Asia Minor, Kula, late 18th – early 19th century

Warp, weft and pile – wool; symmetrical knots

160 x 124 cm

MAA inv. no. 1987

A valuable prayer rug made in Asia Minor at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century, is kept in the Textile and Costume Department collection.

The oldest of all carpets came from Asia Minor and those preserved today date from the 13th century. At the start of the 20th century, eight carpets were discovered in the Alaeddin mosque in Konya and brought to a museum in Istanbul. They date from the time of Seljuq, an age recording an expansion of sultanates in Konya, when the mosque was reconstructed and expanded in the early 13th century. Turkish carpets were exported to Europe from the 14th century onwards and that is when we start to find them in the paintings of the Italian masters, especially the Siena and Florentine schools.

Carpet-making reached its height in Asia Minor and Persia in the 16th and 17thcenturies. In 1516, when the Turks captured Tabriz, the capital of Azerbaijan and one of the centres of carpet-making, the Persian influence on Anatolian carpets grew stronger. For example, the previous traditional geometric shapes started to give way to floral motifs and arabesques. From the technical standpoint, alongside the symmetrical knot, the asymmetrical knot started to be introduced and silk was brought in as a material. The new centres of carpet-making became Constantinople and Ushak, but carpets continued to be made in many other Turkish towns during the 18th and 19th centuries. They were even produced by nomadic tribes, notably the Yuruk tribe.

One of the qualities gracing the carpets of Asia Minor is undoubtedly a broad palette of colours, from bright to very delicate shades. The classification of carpets is usually based on individual names reflecting a certain type of composition or size. The best examples, boasting exceptionally imaginative designs, can be found in the prayer rugs, which are also produced in other areas, but far less successfully.