Lot: 21Transylvanian Prayer Rug
Lot: 22Ushak Lotto Rug
West Anatolia, second half 16th century
170 x 110 cm (5’ 7” x 3’ 7”)
Condition: good, low pile, corroded brown, all four sides slightly incomplete, some small old repairs and reweaves, ends and sides backed with fabric
Warp: wool, weft: wool, pile: wool
This is a very pretty, small-format kilim-style Ushak Lotto arabesque rug, with characteristic angular
sawtoothed outlines surrounded by an elaborate ragged palmette and hooked bar border on a blue ground. Dating from the second half of the 16th century, it was last sold at Rippon Boswell in 2007 (HALI 155, p. 137).
Most kilim-style (after Charles Grant Ellis) Lotto rugs are of similar small format. But apart from those depicted in 17th-century Dutch paintings, most were either found in Transylvania or appear to have been exported from Turkey by the Transylvanian route to Hungary and from there to western Europe.
Of these small 17th-century Transylvanian-type Lottos, the great majority are late, simple in design, uninspiring in colours and coarse in structure. Their ubiquitous kilim-style field is most commonly associated with either cloud-band or cartouche borders.
This much rarer kilim-style/ragged palmette combination is not known from any 16th-century Italian or 17th-century Dutch paintings. The handful of published rugs that have it includes: a rather stiffly drawn example in the Applied Arts Museum, Budapest (Donald King/ David Sylvester, The Eastern Carpet In The Western World from the 15th to the 17th century, 1983, No. 34, Ferenc Batári, Ottoman Turkish Carpets, 1994, Nr. 9); another in the Ballard Collection, St Louis (Ballard Collection of Oriental Rugs, 1924, No. 68, Maurice S. Dimand, The Ballard Collection of Oriental Rugs in the City Art Museum of St. Louis, 1935, Pl. XXII, Walter B. Denny, The Carpet and the Connoisseur, 2016, Pl. 9); and one in St Margarets Church, Medias ex-Evangelical Church, Bagaciu; (Stefano Ionescu, Antique Ottoman Rugs in Transylvania, 2005, No.28). Ionescu also illustrates a second example in Medias (No. 242), and another in the Brukenthal Museum, Sibiu, Miercurea (No. 27). Batári also shows a half-rug from the Budapest holdings (No. 10). All the cited pieces are dated to the 17th century and most appear to be arguably a generation later than the present rug.
Estimate: € 20000 - 30000
Lot: 23Ottoman Quilt Cover
Lot: 24Persian Stitched Inlay Cover
Persia, 16th / 17th century
158 x 115 cm (5’ 2” x 3’ 9”)
Condition: good, few damages and abrasions, some small lacking parts, very good condition according to age
Wool and cotton
This remarkable and extremely rare textile is made from different wool fabrics cut out according to motif and then sewn together. This differs from appliqué work, there are not several layers of textile but one thin surface that is reversible from the back. Around the cut-out pieces a carefully inserted outline of blue cotton and yellow and white thread is added. This is usually done with stable non-fraying fabrics such as felt, leather or wool, this last quite often being felted. The technique is very old and can be observed from the Pazyryk felts to Mamluk blazons, Swedish church hangings, Ottoman tents, Quadjar Resht embroideries and Central Asian felts. See Clare Roses article in HALI 106, p.78.
The Mamluk example published by Marianne Ellis in Embroideries and Samplers from Islamic Egypt, 2006 on p. 73 shows similar but more complex designs. The woolen cloth used shows a different weave, but the linen outlining of the motifs is very similar to our piece.
On the other end of the time spectrum we think of the Rasht embroideries from the southwest corner of the Caspian Sea. These were made with English broadcloth, which has a felted surface, but the main difference is that they are embroidered on top.
Central Asian examples come to mind as well. In 1995 Battilossi advertised a broadcloth stitched inlay in HALI 79 on p. 53. It has a very similar trefoil border, also in red and blue, but the field shows a tile pattern. The other example was shown by Thomas Wild at the dealers fair at the ICOC in Milan 1999. See HALI 108, p. 133. In dating the piece 17th to 19th century, Battilossi admitted that we do not know very much about these rare textiles, as did Thomas Wild with an 18th-century attribution.
