Turkish Carpets And Rugs History
Turkish Anatolian Carpets And Rugs
The history of Turkish rugs date back to the nomadic times of the Turkish clans of the Central Asia steps. Carpet had a powerful effectiveness in nomadic Turcoman clans. Because the hordes moving very often and lived in tents, carpets were very portable objects which made the ground easy to step on.
Initially, carpets were used due to its functionality and later it had decorative features in order to adapt to colors of the tents and surrounding environment.
Almost every city of Anatolia (Asia Minor) has carpets with distinctive adornment and colours. These hand-made art pieces reflect a tradition that is passed on from one generation another.
Types Of Anatolian Carpets
Turkish Anatolian carpets are usually categorized as Seljuk (Nomadic) carpets and Ottoman (Traditional) carpets.
The first category is referring to nomadic Turcoman tribes of Central Asia. These type of carpets are adorned with geometrical motifs with animal and nature depictions.
The second category is Ottoman classical period carpets adorned with flower motifs with medallion emblem in the center.
Seljuk Anatolian Carpets
Battle of Manzikert opened the gates of Anatolia to the Seljuk Turks. They marched to Eastern and Central Anatolia and settled those lands. They built mosques, caravanserais, and palaces. Seljuks adorned the buildings with their beautiful carpets.
The oldest known Seljuk carpets are the 13th Century ones in Alaeddin Mosque in Konya (Central Anatolia). Seljuk Empire era carpets embody characteristically blue and red tones, some arabesque motifs and kufic script.
In the 13th Century, renowned traveler Marco Polo who visited Anatolia noted that the best carpets were weaved in Sivas (Sebastia) and its surrounding area which he called Turcomania.
In the 14th Century, another globetrotter, Ibn Battuta praised Turkish carpets and wrote that the carpets were exported into all the known trade centers of the world.
Ottoman Anatolian Carpets
During the reign of Sultan Selim I, Tabriz and Cairo was captured by Ottoman Empire. As a result of cultural influence, motifs of Turkish carpet changed remarkably. Geometric motifs of Anatolian carpets were no longer preferred. Carpet masters came from Cairo of Egypt and Tabriz of Iran, and then Turkish carpets were adorned with floral and busy motifs.
In this era, Venetian and Genoese merchants that ruled the sea trade from Istanbul to Europe made carpet trade a profitable business. Carpets made in Bergama (Pergamum), Kayseri (Caesarea), Konya (Iconium), Hereke (Nicomedia) and Uşak (Oushak) decorated the palaces of European dynasties for long years. Including Renaissance painters Hans Holbein, Lorenzo Lotto and Hans Hemling, many famous painters included Turkish carpets in their pieces.
Ottomans also adorned the famous mosques and palaces with valuable carpets from these regions. In 16th century, the Harem is moved to Topkapı Palace with the insistence of Roxelana, the wife of Suleiman the Magnificent. When women moved into to palace it became a home instead of an official building. Some beautiful examples of Ottoman carpets can be seen in Istanbul’s Topkapı Palace Museum.
Turkish Carpets Of Today
Nowadays, Hereke and Uşak carpets are rare and expensive due to low production. Wool-made geometric motif Anatolian carpets are easier to find and therefore they are cheaper. To find the right carpet at the right price might require a special expertise.
Istanbul’s carpet stores, import the carpets from all over Turkey and sell the merchandise to the local and foreign visitors. Therefore Istanbul is the major city that you can find all types of Turkish carpets. The heart of the market is of course famous Grand Bazaar.
Further Recommended Reading:
Turkish Anatolian Carpets And Rugs By Serhat Engül