An assortment of whiteground Turkish carpets have come to be known as the “Selendi” group,after a town in West Anatolia.Whether that provincial hamlet is aware of its fame in carpet circles is uncertain;but probably not.The reference to Selendi was uncovered by Turkish historian Halil Inalcik in a business register dating from 1640,found at Edirne.Carpets with “crow” and “leopard” design are mentioned,as is the “Selendi style”,which has been taken to mean the carpets were woven in different areas.
And at different times.For the problem with this overview has been to weed out the many later copies from the originals,most of which have been the subject of forgery.The main groups have come to be known as:1)The Bird Group;2)The Chintamani Group with three discs,chiefly prayer rugs;3)The Chintamani group with three discs and stripes;4) a cluster of rugs with tilted animal-palmette design,here described as the Tortoise group.5)The Medallion carpets with halved-medallion borders which were subsequently remodelled into the Kis Ghiordes group.
The text concentrates on a number of salient examples from each group.The rest can be viewed separately by clicking the links at the end of each section.It seemed safest to ignore pieces of lesser quality,in order to avoid the treacherous minefield of fakes.Anything which might be considered a good Tuduc may thus be attributed.For instance,the Bird carpet in Stockholm with the Arms of the Bishop of Lemberg would be a likely candidate.Tuduc loved Armorial designs and fabricated many of them.
The “Bird” rugs constitute the largest group.With a few exceptions the borders employed are invariably the Cloudband or more rarely the halved medallion(or "Kis Ghiordes")border.Carpets in large sizes are almost always of a superior quality,with 9-10 colours and elegant compartment layouts.The smaller rugs suffer under a dwindling colour palette,and often a total absence of blue.It is hard to imagine a good antique Turkish rug without blue.Instead,a tepid olive colour is usually employed,often within the birds themselves,which are generally rendered in one hue only.Interestingly,Indigo Sulphon is known to fade to such a shade.However,it can also be produced by dyeing yellow onto light brown wool,or on a copper mordant.This may have led C.G Ellis to surmise that such drab rugs were produced in the Balkans(along with a reading of Wilhelm Bode in the earliest editions of his book-although Bode later revised his opinion)
A dating throughout the 17th century seems realistic.A few paintings corroborate this,including a work by Peter Candid on the ceiling of the Hall of Advice in Munich`s Residenz,built between 1612 and 1616.The later Tuduc fakes were produced between 1920 and 1939,when the war halted production.Tuduc was initiated into carpet restoration by an Armenian dealer,and collaborated with Armenian designers most of his working life.It`s possible that he did not suddenly dream up the idea of forging the carpets found in Transylvanian Churches,but that this activity had already begun in the 19th century.Thus we would have to deal with antique fakes,possibly made with good natural colours.This would also explain Bode`s hypothesis.There are some Bird rugs with inscribed dates,however,and no blue,such as a Bird carpet in the classical”Transylvanian” style,which is dated 1646.The lack of blue is important because Indigo blue is so hard to imitate,even today,but much more so in the twenties and thirties.The easiest solution when faking an old rug would be to leave it out completely-and yet which old Turkish rug has no blue?The blue colours on fake rugs which the author has seen in person were all very flat and unconvincing;and synthetic dyed blues change shade dramatically under electric light,which is not the case with Indigo.The best examples of type,such as the V&A carpet,the Toms-Mikaeloff,the Bargello or large McMullan,all have excellent blues,and mostly greens.An interesting group of European fragments with the Bird design,probably 17th century, were woven on a blue-green ground,as if their makers had deliberately chosen to work against the grain.But they had Indigo,unlike a large group of “Selendi”carpets which for some reason had lost it.
|Although fragmented,one of the best examples.Bierthan Church,Transylvania|
|A large fragment from the Toms Sale,1995,later with Mikaeloff|
There are three large carpets in Turkey;two in Istanbul and one in Konya.