The most closely related example was shown by the Textile Gallery in 1992 at the Grosvenor house fair. HALI described it in issue 64 page 171 as an extremely rare pieced textile, probably Ottoman with a Persian border and an Indian field. The field is arranged in the same ogival tile pattern as ours, but shows naturalistically drawn flowers, hence the Indian field. The red-and-blue border is identical but not in size in both pieces. The reason why Michael Franses put the piece within the Ottoman Empire, mid-17th century might have been a wool-stitched inlay which is preserved in Karlsruhe. Published in Ernst Petrasch/Reinhard Saenger, Die Karsruher Türkenbeute, 1991 on p. 321, it has the general layout of a Transylvanian rug. This textile was part of the collection of the Markgraf Ludwig Wilhelm von Baden who fought the Turks after the siege of Vienna in 1683.
Estimate: € 8000 - 14000
Lot: 25Azerbaijan Embroidery
Azerbaijan, 18th century
104 x 62 cm (3’ 5” x 2’)
Condition: very good, minor signs of use
Silk on cotton
This highly interesting embroidery is difficult to pin down. Kaitags come to mind, which in terms of size and appearance seem similar. But Kaitags are embroidered in a different stitch and the carpet motifs they depict are not derived directly from rugs but from Azerbaijani embroideries interpreting mainly Dragon and Blossom carpets. On the other hand there is no known depiction of a Memling gul rug among the group of Azerbaijani embroideries. Also nearly all of the examples that relate to carpet designs are fairly organised and not as wild in expression.
The probably sole relative to this cushion cover is published in Anthony N. Landreau, From the Bosporus to Samarkand, Flat-Woven Rugs, 1969 on p. 80. The stitching is similar, as is the colour palette. The outer border is almost identical to our main border. It uses the same colours, just in a different order, and the oval centre is expressed as rectangles. If we assume a relationship to Azerbaijani pieces then we note the frequent use of a cartouche and star border.
The From Bosporus to Samarkand piece, formerly in the Keshishian collection, shows a carpet design as well, but this is not as unique as the Memling design in our piece. It displays three star medallions which can be found in a more formal way in an embroidery shown on pl. 19 in Stars of the Caucasus. In that piece we see the typical legged longish forms which also appear in the Keshishian cover.
These two pieces might be the few survivors of a subgroup of Azerbaijani embroideries, or may potentially be from a single household or family. Alongside the above-mentioned points one marked difference is the stitching of these two, which relates neither to Kaitag nor the Azerbaijan group.
Nevertheless a potential half sibling can be found on pl. 7 in Michael Franses, Stars of the Caucasus, 2018. It shows a similar less-formal approach in the interpretation of the eight-pointed star design with a related colour palette. On the opposite page we find an 18th-century carpet with three medallions on white ground from the Textile Museum Washington, which emphasises that the probable answer to the question which came first, embroidery or rug? is neither.
Estimate: € 10000 - 15000
Lot: 26Azerbaijan Embroidery
Azerbaijan, possibly Tabriz area, second half 17th century
100 x 101 cm (3’ 3” x 3’ 4”)
Condition: very good according to age, scattered slight abrasions and lacking parts, scattered small restorations
Silk on cotton
Silk embroideries from Azerbaijan from the 17th to the early 19th century can be roughly divided into three main groups. According to design, one is closely related to carpets of the same time of the region namely Dragon and Blossom carpets; another shows geometric tile designs; and the third displays naturalistic flowers, animals and human beings derived from Safavid court carpets and textiles.
This last group is the largest in surviving numbers, and the oldest. Michael Franses, Stars of the Caucasus, 2018, finds part explanation of this fact in the large numbers of Azerbaijani people in the region of Tabriz, and suggests also that they have been especially treasured textiles. Another reason might be that, when these embroideries appeared in western markets from the end of the 19th century onwards, collectors and museums alike might have preferred textiles that could be related to the high art of the Safavid court; this increased their survival rate.
