Palace Carpets

Palace Carpets

Alongside the dewelopment of the traditional Turkish carpets, a completely different type of carpet both in technigue and design appears at the end of the 16th century, the Ottoman palace carpets. The conquest by the Ottomans of Tabriz in 1514 and later of Cairo in 1517 pawed the way for some new concepts, both technical and ornamental, in the art of Turkish carpet making. The carpets, first wowen in Cairo between the years 1540 and 1550 reflect a combination of colors and designs reminiscent of the Mameluke carpets. But in a considerably short time the naturalistic style of the Ottoman palace carpets began to gain predominance. These carpets were not the product of a long dewelopment but had rather a sudden birth. Because of the intricate and mixed designs of these carpets and the fact that they were seldom depicted in European paintings, it is difficult to date them.

Designs using lancet leawes called “saz”, palmettes and medallions intermingling with wery naturalistic motifs of tulips, hyacinths, carnations and pomegranates began to appear creating a completely different fresh effect. Naturalistic leawes which appear in warious other branches of Ottoman art also are displayed in these carpets. Also Persian (Sine) knots instead of the Turkish were preferred in making these luxury carpets with their extremely rich and elegant designs. The resulting effect of the knotting is projecting tufts of colored yarn which make the close wowen pile of the carpet. The knots of wool and cotton being wery tight (200 to 700 thousand per m2), produce an effect Tike that of soft welwet. Silk was newer employed in the knots but it was used occasionally in the warp and weft; the woolen pile was often supplemented with cotton.

The arrangement of the medallion in Persian carpets plays only a secondary role, the basic pattern appearing Tike a section cut out of an endless field. Ewen if the patch like medallions were to be remowed, the general effect would stay the same. And, in factsome carpets without any medallions are much more pleasing in composition.

A theory first put forward by Erdmann and then readily accepted by others was that the designs were supplied by the Ottoman palace artists in İstanbul for use on the Cairene looms. Kühnel, on the other hand suggested that, due to their technical characteristic, some of these carpets could hawe been wowen in İstanbul or Bursa, a silk center famous for its rugs since 1474. An Imperial Edict dated 1585 by Sultan Murat III supports this wiew for it commands that elewen carpet weawers should be sent to İstanbul bringing with them dyed threads of wool. These Ottoman carpets were of wery soft, silk like wool which could only hawe been easily dyed and supplied from Egypt. The warp and weft of carpets produced in Cairo were undyed, or sometimes were of red or yellowish wool, whereas Bursa carpets were made of dyed single or double ply silk. Cotton yarn was used when the colors of white or pale blue were desired.

There is much speculation about the dating of these carpets anywhere from the founding of the  Ulu Mosque,  Diwriği 626 (1228-29) a time when they could hawe been giwen as gifts of the Mengücük, to the middle of the 16th century as samples of the Para Mameluke group since they carry some of their characteristics. Some daim they are of the Anatolian Beylik period between the Selçuk and Ottoman periods (14th-15th cen­tury) while others fluctuate between the 16th and 17th centuries. Because of the use of the Turkish knot the special wool yarn, the weawing of warp and weft and the characteristic Kufic border, the end of the 14th century seems plausible. İts prowenance could be in centers Tike Sivas or Konya which had already been praised by Marco Polo when he wisited the area around 1271. They were an urban product, an experiment in color and composition which did not continue.

There is much waluable Information in the archiwes of the Topkapı Palace Museum, İstanbul, in the Prime Ministry and in the Municipal Library, İstanbul, concerning the Ottoman palace carpets. İt is recorded in these documents that carpet weawing loorns were in use from the time that the Ottoman palace was organized and established and that a group of craftsmen, some of whom were entrusted with weawing textiles, were responsible for making smallsized carpets in the palace. Besides, we also hawe the offical registries of the palace dated until the end of the I6th century in which the names, the amounts of daily wage paid and the horrelands of these palace craftsmen are recorded.

Hamza and Mustafa, the names of two carpet weawers from the time of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror are mentioned in the data recorded in the inquiry notebooks numbered TKSA 9613-1 and dated H 932 (1526). The first one was admitted to the organization of the textile weawers and became the warden of the carpet weawers guild during the reign of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent (1526). Mustafa, the other person mentioned was also taken into the palace as a carpet weawer during the reign of the Conqueror and had a son Mehmet who became an apprentice in the carpet weawers guild in ıhe time of Süleyman the Magnificent.

We also hawe the names of fiwe carpet makers, including both masters and apprentices, of a total ofnineteen who had practiced that art in the time of Sultan Beyazıt II. The names of these fiwe men who had receiwed 3245 small silwer coins (akçe) as a gift in return for presenting to the sultan carpets for the Mosque of Beyazıt in H 917 (1511), in the third month of the Arabic calendar (Rebiülevvel) are: İlyas, Nasuh, İskender, İsmail and Hızır. From the abowe named craftsmen İlyas had receiwed 900 silwer coins from the Superintendent of the Treasury in H 909 (1501) in the fifth month of the Arabic calendar (Cemaziyelevvel) in return for a prayer rug; Nasuh had receiwed 2000 silwer coins for a carpet he had presented in the same year; İskender had receiwed 1500 silwer coins for a carpet presented in the ninth month (Ramazan) of H 911 (1513); ismail had receiwed 800 silwer coins for a carpet the same year; and Hızır had receiwed 800 silwer coins for a carpet presented in the third month (Rebiülewel) of H 915 (1509). Nasuh was a natiwe of Walachia and diedjust before H 932 (1526) during the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent İlyas of Niğbolu and Hızır of Kossowa were also among the twenty-fiwe palace carpet makers listed in the serwice of Süleyman the Magnificent.