|Konya Museum of Ethnography|
|When found,the entire carpet had been dyed red.Austrian Collection|
at: Discover Islamic Art
|Lees Williams Collection,Philadelphia|
|Victoria and Albert Museum London,acquired 1884|
A carpet in the Transylvanian style has a single row of vertical birds,cloudbands in alternating colours,reduced inner guard and lateral leaf embellishments.It is the oldest inscribed rug of this type
|Schmutzler,1933,plate 3.Inscribed 1646.|
A carpet once at Lefevre`s later appeared in restored condition at Sothebys
An example from the Paulette Goddard Collection later surfaced with Mirco Cattai
A fine example in the "Transylvanian" style,from the Black Church of Brashov,without blue
|after Ionescu,AORT 59|
Some examples employ an "intrusive" border,as if to imply direction
Another,coarser group divides the main borders into sections
Some very large and imposing carpets were woven with a halved-medallion meander border,also employed on the prototype Kis-Ghiordes rugs.
A carpet from the Assisi Town Hall was re-discovered 20 years ago
|photo courtesy of Alberto Boralevi|
A delightful small carpet in Philadelphia is so screwball it might be a fake,but its blues and greens are much too accomplished
|John D.McIlhenny Collection|
Many fragments have been recorded
|formerly Barbieri Collection|
A few variant borders are known.A carpet in Berlin has a ragged-leaf border and apparently good colour.It was purchased in 1891.
A dynamic example once in the Wher Collection employs an arabesque medallion border
A carpet surely modelled on an abstract version of the Bird design is in Cracow
This section concludes with the green ground European fragments,either English or French,but with a border typical of Spanish carpets
The floral arrangement between the four revolving birds which form the compartment are a rare occurence in Turkish carpet art,which tends to be strictly symmetrical.Perhaps an Iranian origin can be presumed.A silk embroidery preserved in the Shrine of the Imam Ali at Najaf seems to incorporate all pertinent elements,and other examples are known.Aga-Oglu dated it to the 18th century,but these type of weavings surely share a common ancestor with the Bird rugs.
|Shrine of Imam Ali,Aga-Oglu illustration 28|
Such designs have a long history as border props,as was investigated here:
Dervish Swastika Design
The Bird carpets are in fact an allover design,thus depicting not a single animal,but a flock-or Conference-of birds.
Selendi Bird Rugs-Kis Ghiordes Border
Selendi Bird Fragments
The History of a Rug
The “discs and waves” design seen on some Ushak carpets was christened “Çintamani” by Wilhelm Bode,probably to describe an iconic carpet in his collection,which is now in the Textile Museum.Its use is contested,but as so often happens,the name has stuck.It may originally have represented a heraldic clover.The added waves seen on Ottoman textiles and Cairene carpets were a later addition whose meaning is lost.In this form they seem only to appear in the 16th century Ottoman Empire,although the triple disc sign is a primeval symbol,used in our day to portray radiation hazard.It appears on Mycenaean shields and pottery from Klazomenai.It also occurs in the nokta of Arabic script,which would have been ever-present for the Anatolian weavers. Louise Mackie has shown that the form varies on textiles and carpets:on the textile version the discs rest on a wavy hillock;in carpets they hover over a tray. The various connotations of tiger and leopard skins,Tamerlaine,etc were a boon for rug dealers and authors on the lookout for a lurid sales-pitch.Combined with the discs,the waves conjure up a languorous mood not unlike the Chinese cloud wisps so popular amongst Muslim artists,as shown by an illustration from the Falnama.
Anatolian carpets with this design are very rare.They can be thus divided:a group with triple discs and waves;a group with prayer design and triple discs;a group with triple discs and lattice;and a last cluster with triple discs.
A carpet with discs and waves in the Schwarzenberg family collection was published in the Wienerwerk of 1891,making it the first published example of type,and an obviously pre-Tuduc product.Apparently recorded in the family archives in 1724,the carpet has curiously wooden colouring and a remarkable condition.Its i.d mark is a missing tail to the wave in the upper center field.It formed the prototype for the fake carpet later sold to the V&A,and indeed seems to have been offered as such.As with the Bird group,carpets with this design employ either a Cloudband or Kis-Ghiordes border.A carpet in the Bardini Museum with Cloudband border was first published in 1929,and was probably the model for the Berlin fake purchased in 1959.Most of the copies use a simple black dot design,whereas the old pieces have an extra “cross-eye” within the discs.Both the Schwarzenberg and Bardini carpets also feature a three colour cloudband design.