Among the Safavid group there is a subdivision marked by a mostly central, eight-pointed star surrounded by cartouches. Michael Franses states that the design must surely have come from fritware tiles and that these often feature animals among curving stems. The oldest of the group, pl. 12 in Stars of the Caucasus, shows on the left of a central cypress tree a person playing a flute while on the other side a smaller figure is listening.
Within the star and cartouche group Michael identifies four known examples on a black background. Two are in the Viktoria & Albert Museum, one was formerly in a Dutch collection and then sold at Rippon Boswell, May 2016 Lot 28; and then comes our piece, which formerly was with Sir John Ramsden, Muncaster, Cumbria. It was shown at the exhibition of Persian art in Burlington House in London in 1931.
Within the eight-pointed star we see two birds sitting on branches left and right of a central complex flower motif. This arrangement is repeated in the light-blue cartouches which surround the star. A wonderfully drawn green border with red highlights surrounds the blue-and-white inner field. The execution of the embroidery is very detailed, flowing and naturalistic.
In this it differs from an example with almost identical design and age but a contrasting interpretation with Moshe Tabibnia Milan. See p. 73 in Stars of the Caucasus. The colour palette is different, the drawing more abstract and with less detail. Especially interesting is the comparison with the borders. Even though the two examples might have the same age, our example is closer to its Safavid court art roots.
Estimate: € 25000 - 35000
Lot: 27Azerbaijan Embroidery
Azerbaijan, 18th century
136 x 109 cm (4’ 6” x 3’ 7”)
Condition: good according to age, sides and ends partially incomplete, some abrasions and small lacking parts
Silk on linen
The colour range of Azerbaijani embroideries falls into two distinct groups. One has strong and stable colours of a wide spectrum very much related to Caucasian carpets; the other has a mild pastel palette. In Stars of the Caucasus Penny Oakley suggest a Turkish influence on the stronger-coloured cross-stitch examples and the dyes probably made by the regions Turkic population, with the pastel and not-so-fast colours coming from or via Iran.
Even though there is some fading in these colours it is clear that a softer palette was desired. In his Kaukasische Teppiche, 1961 Ulrich Schürmann therefore placed embroidery 142 in Surahani near Baku, probably relating such examples to the Baku rugs with a similar tonality. But it seems that most of these rugs are so late that they cant really prove much.
There are very few examples of oriental weavings which were meant to be in pastel tones, Polonaise carpets being one of them. They show similar tones of light blues, apricot and yellow. This would chime with Penny Oakleys observations.
The general layout of this piece is not entirely different from the other piece in this auction. Here as well we have a star in the centre, even though the corners are somewhat hidden, surrounded by cartouches. But the whole approach is geometric and even the flower forms within the motifs are abstract. In the corners we see parts of the same star as in the centre, forming an endless repeat pattern which is framed by a border of S forms; these could be derived from depictions of dragons in carpets of that name.
A very interesting example with the same underlying design principle as No. 31 is published in Adil Besim, Mythos und Mystik, Band 1, 1998. Here an earlier (design, not textile), more curvilinear variation of the layout can be found. In that piece the central focus point is what is here the secondary, square motif, and four star medallions surround it. Here as well the border cuts into them to suggest an endless repeat.
In the catalogue description of this piece Detlef Maltzahn points out a carpet in the Turk ve Islam museum Istanbul which is almost identical in design, including the S border (Serare Yetkin, Early Caucasian Carpets in Turkey, 1978, pl. 39). The rug is shown in black-and-white and dated to the 19th century; it is difficult to judge if it possibly could be older and therefore contemporary to our embroidery.
There are several examples of this design in the strong colours group of Azerbaijani embroideries. An example formerly in the Orient Stars collection is especially notable. See Stars of the Caucasus, page 201. If we follow the design development into the 19th century we actually end up with the Alpan Kuba rugs.
Estimate: € 16000 - 22000
Lot: 28Bakhshaish Carpet
Lot: 29Manchester Kashan Carpet
Lot: 30Heriz Carpet
Lot: 31Blue-ground Kashan Carpet with Inscription