While the carpet already had a long history before the arrival of Islam, its range of decorative possibilities and association with both religious worship and court protocol made it one of the emblems of the Islamic arts. Whether as a domestic carpet, prayer mat or luxury article like this one, it marks out a space and determines its function.
Historical sources mention carpets brought as tributes to the Abbasid caliph Al-Mustansir in the 9th century and fragments datable to the 13th century have been found in the Turkish city of Konya, the nearby town of Beyshehir and the modern city of Cairo. With the advent of the Ottoman dynasty, carpet production underwent unprecedented growth as well as renewal of its decorative vocabulary. The Uşak region in western Anatolia was then established as the principal production centre for articles commissioned by the sultans, a position it maintained until the end of the 17th century. Large carpets were produced from cartoons provided by the royal workshops of the "naqqashkhane" or design centre, where an imperial aesthetic closely related to the seraglio was developed. These royal studios created new patterns for major decorative works whose highly elaborate character gave birth to some remarkable items close to the style developed in the contemporary Persian world. For centuries the Ottomans and their Venetian neighbours dominated the trade with Europe, where large, knotted carpets – with a velvet pile, unlike the woven rugs of the kilim type – were greatly prized by monarchs of the Renaissance era. Henry VIII of England (1491−1547) had more than five and appears in numerous portraits either enthroned or standing on an Ushak carpet. These sovereign allegories are masterfully served by the contrast of forms and colours, and the separation of planes offers metaphors of the throne and the heavens. As a result of the financial crisis that struck the Ottoman empire at the end of the 17th century, large carpets became rarer as the flow of major commissions dried up.
|Title: Medallion Carpet|
|Geography: Ushak, Turkey|
|Date: ca. 1480|
|Dimensions: max. 273 x 653.5 cm|
|Inventory number: LAD 2016.005|
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