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A 'BIRD' USHAK RUG
A 'BIRD' USHAK RUG

SELENDI OR WEST ANATOLIA, LATE 16TH/EARLY 17TH CENTURY

Details
A 'BIRD' USHAK RUG
SELENDI OR WEST ANATOLIA, LATE 16TH/EARLY 17TH CENTURY
Evenly worn throughout, corroded dark brown, scattered repiling, all four sides rewoven along outer guard stripe
5ft.2in. x 5ft.10in. (157cm. x 178cm.)

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Lot Essay

The 'Bird' rugs are so called from the angular motifs which form a lattice within the field but which in reality are more likely to derive from floral or arabesque motifs. Iznik tiles from the mosque of Rustem Pasha of 1559 are noted by Ferenc Batari as showing a similar development of the design from a cintamani original ('White ground Carpets in Budapest', in R. Pinner and W. Denny, (ed.): Oriental Carpet and Textile Studies, II, Carpets of the Mediterranean Countries 1400-1600, London, 1986, pp.197-199). In his discussion of the large 'Bird' carpet in the Ufizzi, Carlo Suriano notes however that the earliest painting of a 'Bird' rug, showing the fully developed design, is dated to 1557 (Portrait, by Hans Mielich, about 1557, Collection of Mrs Rush H. Kress, New York, reproduced in M.S Dimand and Jean Mailey, Oriental Rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York, 1983, p.192). This shows the two to be contemporaneous at the least, assuming that the rug was new when depicted (Carlo Maria Suriano, 'Patterns of Patronage, Classical carpets in the Bargello Museum, Florence', Hali, Issue 83, October/November 1995, pp.84-86).

In early carpet literature rugs of this design are always thought to have come from Ushak, but the publication of a reference in 1983 to a Turkish inventory of 1640, in which the only rug specified to have a white ground is attributed to Selendi, made this latter town now the preferred option (Halil Inalcik, 'The Yurks', in Pinner and Denney (ed.): op.cit., p.58). Interestingly the inventory describes the design as 'crow design', and refers to another rug as 'Selendi style with leopard design', presumably referring to the cintamani prayer rugs described recently by Jürg Rageth ('A Selendi Rug', Hali, Issue 98, May 1998, pp.84-91), which have a very similar colour scheme and looseness of weave.

The most commonly encountered 'Bird' rugs are woven on a small-scale format, such as the unusual variant sold in these Rooms, 17 October 1996, lot 428. All either have a white part medallion border or a white cloudband border seen here. Other rugs with three to four repeats across the width of the field are in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Charles Grant Ellis, Oriental Rugs in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 1988, no.16, pp.48-50; two in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Dimand and Mailey, op.cit., figs.172 &173, p.191), one formerly in the Toms Collection (Sotheby's London, 7 June 1995, lot 137), and one in Vienna (A. Volker, 'Berlegungen zur Neuaufstellung der Orientteppichsammlung des sterreichischen Museums fr angewandte Kunst in Wien', Hali, Vol.2, No.1, Spring 1979, fig.4, p.14). An extraordinary three examples were in the Paulette Goddard Remarque sale (Sotheby's London, 18 November 1976, lots 9, 12 & 22). Even larger examples with between four and five are in the Ufizzi, Florence (Suriano, op.cit., pl.6) and in the Turk ve Islam Museum, Istanbul (N. Oler (intro. by), Turkish Carpets from the 13th-18th Centuries, Istanbul, 1996, pl.113, p.155).

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