Friday 3 January 2014

The Holbein-Lotto Family

The term "Holbein" makes its first print appearance in Werner Grote-Hasenbalg`s book of 1922.In 1935 Kurt Erdmann was still using it as a catch-all phrase to include the Lotto carpets. The names are inaccurate but have been around so long that it is probably better to keep them.Before examining the different groups,an effort will be made to list the existing types of Kufi borders.This was first attempted by Robert Pinner and Jackie Stanger in Hali 1-4(326)Both Holbein and Lotto carpets have been counted together,thus enabling  a view of the overlap between the two types.The “Seljuk” carpets with such borders have been dealt with elsewhere.(  Seljuk ) A monumental carpet discovered at Divrigi is an exception,two “Bellini”prayer rugs also have a Kufi border,and the Para-Mamluk Group will be dealt with separately.The Small Pattern Holbein carpets(“SPH")only use the Kufi border,apart from one carpet in Berlin.The Lotto carpets employ six Kufi variations.Others,as we shall see,were never used.The Lottos became increasingly adventurous in their choice of border design.

Type A Border.21 examples,19 SPH and 2 Lottos.Code-Name "Chainlink"



Type B Border.(Pinner Type C)23 examples,21(one fragment exists without field) SPH and 2 Lottos.Codename "sans chainlink"




The above shows the evolution of type A and B.The B type has lost the interlaced form and been replaced by a simple cross.

Type C Border.23 examples, 22 used only on Lotto carpets,and on the Bellini Prayer rug in Berlin.Code Name "Haring"



8-After Lessing

Scissor forms appear between the box elements,replacing the cross form.The double track support lines of the A and B borders have been replaced by a single interlacing line.

The line always runs around the inside of the border,except in the case of a fragment in the MacMullan collection,where the line passes along the outside


Type C1 Border.5 examples,3 Holbeins and 2 Lottos.This is the variation of the C Border used on Holbein carpets.Instead of the "scissor" shape,a double-ended volute appears,and the individual units are no longer connected by a single line.

10-From the Mediash Holbein

11-From the Philadelphia Lotto,Ellis Nr.7

Type D Border.(Pinner Type C2)Codename X-Box.12 examples,6 SPH,6 Lotto,+ 1 border fragment.


Type D1 Border, 3 examples,all SPH.This is a still connected form of the D Border.


Type E Border.Codename "4 Arrows"14 examples,12 Lottos,1 fragment and 1 SPH,plus one Bellini prayer rug and one carpet with "Lesghi" design.



A carpet in the Detroit Institute of Arts has not beeen fully investigated.Its true age is hard to estimate,but it appears to be the mother of all Lesghi-Star rugs.The star form appears to be a mutated Holbein Octagon

16-Gantzhorn ill.350

Type F Border.Pinner Type D+D2.Code name "Kochanak"These feature an extra border as seen on Turkmen carpets.There are three variations

17-The Budded Kufi

18-C Type -Haring Kochanak

19-Kufi Flower Kochanak

Type G Border.Pinner type A&B.2 examples,both Holbeins.Also used on 3 Para-Mamluk carpets.This is the noblest Kufi form,as depicted by Mantegna


  Jon Thompson has traced this design back to 14th century Persian Jalayarid paintings.(see Milestones)

Type H Border.4 examples.This rare border was the subject of an interesting reconstruction by Christina Klose(Carpets in the Iranian World,page 77)Sometimes called the "Timurid" border



Large Pattern Holbein(LPH) Kufesque Borders.8 examples.


The Divrigi carpet was discovered by Walter Denny and G.G Ellis in the Mosque of the town.Has been C-dated to the 14th century.

The two LPH("Large Pattern Holbein") carpets from Divrik and Cairo have similar Kufi borders,symmetrical in all directions



A two-medallion rug from Sion and another single medallion carpet in Istanbul have the F Border (budded Kufi)



The three wheeled LPH in Philadelphia uses a coarsened F Border Kufi Flower


and an LPH carpet in Istanbul shows a decorative move away from the epigraphic,albeit with interlacings


The Para-Mamluk carpets.

These reveal 3 types of border spread over  7 carpets.

The Chehel Sutun Prayer Carpet,the Doha Carpet and the Milestones fragment all employ the G Border

30-Chehel Sutun-Ganzhorn 215

The Philadelphia and Ellis/Wher/Tabibnia examples have an elaborate C Border with more sophisticated interlacings


Two Soumaks in the Textile Museum and the Hermitage will be placed,for convenience,in the Para-Mamluk category


The above is a variation on the G Border(Mantegna)but with interlaced double tracks.It appears only on the two soumaks and in an Altar  painting from 1503 by Francesco de Morone featuring an LPH



One solitary Lotto carpet is now in the Jaquemart-Andre Museum Paris and represents a simplification of the Kufi Flower Kochanak F Border


A similar border was illustrated by Lessing(Nr.20)where it is said to be located in the Church of Nazaro e Celso,dating to the late 16th Century


The well-known Mamluke fragment in the V&A Museum,London also features a variant of the G border.Original or pirate copy?

36-V&A,Gantzhorn 204

Two "Bellini" style prayer rugs also feature Kufesque borders. The famous Berlin carpet is an adroit production with classic green ground C Border

37-Beselin 127

Much rougher is a carpet once in the Wher Collection which was ultimately sold at the Davide Halevim sale for $117,090.Note the  miniature carpet in the top border.The Berlin rug has the typical border of the Small Medallion Ushaks,whereas the more archaic Wher/Halevim carpet has an SPH Quatrefoil,at which point Ushak and Konya(?)overlap.There are otherwise no classical Ushak carpets with a Kufi border.

38-Halevim Sale.Christies 14 February 2001(116)

To sum up briefly,the SPH carpets on a plain ground employ all borders from type A to H;those with a counterchange or checkerboard field use Borders A,B and D;the Lotto carpets use A to E.It may be that in the future the present scheme can be used to expose fakes.Stefano Ionescu revealed this in a Holbein carpet from Toronto


This niftily drawn item,first published in a Canadian rug catalogue in 1974,is actually an impossibility.There are no counterchange SPH carpets with the C or C1 border-the four known items are all on a plain ground.Presumably Mr Tuduc knew his Transylvanians very well!

 Part II

1 comment:

  1. I am new here. This is an impressive analysis! The rugs are beautiful and it's great to see so many examples side by side in good quality photos. Thanks!


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