Frequently Asked Questions
- What Is A Turkish Rug?
Turkish rugs, often known as Turkish carpets, are woven in Turkey.
Most surviving Ottoman rugs made before 1800 came from workshops in Bergama, Gördes, Lâdik, Ushak and other Anatolian cities. Some early village and nomadic rugs exist, but their dating and provenance are challenging to determine.
- Origin: Turkey
On the west side of the Sea of Marmara, modern Turkey contains Istanbul (previously Constantinople) and the surrounding European area and the massive Asiatic territory of Anatolia on the east side of the Sea of Marmara. The first Turkish rugs and pieces date from the thirteenth century Seljuk dynasty. Some of the carpets' designs hint at Turkmen origins or influences.
Turkey, also known by its historical and geographical name of Anatolia, is a country in Asia Minor bordered on the north by the Black Sea, on the northeast by the Caucasus Mountains, on the East by Iran (Persia), on the southeast by Iraq and Syria, on the southwest by the Mediterranean Sea and on the northwest by Greece and Bulgaria.
Despite the fact that most of the antique Turkish rugs are from Turkey, not all of them are. Some came from Anatolia, Persia, Afghanistan and other neighbouring countries.
- Turkish Rug Characteristics
Turkey has long been regarded as one of the world's leading producers of Oriental rugs. Over the years, Turkey has been attributed to the development and growth of folk art weavings. Turkey's weavers were highly skilled and innovative, employing innovative designs and techniques.
Turkish rugs are created from the finest materials available. Cotton and wool-cotton blends are far less valued than hand-spun wool and silk. You can tell the difference between a silk and a cotton rug right away.
Turkish carpets are available in a wide range of hues, so you can choose the colour scheme that best suits your preferences. Look for a rug that is dyed with natural colours, which lasts longer and does not fade easily. Chemical dyes tend to look washed out.
Turkish rugs are divided into four categories: Hali, Kilim, Cicim and Sumak. The Hali is the thickest of the three, but the others are all flat weaves.
They're frequently utilised as miniature rugs and wall hangings, which, combined with the appropriate furniture, gives an impressive touch of middle eastern style.
Many experts can identify a rug's origins and the story it tells just by looking at it. Usually, the stories are those that the creators, who are primarily women, desire to speak. Look for the tale in a Turkish rug to learn more about its meaning.
Because they are antique pieces of art, older carpets are more valuable than newer ones. Newer carpets may be of good quality, but they lack the inherent value of older rugs.
Hand-knotted rugs are more expensive than machine-made rugs, but the quality difference is noticeable. Handmade carpets are becoming increasingly rare in today's world.
A handmade rug may have some idiosyncrasies, but these add to its overall appeal.
Every Turkish rug has a unique story to tell. You may learn about the place where they were manufactured, the rug's age, the people who made it, and what was going on in their country at the time with the many details present in some carpets.
Turkmen carpets are also handmade in parts of Turkey.
- Common Designs: Medallion, Symmetric
Most Turkish rugs from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are coarsely woven, with a knot density of fewer than 50 knots per square inch. The symmetric knot is employed with few exceptions.
Prayer carpets and medallions are more common than all-over patterns.
- Common Colours: Blue, Red, Green, White, Brown And Yellow
The colours are muted and two tones of the same colour are commonly juxtaposed. Almost all areas of the carpet have various designs and embellishments.
- Material: Wool, Cotton, Silk
Most rugs are woven on a wool foundation, while cotton foundations have become more popular since the turn of the century. Unplied wefts usually have two shoots between each row of knots. Turkey has produced some silk rugs as well.
- The History Of Antique Turkish Rugs
Following the Seljuks' defeat, the Ottoman empire progressively absorbed the mini-states that sprang up in Anatolia. Through the seventeenth century, z-spun red wefts were standard in Anatolian rugs.
Originating in Turkestan, the Seljuk tribes pushed west, conquering Asia Minor and settling in Anatolia. The Seljuks turned to Islam in 1055 CE, bringing the Mohammedan religion to the region. With magnificent mosques and other structures, the city of Konya in Central Anatolia has become an Islamic art and cultural destination.
Many causes contributed to Turkey's diverse collection of gorgeous rugs. During the thirteenth century, the Seljuk Turk tribes weaved the first Anatolian piled carpets. Geometric, basic motifs were used in an all-over, repeated styles, with a Kufic border woven in a similar approach to Islamic calligraphy.
Some of these rugs were unearthed in 1905 at the Alaeddin Mosque in Konya by Swedish researcher and novelist Fredrik R. Martin (1868-1933). The carpets are now on display at Istanbul's Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum and Konya's Mevlana Museum.
Osman I, a youthful warrior and son of Ertoghrul Ghazi, became Emir of his principality in northern Anatolia in 1288 CE. Osman I (r. 1299-1326) ascended to the throne of the Seljuks and waged war against the Byzantine Empire's eastern provinces. He founded the Osmani, now known as the Ottoman Empire, which would rule the Middle East for the next six centuries.
The Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II (r. 1451-1481) seized Constantinople in 1453, bringing the Byzantine Empire to a close. The city was renamed Istanbul and became the Ottoman Empire's capital. The Sultan established Islamic governance in the city and transformed many of the churches into mosques. Mehmed II resumed his army march and conquered Europe's Balkan region.
There are various sets of Anatolian carpets hand knotted in the early fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in contemporary paintings. These weavings were most likely manufactured by tribes from Konya and Ushak. The rugs were created for Ottoman Empire top officials and exported to the West.
Venetian merchants avidly traded them and shipped them to Europe for exclusive usage in royal palaces and by the nobility.
The oldest collection, known as Holbein Rugs, is from the fifteenth century and is named after the German painter Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543), who frequently used rugs in his paintings. Holbein's designs included octagon-shaped motifs on the field with Kufic borders and tribal Turkmen Gül (elephant foot) motifs from Turkestan. The king of England stands on an Anatolian rug in a renowned Holbein picture of Henry VIII from 1538, which led to the carpet being named after the painter.
The second series of carpets, known as Lotto Rugs, were woven in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries and were named after Venetian painter Lorenzo Lotto (1480-1556) who used rugs in numerous works. The backdrop of an Anatolian Lotto rug is usually geometric palmettes and Arabesques (eslim), with a Kufic border.
The third type, known as "Star" Ushak rugs, first appeared in paintings in the early sixteenth century, particularly those by Venetian artist Paris Bordone (1500-1571). Large geometric Star motifs are repeated in the backdrop of these carpets.
During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, examples were woven with the theme of dragons, animals and birds as the prominent design feature. They are geometric in appearance and include an octagon or a repeating pattern throughout. The Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin has a rug with a dragon theme in an octagon shape, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has an animal rug in its collection. A unique all-over bird design on a crimson backdrop is conserved in the Mevlana Museum in Konya, keeping with the history of all-over styles.
During the Safavid era of Shah Ismail, Sultan Selim I the Grim (r. 1512-1520) conquered northwestern Persia, including the main city of Tabriz. Sultan Selim used the Persian Empire's art and culture, bringing to western Anatolia hundreds of expert rug weavers, artists, architects, painters and ceramists. In the Ottoman royal court, the Sultan constructed an art school in the Istanbul area, containing looms for Persian rugs and textiles.
Sultan Selim's forces had advanced south by 1517, occupying Kurdistan, Syria, Palestine and Egypt (Mamluk Empire).
By moving rug weavers, metalworkers, and ceramists to Anatolia, the Sultan continued his pillaging of art and culture throughout the region, particularly in Egypt. By combining artists from Persia, Syria, and Egypt, the Sultan hoped to enhance Ottoman civilisation through arts and culture. The Ottoman Empire made Egypt a province. Mamluk loom owners continued to weave carpets and send them to Anatolia for use by the Ottoman Empire and for export.
The medallion with stylised palmette motifs, woven in superior quality by Ottoman artists than under the original Persian court, was one of the adapted Safavid Carpet designs.
Persian and Egyptian designs were developed in the Ottoman Empire's western region in the sixteenth century. Floral, Tree of Life, animal themes, medallions and all-over designs were woven throughout this time.
The sixteenth century is regarded as the golden age of Oriental carpet manufacturing. During the reign of Akbar the Great, the greatest court carpets were made by the Safavid, Ottoman, Mamluk and Mughal empires (r. 1556-1605).
Carpets for palaces and the nobles were woven all over the world. These carpets are now highly sought after and are housed in prestigious museums around the globe.
The Persian medallion was used by weavers in the Ushak region around the sixteenth century. For large-scale carpets manufactured for the Ottoman court and palaces in Europe, this style became immensely popular. In addition, Ushak weavers manufactured rugs with little medallions with Mihrab (prayer arch) motifs on a crimson background, known in the trade as "Small Medallion Ushak." This style usually contains an Open Field and, on one or both ends of the field, a mosque lamp hanging from the pinnacle of the mihrab.
The Islamic religion became a part of people's daily lives in Anatolia, inspiring the Ottoman Empire's woven art. Prayer Rugs were created throughout villages and towns throughout the late sixteenth century as part of Sultan Suleyman's religious allegiance to Islam. His royal court wove this design with the best quality as well.
The majority of prayer rug designs are geometric, with a single-direction mihrab or arch pattern. During the seventeenth century, a range of tribal design elements and animal patterns were regularly woven into the spandrels. A mosque lamp or chandelier may be suspended from the arch's centre on prayer carpets.
Weavers would sometimes put two or four columns in the field to support the arch figuratively. The most prominent places for manufacturing prayer rugs were Bergama, Ghiordes, Konya, Kula, Ladik, Melas, Panderma and Ushak. Each weaving section had its own colour scheme and pattern. These rugs were collected by churches throughout Europe's Balkan region, particularly those in Transylvania, to decorate their walls and floors.
Animal images were forbidden in prayer rug patterns in the seventeenth century for religious reasons. Above the mihrab, geometric flowers, shrub motifs and other designs were used instead.
