'Transylvanian' rugs have fascinated both scholars and collectors since they were found: the group is clearly defined, varies in design, layout and colouring but is still immediately recognisable due to a relatively small range of motifs and colours.
Although the majority have provenance that go back to Transylvania, it is clear that they are of Anatolian origin as already mentioned discussed in the comment to lot 48. This is partly because of the lack of any proof of a local production and partly because the structure is consistent with other Anatolian weavings. Initially the trade was managed by Turkish merchants but after the granting of trade privileges to the local merchants in Moldavia and Wallachia by Mehmed II, the business was taken over by dealers from Transylvania. Large numbers of rugs were sold on markets, by established and itinerant vendors, and they were at times specifically sourced by agents in Turkey.
The earliest surviving rugs in Transylvanian churches, dating from the late 15th and the 16th century, are all types which were made for the local Turkish market. With the growing trade the Anatolian designs appear to have been changed specifically to suit the European export market. Most of the motifs in these rugs can still be clearly traced back to pure Ottoman styles but there is, however, an increasing stylisation and greater angularity of the design noticeable. No comparable rug has been found in Turkey itself. Rugs of the layout of the present example make the largest proportion of those found in regional churches and museums and are now known as 'Transylvanian' rugs. As the market grew they appear to have been woven in different parts of Turkey such as Ushak, Bergama or Kula and therefore employ a variety of weaving techniques (Marino and Clara Dall'Oglio, "Transylvanian Rugs - Some Considerations and Opinions", Hali, vol.1, no.3, 1978, pp.274-275).
The field design of the present rug follows a common pattern of stylised Ottoman features. Two comparables that employ the same colouring are illustrated by Ferenc Batari, Ottoman Turkish carpets, Budapest-Keszthely, 1994, p.145, pl.53 and 57. More interesting is the ivory rosette border seen in this rug which is very rare. A similar but far less stylised border can be found in an example in the Black Church (Stefano Ionescu, Antique Ottoman Rugs in Transylvania, Rome, 2005, p.135, cat.132) and in the Bruckenthal Museum Sibiu (Andrei Kertez-Badrus, Türkische Teppiche in Siebenbürgen, Bukarest, 1985, p.53 and pl.17). The rosettes in our rug are even more angular than the flowerheads in its field. Could it be that the weaver copied this pattern directly from a tribal Anatolian rug which was common and typical in his/her own village?