Monday 21 October 2019

Red-Brown Anatolian Carpets


Hamdi Bey`s Turkish Street Scene(1) was acquired by Carl Humann,the discoverer of the Pergamon Altar,and presented to the National Gallery Berlin in 1888.The European buyers seem transfixed by a Caucasian Ordutch rug,but the real object of interest is an Anatolian carpet of the “Red-Brown” type,fixed to the wall.Such carpets were made in two styles,utilising a full field,or within an enclosed space delineating a medallion(2).


Two types of borders were employed(3)


The one,a palmette design turned laterally,was derived from earlier Ushak carpets,and appears in a group of three Ladik prayer carpets(4)


Brüggemann-Böhmer have sketched the ancestory of this design(5),and  an interim version can be seen on an Ushak medallion rug sold at Sothebys in 2006(6).



The design is best viewed from the side,as in a fragment once with Beau Ryan(7)


The second border design basically repeats the field.Originally drawn up for the great Cairene prayer rug now in the MAK,Vienna(8),it underwent a further transformation through the Transylvanian carpets.


Professor Alexander felt the motif originally depicted a rams-horn,although in Turkey it is known as "Kafale",and was described by Hubel as "birds in flight".This author has always favoured butterflies or moths.

Only one complete example of the Hamdi Bey rug seems to have survived(i.e with full field and palmette border)It was sold at Phillips in 1986 and described as Melas(9)


A large fragment was once with Frauenknecht,and published in Hali 5-2-176(10)


All  examples in this group appear to have been Divan rugs,or Portieres.Four are shown here,two having been sold at the Ronnie Newman sale,Skinners,in 2018.A third,once illustrated by Dr.Spuhler,was sold at Rippon Boswell in 2003,described as Konya.Pieces of this type have been attributed as far apart as Melas and Erzerum,some even having been placed in the Caucasus.A fourth rug was at offered at both Nagel and Mangisch,and seems mechanical by comparison(11)


Only three items with full field and Cairene border can be recorded here:a large expressive carpet once on ebay(12)offered by John Patterson.Like most of these carpets it features a small repeating design in the field,reminiscent of a Holbein medallion crossed with a Kepse-göl.


A carpet from M.Cattai has a peculiar field interpretation,and a cut and joined piece offered by Stephen Evans was acquired inexpensively at Skinner on 14 February 1992,Lot 43-for $880.(13)


A last item with full-field was in the Hubel Collection,now Munich,and employs a Konya prayer medallion border,a further indication for Konya as production center for these rugs(14)


Four examples with palmette border are known to feature the medallion-field style(15 and 16)



There seem to be no medallion-field rugs with a Cairene border,but four carpets employ a simplified Transylvanian-type cartouche border(17-19)

17-Textile Museum


19-Mirza Raffy sale,Andersen Galleries 1916

A related group,of which eight pieces are recorded here,derive their medallion design from an earlier group of Caucasian carpets,in turn generated by silk embroideries.A clear connection can be determined by the use of the palmette border in  two known examples,one of which was discovered in the Lala Mustafa Mosque, Erzerum(20)That carpet lacks the typical white dots in the large areas of white.A rug from the Marschall Collection,formerly with Ulrich Schürmann, was sold by the AAC in September 2014 for $14,245. 


Arguably the BOT in this area,and certainly highest seller at auction,the William Price carpet sold for $ 62,400 at Christies in December 2006.Runner-up is likely a piece sold at Christies in November 2014,which fetched $17,500.This had once been with Bud Holland and later, Mike Isberian.A third item is attributed to the "Trefoil" circle in California,and was previously sold at Lefevre`s on 26 November 1976(lot 42) for 1300 GBP.(21)


Another example at Lefevre`s in 1976 sold for 2600 GBP(21 May 1976,Lot 58)A more clotted version brought $5295 at Nagels on 11 September 2018-Lot 77.(22)


Sold at the Bernheimer sale on St.Valentine`s Day 1996 for $14,170(Lot 37) this fragment appeared again at Christies on 29 April 2004,where it brought $7,400(24).It is a sterling example,as a rough reconstruction shows.It utilises the available space to a maximum,without excessive use of amuletts.The four Harshang Lotus palmettes in the field are a characteristic,also found as an allover design in a few East Anatolian rugs.(24)



The origin of this particular medallion design can be seen in a Caucasian embroidery once in the Orient Stars Collection.A fragment found in the Hagia Sophia represents a transposition into knotted media.The smaller of two such medallion-pendant design carpets from the Kirchheim Collection show the design in its fully crystallised form.A carpet published by Eiland demonstrates the design as a Lori-Pambak,although that unique item is not one.(25)


One last member of the Large-Medallion group has an aberrant border derived from Ladik prayer carpets.(26)It finally sold,third time around,at the AAC on 19 November 2016-Lot 197,for $7880.It is a pretty,cleaned-up rug lacking the bizarre nature of its confreres,and due to the border employed, transitions neatly to a later,more formally organised and market oriented group.(27) 


Further correlation to the foregoing groups lies in the red-brown chroma,the apotropaic  obsession with amuletts,and the Transylvanian-style adaptation of a full-field medallion into a double-niche rug.The whiteground spandrels derive from a similar source.It is the same Gestalt as in plates 15-19.
The two carpets at auction in Plate 27 faired badly.The Christies rug appeared twice,in 2009 and 2013,failing to sell both times,at estimates ranging between $8000 and $18000.The Rippon Boswell carpet,which was published in the Austrian ICOC catalogue(29),found no buyer for an estimated.€ 17000.A rug published by Ertug(Anatolian Carpets,plate 15)was salvaged-surprise,surprise- from the Lala Mustafa Mosque in Erzerum.


