Variations of Medallion and Star Uşak Carpets

Variations of Medallion and Star Uşak Carpets

One of the variations of the medallion Uşak carpets in the Museum of Art, Philadelphia, shows the medaİlions with two different endlessly repeated fillings arranged in offset rows. The composition clearly emphasizes this continuum. The oldest example of this type was in the Museum of Islamic Art, Berlin, but unfortunately it disappeared during the war. But recently up to twenty-five similar carpets have been discovered in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, İstanbul.Another variant group is related to the Star Uşak carpets. İn these carpets four diagonal cartouches move out from the central octagonal section. The pattern consists of alternate and staggered rows of large and small stelate diamond shaped medallions and square cartouches. The most outstanding carpet of this type is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Other examples are to be found in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the Vakıf Museum, İstanbul. İn a small carpet with a red ground in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, İstanbul, the central medallion is framed by a square from the corners of which large palmettes derive. The half diamonds above and below are typical of Uşak carpets. The shape of the star medallion and the geometric lines help to date this carpet to the 18th century.

A different group of carpets from the 17th century having characteristic borders with Chinese clouds and a field design of floral motifs and lozenges is also attributed to the Uşak region. A most distinctive example of this type was in the Museum of Islamic Art, Berlin, previously, but it was destroyed in the Iast war. A later sample is in the Kunstgewerbe Museum, Hamburg.

Starting in the 15th century Chinese cloud motifs began to appear especially on Uşak carpets. Two unique Uşak carpets consisting of a central composition made up of Chinese cloud motifs and dating to the 17th century are to be found in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, İstanbul. The first of these carpets has on a central field of red, eightpointed star medallions outlined in twisting Chinese cloud light and dark blue contours. These form large diamonds around the medallions. Yellow wavy branches and yellow hyacinth like flowers interweave between the diamonds in an endless pattern.

The second carpet has a buff field in which multi colored Chinese cloud motifs are arranged similar to those on Holbein carpets. The central composition is made up of alternating rows of diamonds and octagons in red, white, dark blue and green. A stylistic dragon figüre is formed around the gül motif by green white and red cloud motifs. This Uşak carpet with its characteristic intertwining border of curved stems and mixed rumi shows its Türkmen origin and its dating to the 1700s.

Among the different types of the Uşak carpets is an unusual piece from the 17th century which shows a pattern of red, blue and white circles set one above the other. İt resembles the Türkmen and the Yörük (nomad) carpets of the outlying area of Central and western Anatolia. The border of the carpet with twisted branches and double rumis is a typical Uşak. Two pieces with white fields are seen in the Museum of Islamic Art, Berlin, and in a collection in Switzerland. Another half-carpet that shows a pattern with blue palmettes on a red ground and white and yellow twisted rumis has survived. This carpet which can be dated to the beginning of the 18th century has an outer border reminiscent of the Kufic with cartouches forming a continuation of the Holbein type carpets. The inner border bears the characteristic Caucasian features.


Another carpet from the 18th century with red ground shows a very different pattern with the arrangement of the stylized motifs of the yellow trees in rows containing hooks on both sides with dark blue small palmette fillings between them. İt forms a pattern of a lozenge. On the trees are fillings of very fine scenes of stylized animal combat. This carpet that is dated to the end of the 18th century can be related to the Yörük carpets.

A related variant Uşak carpet of the 19th century is to be found in a private collection in Washington, D.C. This carpet was published by Walter Denny in 1979 in a Smithsonian Institution exhibition as a south-east Caucasian carpet (2.47×1.07 m). Except for its border, its similarity to the 16th century

Uşak carpets is obvious. Another Uşak carpet with red ground with floral motif s arranged in a lozenge pattern comes from the end of the 17th century.

Next to these developments of the late period two small carpets from the 16th century showother examples of the rich variety from the Uşak area. The first of them is in the form of a rectangle with a plain, dark blue ground. Its plan is original. The border is very different with red geometric, twisted branches and stylized flowers resembling a hyacinth on a yellow ground. Very Iittie has remained from the outer borders that contain flowers and leaves.
The second carpet shows the type of Uşak with double niches. İn its center is a large blue oval medallion on a red ground. İt is filled with rumis and palmettes. The corner fillings on a pink ground are decorated with stylized flowers. The border which contains large floral motif s and clouds has a black ground.

Uşak Carpets with a White Field

Two distinctive groups of carpets are attributed to the Uşak region because of their designs and the technigues of weaving. These are carpets with fields of white andsoft ivory and borders with Chinese cloud motifs and palmettes. They are better known as “Bird” and “Qintamani” (Chinoiserie) carpets and date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. The main design, that of two leaves facing each other, at first glance appears to be a motif reminiscent of birds, a misconception perpetuated in the name. Here we have a geometric composition, a contradiction for an Uşak carpet, but the designs are completely floral in character and are placed among rosettes and flowers.
Two-niched Usak carpet, end of 16th

Very significant examples of the “Bird” carpets are in the museums of Konya and İstanbul, but in addition they can be found in abundance in private collections and in other museums ali over the world.

