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 çintamani 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 çintamani prayer rugs described 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. Together with contemporary 'Transylvanian' rugs a number have survived in the Protestant churches of Transylvania (modern day Romania), having been given as gifts by wealthy burghers.
The most commonly encountered 'Bird' rugs are woven on a small-scale format and all either have a white part medallion border or a white cloudband border, as seen here, with small variations in their detail. The four central stylised birds on the present rug have unusually long curled beaks which is much less common but appears on three other published small format examples; one in the monastic Church of Sighisoara and two in the Black Church in Brasov, Transylvania, (S. Ionescu, Antique Ottoman Rugs in Transylvania, Rome, 2005, fig. 57, 59 and 61, pp.107-108). Complete small format examples that have sold in these Rooms include an unusual variant sold 17 October 1996, lot 428, another on 14 October 1999, lot 140 and one more recently on 19 April 2016, lot 48. Larger format examples with the same design but which have 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 repeats 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).