Featured on the cover of Hali 64,the von Bode-Dumbarton Oaks-Textile Museum carpet is probably the best example,with at least nine colours which manage to convey the impression of many more through constant new combinations.The drawing is crisp and lively,and again employs a three colour cloudband border.It was the subject of an in-depth examination by Louis Mackie in the Textile Museum`s 1976 issue(IV-3)including dye analysis by Mark Whiting and a discussion of the known fakes.
A carpet at Sothebys in 1976 has good-looking colour,a large format with three colour cloudbands,and red dyed warps.Although hard to believe,it seems authentic,but has subsequently disappeared.
|Sothebys November 1976|
One last fragment with this rare design is in Philadelphia,a Kis Ghiordes border design much superior to the Schwarzenberg carpet.
Selendi Discs and Waves
A larger group of prayer rugs with simple mihrabs lain over a triple disc field were found chiefly in Transylvania,six pieces in all.The field design of repeating trefoils has all the simplicity of a Tülü,or Gabbeh carpet,paired with a complex reciprical border outlined in brown silhouettes.The border appears on a Lotto carpet variant once with Bode,now Robert Müller Collection.
This rhythmic interplay seems lost in a group of three carpets,all of which have been associated with the forger Tuduc.A carpet discovered in Basel and said to have belonged to the industrialist Boehringer was apparently the model for a restored fragment in Bucharest,although the reverse may also be the case.A carpet once with Tuduc shares the same borders,but as in the Tuduc and Basel examples the border has been turned sideways,thus diminishing the ground-figure reciprocity.
|Bucharest,after and before restoration|
On the other 6 carpets from Transylvania the borders march forward aligned in the same direction.The design is,however,that seen on the original Lotto carpet from Bode,and soldiered on well into the 19th century,as can be seen on an Avshan design carpet once with Mirzakhanian.The mihrab design of the Bucharest-Boehringer carpets has been influenced by an iconic item in Budapest,published in Tapis Turcs.
Two sublime prayer portraits are housed in Istanbul,and are amongst the most beautiful of the Selendi group.They share a halved-medallion border and accomplished colouring.The border is especially well-developed,much more than in the Kis Ghiordes group,and the spandrel elements are finely drawn.One inscribed piece can be dated to the early 18th century.They were in fact influenced by a group of Saf carpets from Ushak,which display similar spandrel treatment and the footmarks to position the faithful.Another two examples in this style are known,one in Munich in the Bavarian National Museum,which was acquired before 1883,and another example with calligraphy plaques which was sold at the AAA in 1914.
|Bavarian National Museum,Munich-AAA 1914|
The two Istanbul pieces are more rural versions of the following pair which may or may not be related.A rug in more Persianate style with a border influenced by certain Vase carpets certainly indicates an urban production center,and raises once more the question”where`s the blue?” for that has been replaced by the onerous olive shade.The carpet once belonged to the versatile Paulette Goddard.Rarely has such an outstanding design been coupled with such dire colouring.A second rug,once with Bernheimer,also employs a pure silhouette scheme and an interesting bird and carnation reciprocal in the borders.The trefoil discs have been reduced to an overall dottiness.They may or may not be from the revivalist era,but are nonetheless audacious products.
|Above:Ballard vase Carpet border|
|right:Lotto carpet,Art Curial,Paris|
Prayer Rug Gallery
Two carpets in Philadelphia,originating from different American Collections, both have pendants in the Konya Ethnographic Museum.One carpet with lattice and multiple trefoils is knotted in reddish brown and white,and was with the Dutch dealer Van Stolk in c.1910.At 322 x 219 cms it is not exactly a standard Anatolian size.
|Mevlana Museum Konya|
|Lees Williams Collection,Philadelphia;Mevlana Museum Konya|
A tranche of three carpets,all found in Transylvania,feature an allover trefoil disc design.
