kalileh-o-Dimneh by Abul Ma’ali Nasrollah.:

The carpet's design is abstract, theoretical, and geometrical. But around it are equally graceful, but very lifelike, depictions of people and plants.

This naturalist style became much more pronounced in Timurid painting than in earlier Persian and Mongol miniature art, and its “floral’” style seems to have eventually spilled over into Persian carpets as well.

Art historian Susan Day writes that in the Timurid era “Persian painters, subject to a new wave of Chinese influence, began to depict more naturalistically rendered spring landscapes peopled with animals, birds and mythical beasts enhanced by small individual flowering plants and trees.” (Susan Day, ‘Paradise Gained, Timurid Painting as the Mainspring of Safavid Carpet Design’ in Oriental Carpet and Textile Studies Volume V, Part 1, ICOC, 1999)

Just when and how a spillover to carpets happened is not known.

But some Timurid painters are believed to have also designed carpets, including the greatest of all, Kamal ad-din Bihzad in the second half of the 15th century. And certainly Timurid court culture was such that artists in different disciplines were keenly aware of what each other was doing and were often multi-talents, so cross-over would seem natural.

Timur’s grandson, Baysunghur Mirza who reigned as governor of Herat from 1413 to 1433 employed 40 craftsmen in his academy. Half of them specialized in tasks involved in producing manuscripts: calligraphy, painting, illumination, bookbinding and gilding. Other artisans designed tiles, marquetry and tents.

Timurid tile work also shows a fascination with more fluid, lifelike forms. Faience mosaic, or ‘tile mosaic,’ became the signature mark of Timurid architecture along with patterned brickwork. Huge surfaces were decorated with glazed tile work like this which survives on the Friday Mosque in Yazd, Iran.

Beyond the Timurid lands, rival courts in many other places were equally huge patrons of the arts, and they too may have contributed to the floral revolution in carpet design.

One great center was Tabriz. In the late 1400s, it was the capital of the “White Sheep Turkomans,” the Ak-Koyunlu, whose court astonished a Venetian ambassador with its brilliance. Giosofat Barbaro noted in his official report the beauty of the carpets he saw when he visited in the 1470s but, unfortunately, he gave no details about them.

Here is what Barbaro says about the carpets he saw at one court ceremony. The quote is from a translation of his travelogue that appeared in English in the 16th century:

“The day following I prepaired to him [the king] into a great feelde within the towne, wheare wheate had been sowen, the grass whereof was mowed to make place for the tryomphe and the owners of the grounde satisfied for it. In this place were many pavilions pight [erected], and as sone as he pceauned [perceived] me he comaunded certin of his to go with me, and to shew me those pavilions, being in nombre about [one hundred], of the which I pused [perused] [forty] of the fairest. They all had their chambres whinfoothe [interior rooms], and the roofes all cutt of divers colors, the grounde being covered with the most beautiful carpetts, betwene which carpetts and those of Cairo and Burse [Bursa] there is as much difference as betweene the clothes made of [fine] Englishe woolles and those of Saint Matthewes [cheap and low quality woolens sold at the San Matteo market in Florence].”

The Tabriz region had earlier been part of the Mongols’ powerful Il-Khanate – the most westerly division of Genghis Khan’s vast empire – and had a cultural heritage very much like that of the Timurids.

Here is a miniature painting believed to show the Ak Koyunlu ruler Ya'qub Bey (1478 to 1490) with his court sitting on a carpet that is again similar to a small-pattern Holbein but again also is set against a heavily Chinese-influenced floral landscape.

Overall, it was a time of great artistic competition across the Turkic-Mongol world as rulers maintained academies of artists, competed with each other to attract the best talents and even captured artisans in their military campaigns and took them to their capitals.

The pre-eminent miniaturist Bihzad, for example, eventually joined the court of the Safavids, the next great empire to arise in Persia after the collapse of the Timurids around 1500. And it is from the Safavid period that we have the first surviving Persian floral carpets.

As this picture shows, Safavid textiles in general could look almost as naturalist as miniature paintings themselves. This is a detail from a silk fabric showing horsemen and animals among flowers and trees.

But the move to floral carpets was not the only way carpets and carpet making changed during the Timurid times.

As Day notes, “the second half of the 15th century also corresponded to a revolution in carpet manufacture. The first large format carpets made on wide looms date from this time.”

So does the use of silk and the weaving of more intricate carpets executed from cartoons created by court artists, she says.

At some point in the middle of this ferment the elements came together that would define Persian carpets once and for all: the fusion of floral design with a central medallion.

Just where the central medallion design originated is impossible to know.

Many rug scholars point out that the format of a central medallion framed by quarter medallion corner pieces is simply a detailed excerpt or blowup of a staggered allover medallion pattern. Thus it is something that weavers may have played with in some form or another from time immemorial.

Day discovers an example of its use as a central motif (but without the corner medallions) on this carpet in a miniature from 1445 or 1446. It is an illustration for Nizami’s Khamseh and painted by Khwaja Ali al-Tabrizi.

