"Lotto" carpets are among the most generally recognized classical carpets known today. As with many other types of early Turkish weaving, there is some disagreement as to the precise history or origin of the 'Lotto' group. It is generally accepted, however, that they were woven in cottage workshops in the Oushak region of Western Anatolia. The 'Lotto' name derives from the fact that rugs of this type are depicted in numerous paintings by the Venetian artist Lorenzo Lotto (1480-1556), although he was not the first or only to paint such carpets. Their extensive depiction in European paintings underscores the popularity of 'Lotto' carpets in the West since their creation in the 16th century. The large number of extant rugs known today indicates that 'Lotto' rugs were exported to the West in substantial quantities to satisfy a booming demand.
Charles Grant Ellis has classifeid the known examples of 'Lotto' carpet into three principle design groups based on variations of drawing and design motifs. He distinguishes the three groups as the Anatolian-style, the kilim-style and the ornamental-style (see Ellis, C. G.: "The 'Lotto' Pattern as Fashion in Carpets, "Festchrift für Peter Wilhelm Meister, 1975, pp. 19-31). The carpet offered here falls under the Anatolian-style category. While being the oldest and most usual type, this piece is differentiated by a restrained and pliant treatment of the arabesque lattice-work. Like all 'Lotto' carpets, the design is comprised of quatrefoils along the central longitudinal axis with flanking staggered rows of octagonal shapes outlined at the top and bottom by flat triangular shaped tendrils. In our example there are five and a half quatrefoils and five pairs of octagons.
Two similar 'Lotto' carpets are in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (see Ellis, Charles Grant, Oriental Carpets in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 1988, pp. 30-33, figs. 9 and 10). Figure 9 shares the same treatment of the arabesque, especially in the rimming of the "eyes" in red. Also, the cloudbands in the border face outward, although our example utilizes only red and yellow for the cloudbands, as also seen in Figure 10. Figure 9 was intially longer and was perhaps the same length as the Mikaeloff piece. All three employ the cogswheel motif in the vinery of the border as well as the endless knot device.
Although our example is fragmentary it remains a testament to the artistic creativity of the urban workshops in the Oushak area in the 16th and 17th centuries and demonstrates the motivation behind the enormous popularity that 'Lotto' Oushaks have enjoyed for centuries in both the East and West.