This rug is an extremely rare example of the well-known and documented group of double-niche small medallion Ushak rugs of which a considerable number have survived from the 16th and 17th centuries, yet within the group there are many variants. All the different elements are variable; the medallion, the spandrels, the border and the guard stripes, although some versions tend to be found combined with particular versions of other motifs, (Kurt Erdmann, The History of the Early Turkish Carpet, London, 1977, p.38). Nearly all of the documented group, of which according to Erdmann there are over 150 examples, are woven with rich tomato-red fields with various ornamental decoration. The open green ground of the present lot therefore appears to be unique in the group, thus making it extremely rare. The closest related rug to contain a relatively large amount of green within its design, is a rare pole-medallion Ushak carpet formerly in the Christopher Alexander Collection and later sold in these Rooms, The Christopher Alexander Collection, 15 October, 1998, lot 205. The shaded green abrashes that run through the field of the present lot are contrasted with the lemon-yellow quatrefoil medallion in the centre that uses a subtle ton-sur-ton play of colour within the pale yellow flowers which are picked out against the more golden yellow ground. Another unusual aspect of this rug is the blocked band of pale pink within each of the corner spandrels which frames the green field, making it stand in even greater relief.
There is a thin pale pink stem that connects the medallion to a similar coloured pendant in the niche above that is slightly larger than most. This small singular device is of particular interest. Some scholars argue that these elements, found in variations on other carpets of this type, represent the lamp that is found in the mihrab of a mosque. It is conceivable that this element does indeed represent a glowing prayer lamp. Others define this device as an amulet, used to alter the "perfection" of the carpet and to ward off the evil eye (W.B. Denny, The Classical Tradition in Anatolian Carpets, Washington, D.C., 2002, p.83). Amulets were also commonly found in mosques and served the same purpose.
The border design on the present lot unusually begins with a design of angular polychrome hooked petalled flowers that is not normally associated with this group but is found in some earlier Holbein rugs but also on a later 17th century fragmentary rug published by Hüulya Tezcan, Sumiyo Okumura and Kathleen Hamilton Gündogdu (eds.), (Weaving Heritage of Anatolia, 2, Istanbul, 2007, pl.75, p.97).
The present rug has slightly lost the accuracy of drawing seen in the earlier examples, such as the following lot in the present sale, and was likely woven at the end of the 16th or beginning of the 17th centuries. This carpet once belonged to the internationally renowned art dealer Friedrich Karl August Hüelsmann from Hamburg, Germany.