But she says central medallions can be traced back as a decorative device to long before that.

Throughout the Islamic world, centralized circular medallions set off by corner quadrants are one of the oldest motifs used to embellish bookcovers.

In textile design, medallions can be found in Persia as far back as the Sassanid period, where they appear as decorative roundels. The Sassanid Empire preceded the conquest of Iran by Arab Muslims in 651.

And, looking still farther back, rug book author Jon Thompson suggests that “the theme of the central medallion is an old one with ancient religious and metaphysical roots in the art of central Asia. Its ultimate origin is probably in the Far East.” (Jon Thompson, ‘Oriental Carpets: From the Tents, Cottages, and Workshops of Asia,’ 1983.)

Placed on a floral field, the central medallion format would not just revolutionize Persian carpet design. Its attractive power would prove so great that the floral revolution behind it would soon also spread to the Ottoman Empire, changing the look of Turkish carpets, too. But how that happened is another story.


Related Links:


The Timurid Empire – University of Calgary

Art Arena: The Timurids

Weaving Art Museum: Masterpiece Persian Carpets

Nazmiyal Collection: Timurid Dynasty Carpets and Rugs

Bihzad and Persian Miniatures

A Brief History of Persian Miniature Painting

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Konya, The Seljuks, And The First Great Anatolian Carpets

KONYA, Turkey; June 10, 2009 -- Imagine you had a time machine and could visit one of the great carpet production centers of the Silk Road.

Where would you go?

You might follow Marco Polo’s advice and head for Konya, in central Anatolia.

The great Venetian traveler of the Silk Road describes the area around Konya this way on his journey from Anatolia to Persia between 1271 and 1272:

“The best and handsomest carpets in the world are wrought here.”

At the time, Konya was a major city of the Seljuk Empire. It was at the heart of the first great Turkic empires created by nomadic peoples sweeping into Iran and Anatolia from Central Asia and beyond at the start of the last millennium.

Turkic, as well as Mongol, empires dominated a huge swath of Eurasia from the 11th century through the 16th century and created a cultural melting pot that extended from Turkey to China.

And it was out of that melting pot, fueled by a constant exchange of commodities and ideas along the Silk Roads, that most of what we know today as oriental carpets emerged.

The nomads who followed their armies and settled down in the conquered areas brought their own rich tribal weaving styles into them. Over time, these fused with local artistic traditions to create a huge variety of new patterns in the continual process of design innovation and change that has always characterized the woven arts.

It is in Konya where travelers first record this fusion producing a major commercial, and international, carpet export industry. One is Ibn Battuta, Moroccan lawyer who spent 29 years traveling most of the Islamic world in the 14th century.

Visiting Konya in the 1330s, about 60 years after Marco Polo and just after the end of the Seljuk era, Ibn Battuta mentions that the carpets made there were exported to all the Turkic-ruled regions of the day. That included Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Persia, and parts of India and China.

The extent of the carpet industry’s reach should be no surprise. Ibn Battuta’s lengthy “Rihla” or “Book of Travels” describes a pre-modern but already globalized world.

As author Ross E. Dunn observes in his book ‘The Adventures of Ibn Battuta,’ the Moroccan traveler’s “tale reveals that by the 14th century the formation of dense networks of communication and exchange had linked in one way or another nearly everyone in the (Eastern) hemisphere with nearly everyone else.”

As just one example of the importance the rulers of the different parts of the vast Islamic world gave to trade, the Seljuks were famous builders of caravanserais, or “Hans.”

The ruins of many still stand in Anatolia today, marking the Silk Road trading routes that crisscrossed the empire and made it rich. This one is the Sultan Han at Aksaray, not far from Konya.

In the state-funded Hans, the vast caravans – some with enough camels to carry the equivalent of a cargo ship of their time – found water, food, and a secure place to stop for the night at regular intervals along the way.

Unfortunately, Ibn Battuta does not say whether Konya carpets were exported to Europe, leaving that a mystery. But it seems likely they were because Europe was in close trading contact with both the Seljuk Empire and the rest of the Islamic world.

After all, the Seljuk Empire was hardly terra incognita. Much of it was carved out of the Byzantine Empire as the Seljuks expanded westward from their first great conquest, Persia.

Once the Seljuk cavalrymen defeated the Byzantine army at Manzikert in 1071, the commanders settled down in Konya and other ancient Greek and Armenian towns.

But, as Dunn points out, nomadic Turkoman clans continued to drift over the Anatolian plateau, whose majority and heavily Hellenized and Christian population was still neither Muslim nor Turkish or Turkish-speaking.

As Marco Polo described it:

“The inhabitants of Turkomani may be distinguished into three classes. The Turkomans who … dwell amongst the mountains and in places difficult of access, where their object it to find good pasture for their cattle, as they live entirely upon animal food .. The other classes are the Armenians and Greeks, who reside in cities and in fortified places and gain their living by commerce and manufacture.”

