Anatolian Rugs in Transylvanian Churches, 1500-1750
exhibition at the Sakip Sabanci Museum, Emirgan, Istanbul
19 April to 19 August 2007


The Bode Ogival Medallion Ottoman Niche Rug
Cairo, second half of the 16th century
124 x 174 cm, wool pile on a wool foundation
Museum of Islamic Art, Berlin, inv. no. KGM 1877, 321


The patterns in the corners of this rug are best understood if they are interpreted as quarter-medallions, which could then be extrapolated to complete the full medallions. Similar forms can be seen on Usak carpets. The field composition, of a large medallion surrounded by small rosettes, may share a common heritage with a well-known medallion design seen on several of the Transylvanian church rugs from west Anatolia. The 'tulip and pomegranate' border design on this Bode rug can be seen not only on other Cairene carpets but also on a number of the church rugs, in particular one in the Christian Museum in Esztergom. Five other Cairene rugs similar to the Bode are known, with an elongated oval central medallion with pointed ends, but without the flowers filling the rest of the field. The finest-woven of these, in the Topkapi Palace Museum, is thought to have been the prayer rug of Sultan Ahmed I. A Cairene rug with a similar border is depicted in a painting of The Annunciation, circa 1600, by Luis Finson.

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text and images © Sakip Sabanci Museum, Istanbul
and textile-art, London, 2007:
not to be reproduced without permission