Whereas the triple mihrab in the Mausoleum of Ikhwat Yusuf in Cairo may well have influenced the other members of this group
The above fragment was sold by Teodor Tuduc in 1956 to the National Art Museum of Rumania
and later reconstructed in OCTS VII.The fragment is on an all-wool foundation,as is its close counterpart in an Italian Collection
With its elegant upper dome and over-large niche lamp,this item sold at Sothebys London on 14 October 1981(Lot 113)for a paltry ￡3,520-one of the bargains of the century.All wool structure.
A marvellous piece of design is the TM`s Parokhet,or Torah Curtain,with a Hebrew Inscription from Psalm 118:"This is the Gate of the Lord through which the righteous enter"
Once in the Yerkes Collection,the Columns have taken on a festive,barber-pole character,and the tulip-carnation patch at the bottom of the field appears in full bloom.One large cup,quite blazon-like,adorns the field.The border appears in a reduced form,which however does not detract from the overall gaiety.Woolen structure.
The Sultan Ahmed Group.
|76-The Berlin fragment in a more sombre mood.|
The eponymous member being the carpet now in the Topkapi Museum,said to have been taken from the tomb of either Selim I or the II,although Sultan Ahmed ruled from 1603-17
The inspiration for the prayer arch is the great prayer rug in Vienna,although the spandrels have now become a halo,and the corner pieces are a quartered star medallion
|78-Textile Museum Corner Collage|
Secure technical information is only available for the Textile Museum carpet,which is all S-Spinning
The Textile Museum rug was first sold at the 1925 Benguiat Sale.lot 95(unillustrated)and was said to have come from a mosque in Southern Spain.
An ex-Bode piece in Berlin,purchased in 1877 has a corroded brown border
Characteristic for the group are the large floral chaplets in the field,and the last example has an accompanying design of Rosettes and Saz leaves borrowed from a group of Cairene rugs with this feature as a field design
The four rugs have surely all-wool structure with S-Spinning.
These are the weakest of all the Cairene prayer rugs.Perhaps also the latest.
The MAK Group.
Named for the example,once in possession of the Hapsburg Imperial Family,now museum of Applied Arts in Vienna
The horse-shoe arch was originally developed by the Western Visigoths for their churches,but attained full fruition in Moorish Spain
The field of the Vienna rug is strewn with Saz leaves,ascending Palmettes and tiny white Plum-blossoms.Two similar pieces are known
|84-Walters Art Gallery|
The Walters carpet has a similar border to the Blumenthal Medallion Carpet
in which a cloudband follows the same winding course between "cabbage-roses" as the Berlin-Vienna border fragments.
The Walters has an all-silk foundation with blue and white cotton,the McMullan carpet is all-silk,but without cotton.Compared to the Vienna example,the vegetation has become lusher,but the impact has begun to weaken.
A fragment in the Cleveland Museum of Art has the same border as the Hapsburg carpet,but the field cannot be reconstructed
|88-Hapsburg Prayer corner collage|
A similar design can be seen on a Persian plate dated 1563-64,now in the Islamic Museum Berlin.
|89-Gruber,Welt des Islam,page 163|
The other six examples of this group are derivative,the first two forming a pair
A Pineapple-Tulip border surrounds a field of Saz-Leaves,Palmettes,and Rosette Medallions.The corners are now filled with Star-Quatrefoils.
The Mikaeloff-Khalili carpet,with its dark-green ground,still hangs onto the Hapsburg design scheme,but the Saz-Leaves billow and bulge in the manner of a whole group of large decorative carpets to be encountered later
A venerable old example in the Bardini Museum was unknown to C.G Ellis when he wrote his essay in 1969
and a fragment illustrated by Troll in his "Damaskus-Teppiche" article from 1937 seems to stand right at the end of the development
Cairene prayer rugs rarely appear at auction,so it was with great interest that the last piece here appeared at Skinners in December 2007,to be sold for a rather disappointing $49,938.It went unreported by Hali,and has not been seen since.
|95-Skinners 12.2007-Lot 117(S-Spinning)|
An early depiction of a Saf is a painting now in the Al-Sabah Collection
|96-Kuwait National Museum|
One strange carpet,now in the Field Museum of Natural History,Chicago,features white cotton highlights and S-Spinning,plus a border found on the Berlin-MAK-Kestner Museum fragments
The arabesque spandrels are a geometricised rendition of those found in the synagogue prayer rug.