A charismatic group has come to be known as the scorpion design group,although the author sees tortoises,preferring a long life to a sudden death.The rugs utilise an animalised palmette design tilted on its side.Such a development is also known from a rare cluster of Spanish carpets.The most impressive version can be seen on a carpet in the Keir Collection.A famous rug published in Tapis Turcs is shown here(left) alongside a Rumanian copy(right)Two examples in Mediasch and Brașov employ borders derived from later Lotto carpets.And a last “waterbug” carpet,at Sothebys 1979,has since disappeared,thus underlining its probable status as a forgery.
Selendi Tortoise Rugs
The last group assigned to the Selendi “area” comprises 15 small medallion examples with an offset halved medallion border.Whether or not the carpet from Bistrita in the pure “Transylvanian” mode can be seen as the prototype is difficult to say.A number of other Transylvanian carpets also utilise this border. Unlike the trefoils of earlier rugs,the white field Kis Ghiordes rugs are strewn with small c-forms.Colour is generally excellent,and the best examples make a crisp and energetic impression.Production continued into the 19th century,but the animal-skin field concept was later replaced by a more genteel style.
|Schmutzler 51,Bistrita,now in Nuremberg|
|Christies 1999-Sothebys 1991|
|Dani Ghigo-Rippon Boswell|
|Sothebys 1980-Halevim sale-Battilossi 4|
Selendi Kis Ghiordes Rugs
A carpet from the early 19th century(?) incorporates many elements of the Bird carpet design,albeit in an abstracted way
|TKF-Anatolia to India|
Later versions from the 19th century include two bird rug models,one on a blue ground,and two whiteground rugs with simple trefoil.A carpet from Manastir successfully imitates the old whiteground Transylvanian style with a simple mihrab lain over an allover field design.And finally a charming village rug complete with allover dots and the feet of the believer.
|Budapest-Eskenazi-Rippon Boswell 2011|
|Wall paintings in Sighişoara,Rumania-and Poland(right)|
|Paulette Goddard,carpet collector|
Batari,Ferenc-Turkish Rugs in Hungary, Hali 3-2
Batari,Ferenc-Ottoman Turkish Carpets
Boralevi,Albert-Back to Transylvania,Ghereh 33
Dall`Oglio,Marino-White Ground Anatolian Carpets-OCTS II
Dall `Oglio,Marino-Turkish Rugs in Transylvania(a new edition of Tapis Turcs)
Ellis,C.G-Oriental Carpets in the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Erdmann,Kurt-A Carpet “Unmasked”,700 Years of Oriental Carpets
Ford,P.R.J-A note on the so-called Chintamani design,in Lipton:The Tiger Rugs of Tibet
Hali Staff-Turkish Carpets in the Victoria & Albert Museum
Inalcik-Halil-The Yürüks-OCTS II
Ionescu,Stefano-Handbook of Fakes by Tuduc
Ionescu,Stefano-Anatolian Carpets Brukenthal National Museum
Ionescu,Stefano-Antique Oriental Rugs in Transylvania(AORT)
Ionescu,Stefano-Transylvanian Rugs in Mediash,Ghereh 50
Ionescu,Stefano-Anatolian Rugs from Transylvanian Churches-Ghereh 42
Kertesz-Badrus,Andrei-Türkische Teppiche in Siebenbürgen
Kertesz-Badrus,Andrei-The Transylvanian Carpet-OCTS III-1
Mackie,Louise-A Turkish carpet with Spots and Stripes,Textile Museum Journal,IV-3,1976
Pasztor,Emese-Ottoman Turkish carpets
Rageth,Jürg-A Selendi Rug,Hali 98-84
Sabanci University-In Praise Of God
Scarce,Jennifer-Romanian Pile Carpets,OCTS III-2
Schmutzler,Emil-Altorientalische Teppiche in Siebenburgen
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