The third white ground carpet is small in size, and displays a pattern derived from that of the first Holbein type. The field is divided into squares, each filled with red rosettes, while the dark blue quarter diamonds in the corners form a total lozenge motif. The designs are connected to each other by slender stems. The typical border with its huge stylized clouds and braided motifs is enriched by the placement in the field of rosettes in between the clouds. This carpet can be dated to the end of the 17th century.

If we take our cue from European paintings, we must assume that these carpets first appeared in the first half of the 16th century and continued until the middle of the 17th. The following examples typify the extent of the variety and the dates of these depictions. Such a composition appears in a fresco painted on the ceiling of the Royal Palace in Munich by Peter Candid in  1587, although the details of the designs are not clearly stated. We can also find the names of carpets with a white ground in earlier dated inventories of Archduke Ferdinand of Tirol in 1571-72, of Emperor Maximilian II in 1578 and of Queen  Elisabeth  of France (and wife  to Philippe II) in 1545-1568. A painting with a “Bird” carpet spread on a table, which is in the collection of Lazaro in Madrid and another one attributed to the Clouet School are both undated but they might be copies of older originals. Considering the shape of the helmet and armor in the picture, both could be dated to somewhere between 1560 and 1570. İn Berlin is an elegantly drawn picture depicting a  sophisticated type  of carpet which is notable because the year 1610 is woven into the carpet in a chronogram. A carpet similar to these is in Stockholm in the pri­vate collection of Lundgren. İt bears the coat ofarms of Jan Andrzej Prochnicki, the Bishop of Lemberg (1614-1633) woven just in the middle of the carpet. İn the gallery of the Hermitage Museum, Leningrad, “Bird” carpets are depicted with extreme accuracy in the pictures painted by Alessandro Varotari around 1625. An inscribed date of 1646 appears on a small carpet in the Transylvanian church of Schassburg.

Bird carpet, 17th c; from the McMullen Collection in Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

A smaller group than the white field Uşak carpets is that with spots and stripes reminiscent of leopard and tiger skins which is des-ignated as “Qintamani”. İn these a design of three leopard dots and two tiger stripes is repeated in blue, red and yellow throughout the field. İt is interesting to note that in the 16th and 17th centuries fabrics with the same design were used to make caftans for the Ottoman Sultans. Some of the “Qintamani” carpets were woven in tremendous sizes. Examples of these carpets can be found in the museums of istanbul and Konya, in the Museo Bardini, Florence, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in the Philadelphia Museum and in various private collections.

The next two examples we will qite are ali included in the collection in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, İstanbul. They show the variety and uniqueness of the Uşak carpet group. The first is a large carpet dating from the end of the 16th century. Here the field is red, the tiger stripe yellow and the leopard dots blue, and the border is extremely wide. The second carpet is a very long one and is dated to the 18th century. A blue hooked single tiger stripe is filled with red and yellow on a brown field; there are also three leopard dots in white with yellow and red centers. The tiger stripe almost resembles a bug with its four arms projecting from the top and bottom. The geometric wide yellow border is filled with stylized tulip, carnation, pomegranate and hyacinth flowers emerging from blue colored thick spiral stems. Very stylized small animal figures are placed in pairs on both ends of the long side. The natural brown wool of the field has been extremely worn by time.

A carpet with three leopard dots and double tiger stripes in red on a dark blue ground in the Vakıflar Carpet Museum, İstanbul, shows the continuation of this type in the 19th century. Only here the pattern of a skin is mixed with a central medallion which disturbs the harmony. The border with its geometric form points to a late period.

Without a doubt the Uşak carpets constitute the second brilliant period of the Anatolian carpet tradition, a period extending from the 16th to the end of the 18th century. As a group they started to degenerate and show signs of retrogression by the end of that period but nevertheless they did not disappear because very degenerate samples of some types have lasted until the present time.

Bergama Carpets

Geometric designs and highly stylized floral motifs used in accord with the lines of geometric patterns were common in the Bergama carpets that developed from Type III and Type IV of the Holbein carpets. One of the most prominent of these displays a pattern grouping where two or three squares of equal size, lined up one above the other, fiil the ground across the carpet. The squares contain central octagons, or sometimes hexagons, filled with triangles. A different type displays a grouping of small octagons around the mid octagon thus producing the main motif. Rectangular and square frames were not used in the beginning. Later stylized animal figures began to appear. Stars and square motifs were also used in these carpets. The Bergama carpets, of which the oldest examples date from the 16th century, have perpetuated many patıerns and Kufic borders of the Selquk carpets. From the earliest 16th century examples, it is obvious that Bergama carpets and prayer rugs have continued to carry the motifs and particular colors used on the Selquk carpets, namely buff, natural white, two different red, blue, brownish green and brown, and often with two shades of the same color side by side. This continues even today. The cerpets display both geometric and strong stylized plant motifs side by side, ones often echced appropriately in the borders. After the 19th century these motifs were of naturalistic flowers and leaves. The reappearance of small animal figures in the 18th century on the Bergama carpets attests also to their relationshif. to former animal-figured carpets.

Palace Carpets