A further oddity was sold at Christies in 2011
|98-Christies 4 October 2011-Lot 101|
Crude in the extreme,the fragment`s importance was nevertheless recognised and it sold for $58,500.
THE MEDALLION CARPETS.
The Cairene Floral Carpets originated in an artistic milieu known as the Hatayi Style (Cathay Style),a combination of large (Persian)leaves and Lotus Palmettes(in themselves originally an Egyptian invention which traversed half the world before re-appearing in the Mediterranean Basin)Tulips,Hyacinths and Carnations are always on board.By the 1560`s this was in full swing,as some oft-cited examples show
|100-After Denny,Iznik Nr.73|
The Kaftan in the Topkapi Museum is realistically attributed to the reign of Bayazid or Mustapha,during the 1560`s.The bowl,now in the British Museum,is from the heyday of Iznik when the ovens and chimneys smoked night and day to feed the Royal appetite.A monument to Ottoman Corporate Identity is the Rustem Pasha Mosque in Istanbul.
Apparently much earlier is the tiled Mihrab from the Imaret Mosque in Karaman,said to be 15th century
The decorative Cairene carpets with their Saz leaves,palmettes and rosettes develop from the microcosm of the Hapsburg Prayer Rug
|104-Benguiat Sale 1925-Lot 9|
|107-Musee des Arts decoratifs|
|108-Pi-Bahran,Linjan,early 13th century|
There are two main types of Medallion design rugs,classified according to their evolution from either the field or border of the Hapsburg Prayer Rug.
Hapsburg Field Type.
The best of this type are connected through an underlying trellis,i.e they are spiral-vine carpets.This is not always obvious,and in the more prosaic examples the scrolling vines have been omitted and the Saz-forms simply placed onto the field.In fact the billowing feather-boa Saz forms are actually part of the scrolling vine system-they grow directly on top of it.Best of type is the mighty blue-ground example in the Musee des Art decoratifs,Paris,apparently one of only two blue-ground Cairene carpets,perhaps a nod in the direction of Persia?
Many of these carpets achieve epic proportions
The central medallions are either embellished with tulips or tiger-stripes.There seems no way to classify them through this.
A well known group of fragments is probably from a Large Saz Medallion carpet,the impetus for which can already be seen burgeoning in a 9th Century stucco Panel from the Jazira
|111-Museum of Islamic Art Doha|
|115-Sothebys 2 June 2010-Lot 37|
They are all woven on a silk foundation with white cotton highlights.The Sothebys item sold for $11,875.
End of the line is a piece in Göteborg
Hapsburg Field Type
Many medallion carpets were woven in 16th Century Persia,and a good number with Saz leaves,but a medallion carpet with Saz forms such as the Paris example is an Egyptian speciality.A certain amount of vectorisation cannot be excluded,although an exact parallel chronology is lacking.Is the Hapsburg Prayer older than the majority of Polonaise carpets?By a few decades perhaps.The following examples of Safavid weaving are presented for comparison.Interestingly,the first two pieces are silk Polonaise carpets,a convergence point reached by Ellis in 1969.
Note the spiral-vine tendrils and imagine them as billowing feather-boa Saz.
Another Polonaise carpet,one of the most elegant,is the Rainy Rogers,which does actually showcase Saz and Medallion
|118-The Rainy Rogers Polonaise|
|119-Benguiat Sale 1925-Lot 35|
The Saz leaves in the above carpet resemble the Egyptian models,as does the ascending "Spine" of Lotus-Palmettes.