Additionally, some weavers added rectangular panels to the field's upper and lower borders. Flowers and arabesques were commonly used in these parts.
Saf Rugs were large community prayer weavings with several prayer motifs in a horizontal row. Many Anatolian villages made Saf rugs with a pile or flatweave in the seventeenth century.
Flatwoven Kilim rugs were a fairly widespread rural and tribal product in Anatolia for millennia. Initially intended for domestic usage, they are now primarily produced for external sale. Early woven kilims from Anatolia are well-known in the antique trade, and museums and collectors worldwide seek them out.
The Ushak region generated two key geometric designs known as the bird and tulip motifs in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. They were woven in an all-over design, with motifs in the field and border that were sometimes similar. During this time, gentle and soft backdrop colouration was popular. The Ushak design and colour combination was a commercial success for foreign export. The region would continue to produce some of Anatolia's most ornate carpets for the European market.
Carpets from the Orient began to be recognised as an art form in the West during the nineteenth century.
Carpet production became one of the Ottoman Empire's most important industries due to its strong market and its jobs for its weavers. To boost marketability, many villages, cities and manufacturers produced new carpet designs and tonalities. For this competitive market, villages known for weaving prayer rugs now included all-over designs and other motifs in their offerings.
The Persian (asymmetric) knot was used to weave the carpets on a cotton substrate. In the nineteenth century, Anatolian cities such as Kayseri, Sivas, Smyrna and Sparta began weaving Persian floral motifs. These carpets were occasionally commissioned by European merchants in a range of styles and sizes.
In Anatolia's northwestern region, Bursa, Hereke and Kum Kapi began producing the finest rugs and carpets by the mid-nineteenth century. Under the supervision of the Ottoman court, the most fascinating and prolific weavers worked in the village of Hereke. Persian floral motifs with European influences dominated Hereke rugs with a wool pile. The Persian Shah Abbas style, for example, was woven with Adam designs or French Flower Bouquet motifs. Hereke also produced Aubusson and Savonnerie carpets in the French style. These carpets were made in various sizes, including palace sizes, and were primarily intended for the royal court and European markets.
Fine silk foundation and silk pile rugs and carpets were commissioned in Hereke during this time. These silk carpets with gorgeous motifs were handcrafted by artisans, and some are of the highest quality. Poems or religious messages were engraved in the borders or above the arches on several of these rugs. The field and border motifs on most Hereke silk carpets include a beautiful gold or silver metallic weft to produce a brocade impression. The late-16th-century Shah Abbas Safavid royal court weavings inspired this metallic-thread-weft brocade design. The Shah Abbas pattern in mihrab or all-over styles was a popular silk background design.
The Ottoman royal court commissioned many of the Hereke silks to be given as presents to monarchs, foreign embassies and the nobility worldwide.
The broad range of carpets woven and made in Anatolia dominated European markets until the early twentieth century. During World War I, the Ottoman Empire collapsed, and the remaining occupied Balkan and Middle Eastern lands were lost. The scarcity of sheep, which were utilised for food and to supply armies with wool for clothes and blankets, had a significant impact on the carpet weaving industry.
Rug production fell dramatically from the foundation of the modern Turkish Republic in 1923 and the 1950s. Turkey officially adopted the Latin alphabet on December 1, 1928. Newspapers and other publications had to be printed in the western script instead of Arabic characters. This shift in written language was rapidly reflected in Turkish rug inscriptions. The vast bulk of Turkish flatweaves are made in Anatolia. Some of the flatweave structures used are Kilim, Cicim, Zili and Soumak.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881-1938) rose to power from the ashes of disaster and ruin following the war, deposing the Ottoman monarchy and establishing the Turkish Republic. After the war, Ataturk launched a campaign to lend money and materials to manufacturers and weavers to help them revive carpet production.
Consumers, collectors and museums all around the world admire antique Anatolian carpets and textiles. In the antique market, tribal weavings dating back to the Seljuks and continuing through the ages, with contributions from Armenians, Greeks, Turkmens, Kurds, Chechens and Tatars, are considered masterpieces.
These ethnic tribes throughout the Ottoman Empire and Persian, Egyptian and European design and colour inspirations, have aided Turkey in producing the most incredible quality woven art.
- Why Choose London House Rugs?
We are rug experts at London House Rugs. We've spent more than four decades honing our craft and building long-term, ethical connections with weavers all across the East. A London House Rug has gone through rigorous sourcing, manufacturing and finishing processes to ensure quality and beauty.
We spend a lot of time in the Middle East seeking the greatest rugs and establishing long-term, ethical relationships with weaving cooperatives. In our store, we have a vast assortment of new and antique carpets in various sizes.
We collaborate with individuals and businesses to design, manufacture and locate carpets for a variety of applications. Please take a look at some of our recent projects to get a sense of the wide range of services we provide, including everything from a single hearth rug for your own home to a hundred handcrafted carpets for a hotel rollout.
We can help you locate the appropriate rug for your room because we have over 40 years of experience.