This rug belongs to a group of carpets coined 'Ghirlandaio' carpets after a rug that was depicted by Domenico Ghirlandaio in his mid fifteenth century, Madonna Enthroned (Volkmar Gantzhorn, The Christian Oriental Carpet, Köln, 1991, ill.482). While the exact type of rug depicted in this painting has never been found, the field design of the present lot and associated carpets are similar in style to the painted rug. This field is an extremely old design that can be encountered in Turkish carpets most likely dating back to the fifteenth century and continues to be seen well into the nineteenth century. Serare Yetkin classifies the rug depicted by Ghirlandaio, and by association similar rugs, as type III Holbein carpets based on the octagon-in-squares centres of the medallions (S. Yetkin, Historical Turkish Carpets, Istanbul, 1981, pp.59-65).
Three other rugs similar to the present piece are also known to exist: one in a German private collection (M. Volkmann, Alte Orientteppiche, Munich, 1985, no.18), one with Eberhart Herrmann (E. Herrmann, Seltene Orientteppiche X, Munich, 1988, no.13), and a third, which sold in the Bernheimer Family Collection of Carpets, in these Rooms, 14 February 1996, lot 110, now in the Zaleski Collection, Italy. Like ours, the Herrmann rug has only one medallion but is set against a more open red field. The Volkmann and the Bernheimer examples however share nearly the exact same colouration but display two medallions within the shaded emerald-green field. All three rugs share the same cruciform motif border. This cruciform motif can be seen in other Anatolian rugs both as border and field design and is the subject of much discussion by Werner Brüggemann (W. Brüggemann and H. Böhmer, Rugs of the Peasants and Nomads of Anatolia, Munich, 1983, pp.60-70). Writing in Volkmann, Brüggemann points out that the use of this border divided into quadrants by colour is uncommon in connection with 'Ghirlandaio' carpets (Volkmann, op.cit., p.56). Of the four rugs noted, the present lot is unique in that it displays four small rotating hooked motifs within its central octagon which could be interpreted as the spinning motion of a whirling dervish.