A carpet in the Imam Reza in Mashad has a border vaguely reminiscent of the Hapsburg Prayer
The greatest of all sickle-leaf carpets is the Corcoran,whose mighty leaves swing like scythes.The "Spine" of the carpet with its amalgam of Lotus Palmettes went on to a 300 year career.The light-footedness of the Egyptians seems very far away.
The Hapsburg Border Type.
|121-Corcoran Art Gallery|
These medallion carpets are distinguished by their employment of the Saz-leaf forms found on the borders of the Hapsburg Prayer Carpet.The Saz-leaves are drawn in a more focussed way than in the previous group,often forming Quatrefoils in a complex field design
A carpet exhibited in Chicago in 1947 is notable for its blue ground and Chintamani medallions
|123-G.Cohen,Fascino 1983,plate XXVII|
Another example from the Rothschild Collection has exploding palmette spokes and rosette mandalas
A third example with interlocking Saz leaves and little or no trellis was once in the possession of Ulrich Schürmann,and exhibited at the 1978 Munich ICOC Exhibition
Burnt in Berlin 1945,Kurt Erdmann described the Dirksen rug as the most beautiful of type
Hapsburg Border type
Saz Rosette Type.
These carpets have rows of large rosettes placed prominently amongst the Saz leaves.Sizes are often large and relatively narrow.
|128-Yerkes-Ballard Collection-now MET|
|129-Ballard MET 2210056|
Two last carpets have a Spiral-Vine construction,but amateurish and quite unsuccessful
Saz Rosette Type
Four and One Medallion Group.
|132-V & A-491-1899|
With rosette medallions arranged as on a dice-cube.There may be more rosettes hidden in the field.
The above sold at R&B`s on 17 November 2001-Lot 63,for $74,580.Ex Baron Tucher,ex Judge Gary,previously sold at Lefevre on 25 May 1984.With the Pineapple and Tulip border,see Hali 121-133.
The above from the Ballard Collection,now online,but an adequate colour reproduction is lacking.With an unusual 8-pointed central medallion.Note the interlocking Saz leaves.
The above sold at the Kevorkian sale,Sothebys London in december 1969 for ￡1250,and again at Sothebys New York on 7 April 1992 for $ 66,000.See Hali 63-131.
Quartered Medallion Group
Most of the last type have an inkling of corner medallions,but the last major group features quartered medallions in the corners
Head and shoulders above all others in its group,the Kevorkian carpet was first auctioned at the 1925 Benguiat Sale and eventually went to the Wher Collection(or "Siesta" Collection according to Broniman)Technical information is not available,but it may have a silk foundation.It has the same high quality corner solutions as the Hapsburg Prayer,plus interlocking Saz leaves.
|137-Kevorkian corner collage|
Frequently published is the ex-Bernheimer piece
The Bernheimer has been auctioned twice:at Christies London on 14 february 1996(Lot 83) for $78,540,and again at Christies London on 29 April 2004(Lot 101)for $59,225.Now in Doha.
Two other members of this group both feature a Pineapple-Tulip border and a "notched" medallion
The above sold at Sothebys on 13 December 1986 for $13,200
So much blue is unusual and pleasing in a Cairene carpet
Corner Medallion Type
The eight pieces in this group are of outstanding quality.