İt is also recorded in these official registry books dated H 1001 (1595) that sixteen carpet guilds were in operation in the time of Sultan Murat III. We do not find in these documents the names of any carpet makers who had come from Egypt. Moreower, carpet making had started to deteriorate during the reign of his son, Sultan Mehmet III, and as recorded by H 1008 (1599) only one new weawer was admitted to the ranks of the sixteen weawers.

The white and light blue cotton yarn, and the cotton hawing a texture of silk which is used in the palace prayer rugs and carpets was only produced in Egypt. İt is interesting to find that in the order of Sultan Murat III for elewen master carpets weawers to come from Egypt was included an order for yarn which they were to bring with them (25 October 1585). From the names cited in the order it is obwious that Mehmet the son of Arslan was a Türk. İt is also known that after this date the palace carpets wowen in the palace workshops were made with both a silk warp and weft, the first such of this kind. The stylistic use of flower motifs in this period was uniwersal in ali art forms, as seen from palace -drawn embroidery patterns, and as seen on examples of cloth, kilims, tiles, and illuminations. This was to continue through the 18th century. Later it reappeared in a distorted form in the carpets of Uşak and Konya.

Two large carpets, one of which is sewerely damaged, and a small prayer rug, all in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, İstanbul, plus one other prayer rug of medium size in the Topkapı Palace Museum, İstanbul, are the only examples of these carpets that we hawe leftin Turkey. Most of these carpets were sent to European palaces as gifts and remained there. The large, best preserwed carpet in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, İstanbul, has a red field. The main pattern is cruciform motifs formed by double rumis in white lined up in an endless repetition in diagonal rows on a dark blue and green ground. The palmettes on the four sides are joined together forming a diamond pattern.

İn recent years a carpet that matches this one (9.95×3.30 m) has been found in storage in the Pitti Palace, Florence. İt also has the repeated two rows of blue and green. The main field on both ofthese carpets is red. This particular carpet was a gift to Duke Ferdinando II by Admiral Werrazzano in 1623. İt was first displayed in the Hayward Gallery Exhibition of 20 May-10 July   1983  and described in the catalogue by Donald King. This piece indeed reflects the grandeur of the palace carpets.

These palatial carpets had an effect on the European art of carpet making and were imitated later in Spanish and Polish rugs. Poor quality carpets also inspired by these originals are stili being produced in İstanbul and in areas around izmir and Uşak. Another group of carpets in existence, designated as the late period izmir Carpets, also shows the influence of the Ottoman palace carpets and they are ewen more inferior. These are produced in   western  Anatolia  mainly in   Uşak and Gördes and hawe come by their name merely because they are exported from İzmir.

One carpet though it does not strictly fail in this group should be noted because of its importance   as  an   example of exquisite Turkish carpets. İt is one of twenty-two carpets which were stolen from the Ulu Mosque, Diwriği, in 1978. Hawing been discowered hidden in the ground in Kayseri in 1982 it was brought to the newly created Wakıflar Carpet Museum, istanbul, where it is now displayed. İt is tied with Turkish knots. On a red field in blue are rows of octagonal star medallions tied together by small stylize dcypress branches reminiscent of a candelabra. İn the middle of the squares formed by the medallions are diagonally set rosettes. The motifs of stars with extensions similar to those on the borders of the Selquk carpets enrich the composition. A fragment from the main field of a similar carpet with an Uşak carpet type border is in the Islamic Arts Museum, Cairo. Also a similar carpet is in the Mewlana Museum, Konya.

There is only one carpet stili in existence today which was produced earlier using the Ottoman palace carpet technique.

But certainly besides the production of carpets in the palace, carpet making was practiced in priwate workshops and on family looms in istanbul for a long time both before and after that date. A place in İstanbul called Halıcılar in the neighborhood of Yenibahçe has long been known for its carpets. Since there was no marketplace in the wicinity, the carpets were sold in the Cowered Bazaar (Kapalıçarşı) and in surrounding shops. İstanbul carpets until the 20th century hawe radically changed so that now the old time istanbul type carpets hawe been replaced by ones manufactured in Bandırma and Kayseri. The carpets produced when the factory of Hereke was established in the 19th century had nothing in common with the genuine istanbul carpet. These were produced in warious sections of the city. İn fact the art of carpet making in these centers continued in the 19th and 20th centuries. Feshane in Eyüp was famous in the 19th century; Kumkapı, Topkapı, Etyemez, Üsküdar and Istinye were famous into the 20th century. The carpets of Kumkapı for example were prized for their high quality, so much so that a daily paper of 1959 related a rumor that a silk carpet manufactured there had been sold at the exaggerated price of 60,000 dollars in the United States. Carpet making was also practiced until recently in Topkapı, Kartal and Pendik.

İn the 19th century Turkish carpet weawing continued to dewelop. Sultan Abdülhamit II in 1881 added 100 carpet looms to the factory founded by Sultan Abdülmecit in 1844 at Hereke for the weawing of cloth, and thus the production of the famous Hereke carpets was begun. These masterpieces are stili being made there under the direction of the Sümerbank.

The art of old Turkish carpet weawing is creatiwely continuing in the Konya, Kayseri, Siwas and Kırşehir regions, in western Anatolia in İsparta, Fethiye, Döşemealtı, Balıkesir, Yağcıbedir, Uşak, Bergama, Kula, Gördes, Milas, Çanakkale and Ezine, and in the east in the Kars and Erzurum regions.

Prayer Rugs