Two carpets,squarer in shape,were published by the Parisian dealer Milani,and  by Lefevre.Interestingly,they employ both  the Full-Field and Medallion-Field of the earlier Cairene-style group.The Lefevre carpet,described as Konya,sold for 4500 GBP.(28)


In 1977 Kurt Zipper visited Cairo and photographed this classic example in the Islamic Musem.(29)


At  Rippon-Boswell on 25.5.2013,this item failed to sell against an estimate of 8000€.It seems to be the only known piece in the Divan format.(30)


Two sharings from facebook,presented by Krikor Markarian and Irene Langlands.(31)


A carpet with a classsic medallion woven on one of the darkest ground colours was found at the Ulu Jami in Divrigi.It employs a Caucasian style border and typical Caucasian-style palmettes.It is apparently woven with three wefts,as is the rug which Meyer-Pünter in 1917 described as "Yürük-Anatol",and attributed to the Reyhanli tribes living in Tale Amouk.The third carpet,sold at Christies in 2006 for $9000,may well be Central Anatolia,and is shown here for comparison.


Two rugs with Turkmen-style medallions which may have influenced a larger Caucasian group with "Animal-Göl" design.The left-hand piece was once in the Ankara Vakflar depot,and has been attributed to the area of Erzincan(as have many of the rugs published here)The second carpet appeared at Nagels in 1981,before being published by the German dealer Werner Brandl in Hali 68-146,1993(32A)


Another medallion group features two white medallions instead of one.The  BOT was found at Divrigi.Another excellent,fragmented example is in the Ethnographical Musem,Konya.A third rug went unsold at the AAC on 14 October 2017.A fourth rug was published on Facebook by Lamia Namouchi,and a fifth was published in the Milan ICOC catalogue,Tappeti Sovrani,plate 48.All items feature a palmette border and are likely to have been Divan carpets.(33)


Four more Divan rugs record a moving-away from the classic medallion design into uncharted territory,often displaying a central elongated medallion.An item from the American dealer Jeff Dworsky shows an uninhibited use of amuletts in the border;a carpet in Switzerland was an early  appearance in Hali 3-3;and a half at the AAC sold well for $6460.It had previously gone unsold at Rippon Boswell`s on 30 May1992-Lot 40.(34)


A remarkable Divan piece,related but so very different from the main medallion group,was sold at Nagel on 14 November 1997(Lot 122) for 7000 DM.It was later on offer with Merx.Another half at Sothebys in 1997 features a tulip-hyacinth border merging into a   Caucasian crab-flower.(35)


An industrialisation of the medallion group can be seen in the following.The rugs convey the feeling of having been "knocked out"Although routiniert,they are attractive enough examples.Christies 6 June 1989,Lot 84-sold for $5280;Hali 25-20-McCoy Jones Collection,De Young Museum San Francisco;AAC 2017,unsold.(36)


In apparently uncut condition;and from the dealer Murathon on rugrabbit(37)


Attributed to Erzincan by Nagel in 1988,and to the Shak Kurds by Daniel Auger on rugrabbit.(38)


More Strandgut from the internet,attributed to Erzincan ( from Teppich Carpet Antik) (39).


An eventual return to earlier times can be seen in the following three long rugs which display improvised Transylvanian-type designs.The first and third were both owned at one time  by David Halevim,the middle rug was once at Lefevre where it sold for a miserly 800 GBP.The first carpet,once with Bausback, sold at Rippon-Boswell in 1993 for $24,880:in 2001 at Christies Halevim Sale it brought $51,115.The third example was purchased at Lefevre on 27 April 1979 for 4400 GBP.(40)It connects up to a further group with solitary columns and typical East Anatolian apotropaic borders,such as one published by Brüggemann-Bohmer,and a second rug in the Material Culture auction from 24 February 2013,which fetched $3750.(41)A well-known rug published by Neugebauer was classified as a Ladik,but when it appeared at Sothebys on April 15 1993 it had become a Bergama,presumably because of its red-brown palette.(42)A last group of Column rugs have been classified as both Anatolian and Caucasian,and the design probably straddles both sides of the border.(43)





A note on the Genesis of medallion designs.

We have seen how the Red-Brown group of Medallion carpets derived from Caucasian embroideries via knotted intermediaries.The immediate progenitor is the smaller of the two "Seerose" carpets,which appeared out of nowhere at the Rugs as Art Auction,New York in 1973,possibly delivered by Abadjian.Its larger pendant had been in the Shefik Pasha Auction in 1931,and later with Arhan in Istanbul.The smaller carpet has a white cotton weft,the larger,brown woolen wefts.The presence of a Mujur border panel at the centre of both carpets has yet to be explained.(44,45)



46-the Seerose carpet

The process is often used to describe the ancestry of Lori-Pambak carpets,but they took a diffferent route.A Caucasian embroidery with Lori Pambak design is known.(47)


Carpets such as illustrated by Eiland,and indeed the Robinson-Gulbenkian,seem not to have gone into mass-production as did the Lori-Pambaks.(48,49)



The Bausback carpet,once with Joost Ritman and now Kaffel Collection,seems a Gala event which was not repeated.Its basic medallion outline is that of the "Sunburst" transitional carpets,such as were found at Divrigi.(50,51)



52-Lala Mustafa Mosque,Erzerum