The Blumenthal carpet in the Metropolitan Museum New York is a reprise of the Hapsburg Prayer rug
This large carpet(18.8 x 11.3 feet)is not even woven on a silk foundation,yet has real Court attitude.The above pictured medallion is about as close as anyone ever came to reproducing one of Amy Brigg`s Timurid Göls
And the Shahname illustration from 1429
had already been anticipated in 11th Century Fatimid Kairouan
|147-Painted ceiling in the Great Mosque at Kairouan,11th Century-after Blair|
Another masterpiece,now unfortunately lost to us,was burnt in the carpet inferno of Berlin 1945
With its medallions formed into a lattice of diagonally placed tiger-stripes,this carpet has no existing counterpart,thus "its complete destruction is a bitter loss"(K.Erdmann).However the design went on to a further career in the 18th/19th century,again demonstrating the influence of Egypt upon Persia
|149-F.R Martin-Naesby House|
The Naesby House rug is dated 1806.A further example surfaced in the Munich trade
|150-E.Herrmann ATT 4-64(sold Sothebys 10 April 1997)|
There are many village versions of this too,Persian dealers have christened the design"kebab"
|151-Nagels 29 April 1998-Lot 56|
Already mentioned,the Chintamani lattice carpet in the Grassi Museum Leipzig is still awaiting publication by Hali
|152-Das Wiener Werk|
A second carpet from the Blumenthal Collection in New York uses the same notched medallion as the Ryksmuseum corner solution
|154-Blumenthal Collection,now MET New York|
It shares a common border with the Chintamani carpets and a delicate field of lotus palmette tracery often attempted in Ushak,but rarely achieved.
An allover medallion carpet once in the possession of Prince Paar employs a medallion used on the large Blumenthal carpet,also with big Saz forms.It has only been published once in colour,by Arthur von Scala in 1908
A fascinating carpet from the 1925 Benguiat Sale shows allover-Quatrefoils and a series of"substrate" cross-like medallions.It has since disappeared
|156-Benguiat 1925 Lot 63|
Discovered by Albert Boralevi in 1983,the Pitti Palace carpet entered service as a gift in 1623 and was described in an inventory as a "Cairino"
This impressively monotonous carpet weighs in at 3,30 x 9.95 metres(!)and was exhibited at the Hayward Gallery during the London ICOC in 1983,but also-alongside a Mamluke carpet-in the Pitti Palace in 2002
|158-Islamic Art VI-Bruschettini Foundation|
Proof indeed that the Cairene carpets constitute a "Mamluk Baroque"
Small Saz-forms as allover-Quatrefoils feature on a three-medallion carpet auctioned at Sothebys New York on 3 December 1988 for $93,500.It went unsold some years later at Christies London,on 19 April 1993,after reaching a miserly ￡22,000
The next group of carpets features an allover Saz design with a centralised Quatrefoil
The appearance of three such carpets at auction in 2003 was a special treat
|161-Christies London 1 May 2003-Lot 29 |
Lot 29 and 30 each sold for ￡11,950.The carpets were said to have been sourced in Florence.
This group repeats the Hapsburg Border Medallion carpet design,but without the medallion.
A less common medallion-less Saz group features the large feather-boa Saz leaves
|164-De Young Museum|
There is always the possibility that the above has lost a central medallion.Many of the carpets illustrated here,as with so many other Classical examples,have at one time or another been re-configured.
Saz without Medallions
Three further carpets share the same scarab-like border with different field designs.A carpet in the V&A,on a silk foundation and with a repeat design taken over from the Hapsburg prayer was considered by Walter Denny to be amongst the oldest of all Cairene-Ottoman carpets
|165-von Scala 1908-nr.23|
A similar rug,known only from three fragments,is another piece with an ornate Mamluk border,but shares the Quartrefoil-Cartouche Medallion field of the MAK-Berlin Kestner rugs
|167-Hali 4/1-1981,page 56|
|168-Sothebys 14 September 2001-Lot 1|
The above fragment,from the Wher Collection,sold for $3000.
A further carpet with the same border was sold a number of times in the last few years(Christies 13 April 2000;Sothebys 4 April 2001;and Bonhams 27 September 2005)It combines the cartouche border with a Saz-rosette field,and demonstrates the inherent difficulty in categorizing these carpets through field design alone.
Runners or fragments?
|169-Bonhams Moheban Sale 27 September 2005-Lot 2133|
Three carpets have a runner format
|170-Jacquemart Museum Paris|
|171-Wulff Collection nr.19|
The Wulff piece has been woven in the width,perhaps the Paris piece too.The Textile Museum example appears to have been woven lengthwise.
Two other fragments are in "runner form",but they may also be part of the MAK-Berlin Kestner fragment family(although the Textile Museum piece illustrated above apparently is not)
|174-Sothebys 20 September 2006-Lot 42|
The above sold for $ 45,360.
