Saturday 4 August 2012

A Group of Caucasian Carpets with Book-Cover Design

Since its publication in 1976,the Markarian Prayer rug with Medallion and Pendant design has assumed an iconic status.

Suitably dated 1857,the remaining examples of this group with a prayer design represent a downwood spiral.

2-Nagels 291-164


The Nagel`s carpet seems replete with synthetic dyes,and the Dehati example may even be a modern carpet,as it is so exactly like the Markarian.However the copyist seems to have run out of energy at the field-top,having been unable to imitate the inscription.

A characteristic of these carpets is the frequent use of Boteh motifs,and three examples have a typical  Kazak S-Meander border.



6-Private Collection

The "pinwheel"arms above or below the central medallion are a transfer from the non-prayer examples.

7-Sotheby`s 1985


The ultimate degeneration can be seen in pieces lacking the Pendants.

9-Hali 3-3-20

Non-Prayer Examples.

At least 11 examples are known,of which the two most prominent were the Herrmann and Battilossi examples.

10-SOT 7-30
Herrmann was unable to decipher the inscription,but it seems to be an improbable 1222,i.e 1807.Perhaps 1907 would be nearer the mark.The lined-up Botehs are typical.


Less remote are two further examples,ex-Tony Hazeldine,and a piece currently available on Rugrabbit.


13-Chris Hunt

Photo Gallery

As with the prayer rugs,weaker pieces lose their pendants and become simplified medallion carpets.An example from the Ulmke Collection is typical.

Photo Gallery

There are many Caucasian versions of the medallion-pendant theme,but leaving aside the obvious Persianate models,here are some more of interest:

The animal medallion group has its pendants buried amidst a field of Memling Guls,and in fact if the large medallion is removed,one is left with a standard allover Memling design.

16-RB 31-128
Mention should be made of the Caruso-Rudnick,still bearing vestiges of the Lotus Palmette.

17-Hali 79-72
A small group made famous by McMullan:

18-Hali 44-11-Herbert Ostler
Two models with 8-pointed star medallions are interesting in comparison to the Markarian prayer rug.

19-Sothebys 7.4.1992-51
The pincer arms are identical to those on the Markarian.An older piece clearly demonstrates that the medallion appendages are in fact split-palmettes from the classical Safavid repertoire.

20-Christies 13.6.1983-69(later Herrmann)

Peter Bausback`s mighty Lori Pambak from 1983 cannot be overlooked:

21-Bausback 1983-47
It`s predecessors have survived the accidents of time:

22-Rugs as Art 4.2.1973-120

23-Yetkin 101

And finally,a piece which is either 18th century or an extraordinary atavism:

24-Sotheby`s 11.6.2008-66

The origins of the medallion pendant design are obscure.No one can say when it first emerged,although its origins in book jacket design seem to derive from border illustrations in early Korans. Crystalised models appear in Korans of the Baghdad school,which also influenced contemporary Mamluke artisans.Tooled-leather covers are robust,surviving when pergament or paper have perished.Their shape and convenient size made them ideal blueprints for carpet design. Once thought to be a Safavid invention,they are now known to be much older,appearing on carpets in 15th century miniatures.The design was presumably tried out much earlier,in textiles.If Raby`s  15th century dating for the earliest LMU`s(Large-Medallion-Ushaks)is correct,which is not outlandish considering the veritable age of the Ottoman dynasty,then Medallion-Pendant carpets were certainly produced contemporaneously under the Turkmen rulers of East Anatolia and West Iran.The whole developement could not have by-passed Persia,and is another ground for proposing the 15th century origins of some NW Persian carpets.

A medallion may be depicted with two attached pendants,or with the pendant separated and presented in tandem(i. the Turkmen carpet)

What we see now are fragments of the exploded Timurid Galaxy.

The intimate connection between the art  of the carpet and the art of the book.

25-Herat 1438

26-Bernheimer sale 82



29-Baghdad 1286

30-Cairo 14th century

31-Jalayrid 14th Century

32-Shirvan 15th century

33-Timurid,15th century

34-Bukhara or Herat,16th Century

35-from Oljaitu`s Koran

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