Here is a map of the Seljuk Empire circa 1000. Indeed, the Seljuks called the lands of their Anatolian sultanate 'Rum' because it had been established on territory long considered "Roman", i.e. Byzantine, by Muslim armies. Rum was the Arabic word for Rome.

The Seljuk rulers had formal trading agreements with Genoa and Venice (see: Venice: Discovering Europe’s Silk Road City And The Early Carpet Trade), two of the European shipping powers that dominated the Eastern Mediterranean at the time.

The Italian ships regularly called at ports in southern Anatolia as well as in the Black Sea, presumably to pick up goods flowing Iran and Central Asia along the Anatolian trunk road linking Konya, Erzurum, and Tabriz.

But if Seljuk carpets reached Europe, there is no record of them in European painting of the time. By the time early Renaissance artists begin depicting carpets, the Seljuk Empire – which ended around 1300 – had fatally weakened by the next great wave of nomads to sweep over Eurasia, the Mongols.

Indeed, until very recently, there was no evidence at all – apart from the carpets’ very limited appearance in Seljuk miniature paintings (as in The Makamat Manuscript) – of what Marco Polo’s “best and handsomest carpets in the world” might have looked like.

The story of how some enterprising carpet lovers finally found a few surviving Seljuk pieces is one of the great surprises of the rug world.

In 1905, the German Consul General and others in Konya, was intrigued by Turkish custom of contributing rugs to mosques and noticed that in the oldest mosque in Konya – the Aleddin (Ala al-Din) mosque – the overlays of carpets had built up over time almost like geological strata.

In an amateur archaeologist’s dream, the consul persuaded the city government to allow an “excavation” to see if the oldest carpets might be from the Seljuk era, when the ancient mosque was greatly expanded in 1220.

To everyone’s amazement, carpets with designs never seen before were indeed discovered in one dark corner beneath all the others: three complete ones and five fragments. The vizier of Konya commissioned watercolors of the rugs, these were published in Europe by rug researcher F.R. Martin 1907-8, causing great excitement.

The rugs are now in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art in Istanbul and the Ethnographic Museum of Konya and are generally considered to have been woven late in the1200s or early in the 1300s.

But these are not the only Seljuk style rugs to be found.

In 1930, American Professor, R.M. Riefstahl “excavated” three more rugs in the Eşrefoğlu Mosque, a Seljuk-era mosque from 1296, in the city of Beyşehir, about 100 km east of Konya.

Those rugs are now in the Mevlana Museum of Konya, which celebrates the life of the Seljuk Empire’s best known citizen, Mevlana Jalaleddin Rumi (1207 -1273), the Sufi mystic whose followers founded of the Whirling Dervish order. His inspirational humanist and religious poems, which he wrote in Persian, are among the most popular works of poetry worldwide today.

And then finally in 1935 and 1936, the Swedish art historian Carl J. Lamm discovered seven more Seljuk carpets among a score of Anatolian fragments unearthed during excavations of Fustat, the first capital of Egypt under Arab rule.

Fustat was burned down in 1168 by its own vizier to keep it out of the hands of the invading Crusaders. After that, the area was incorporated into nearby Cairo but eventually fell into disrepair and for hundreds of years served as a garbage dump.

The fragments from Fustat, which are now kept in several European museums, suggest that the Seljuk carpets were indeed exported widely.

And thanks to all these miracle recoveries of Seljuk rugs early last century, we know that they were produced in two main styles. They could have overall repeating geometric patterns or repeating animal patterns.

The geometric patterns are complex and some of them have a surprisingly close resemblance to the patterns in Seljuk stonework, suggesting the rugs were part of an overall design movement not unlike design trends in many other periods, including our own.

Here is a geometric, recessed-brick pattern on the tower of a Seljuk-era mosque in Damghan, Iran.

But all the Seljuk carpets are unique in another way, and that is their use of color. They have a distinctive way of using two shades of the same color one upon the other to give their design a subtle, soft appearance.

This “ton sur ton” palette -- in various tones of red, brown, ochre, green and blue -- does not appear in later Turkish rugs. And it still makes Seljuk carpets sparkle today.

The peculiar designs of the Seljuks would later morph into very the different styles of the Ottomans, the next great empire to rise in Anatolia.

And this time Anatolian rugs would be so heavily exported to Europe that “Ottomans” would appear hundreds of times in the paintings of the Renaissance.

But it would be humble animal patterns of the Ottomans, and not their more complicated geometric cousins, that would become the first recorded oriental carpets in the West -- 100 years after the Seljuk Empire's demise. (see: Were Animal Design Carpets Europe’s First Favorite Oriental Rugs?).


Related Links:

Seljuk Textiles and Carpets

Turkish Culture – Anatolian Carpets

Persian Art – The Seljuks

The Seljuk Han in Anatolia

Wikipedia – Great Seljuk Empire

Wikipedia – Seljuk Sultanate of Rum