A third fragment comprising two large border pieces sewn together is the Goldschmidt carpet,last shown at the ICOC Exhibition in Munich,1985
There are five "shaped" carpets which were made as table covers.Most well-known are the San Gimignano and V&A pieces
The San Gimignano piece employs the concept of a rug-within a rug;the middle piece appears to have been lain on top,and the borders continue beneath it.The effortless transition between field and border is typically Cairene.The London rug is a more aristocratic production.
A foto demonstrates such a rug in situ
But the cruciform shape is clearly not unintended.
One round carpet is known,now in the Corcoran Gallery
|179-Valentiner-Early Oriental Rugs 21|
which was recently part of another post here
Two fragments round off this selection
The fragments from the Ca D `Oro appear to be two reconfigured side-flaps(size 125 x 130 cms)
The Berlin fragment is an interesting example of the Fusion Group with a characteristic amalgam of Mamluk and Ottoman Floral design.
The structure of Cairene and Mamluk carpets is identical,as a comparison of photos of both (from Kühnel-Bellinger) demonstrates.
Direct scans of two Cairene rugs demonstrate the delicacy of weave
Just as an "International" carpet style existed,so too did its accompanying International Structure:4-Ply cotton warps and a three-shoot weft.The Egyptian weavers wove some of the largest all-wool carpets ever made:sizes up to 10 metres are on record.With a woolen warp this is no mean feat,and why they never took up the use of cotton has yet to be explained.The wool would have come from Bedouin fat-tailed sheep,of which there are three kinds: Rahmani,Osseimi,and Barki,which then as now were bred in the Western desert.A lack of white wool led presumably to the limited colour palette of the Mamluk carpets,but sharp dyes such as Lac and Dyer`s Weld,when applied to light-brown or grey wool yield pleasant pastel shades.
Perhaps the use of a woolen warp is a clue to the original creators of the Mamluk carpets in the 15th century.From a Central-Asian background,they never made the jump to classical cotton-based technology.Why should they have?their working methods were perfect,resulting in a paper thin but extremely durable fabric.
Designs moved around the Mediterranean.An Ushak carpet in the V&A spearheads a group utilising the Cairene repertoire
A piece sold at Finarte`s in 2003 combines all design elements in a highly successful way
|188-Finarte 18.11.2003-Lot 59|
Although it is hard to say how old the Finarte piece is,there is no mistaking the elegant brute force of the Ballard Star-Ushak variant,which is much earlier but curiously parallel
|189-Ballard Collection St.Louis|
Commenting on the Kevorkian medallion carpet,Hali`s house expert had the following to say:
Such carpets were the progenitors of the Herati design as we know it from the 20th century.A trans-national carpet chronology pinpointing influence and development between the major production areas is a project which will surely concern carpet researchers in the years to come.Taking the Persianate Red ground Florals as a starting point for the "Spinal"Saz and Lotus Palmette Gestalt,then a carpet such as the Rothschild would have led to the creation of the Hapsburg Prayer rug via a fragment such as the Grassi carpet and its direct descendents
|192-Grassi Museum Leipzig|
An example formerly in Düsseldorf demonstrates the compression of separate elements
The Herati finally emerges in Khorasan at the beginning of the 19th century,in the form which has come down to us through countless re-incarnations
|194-Sothebys April 1983-Lot 390-dated 1806|
|195-Christies 1 November 1995-Lot 37-dated 1807|
Between the late Cairene and early 19th century Khorasan carpets exists a hiatus of approximately 150 years.
The final crystallisation appears at the beginning of the 20th century in a kind of "machine-gun Herati"pattern
The Cairene carpets are unthinkable without the Lotus symbol,an ancient Egyptian device which occurs in virtually all classical carpets of the last 400 years,and whose basic symbolism-even for those who had never seen the original-was perfectly clear:a plant whose quotidian ascent and flowering mirrored the inexorable path of the sun.
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