Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Late 19th or early 20th century
Wool, cotton; symmetrical knot
173.5cm x 121cm; knot density 4,200 dm2
A lamp stands out against the indigo field of the prayer niche (mihrab) shown on this high-pile rug. Featuring a foliated scroll pattern, the olive-green spandrel is supported by two columns. Carnations decorate the upper level of the niche. A series of rosettes and palmettes interspersed with arabesques covers the ivory ground of the main border. This rug, which has 4,200 symmetrical knots per square decimetre, was made in Turkey during the first quarter of the 20th century. Positioned facing Mecca, the rug ensures the purity of the place of worship and creates a separate space for praying. Long ago, Muslims kneeled down and prostrated themselves on palm-frond mats or sheepskins. The field of a prayer rug usually shows a stylized representation of a mihrab, a niche made in the wall of a mosque indicating the direction of Mecca, towards which the faithful turn to pray.
Stylistic and comparative analyses
Gift of Mrs Charles F. Martin
Gift of Mrs Charles F. Martin, Montreal, Quebec, in 1944, but retained until her death in 1956
Iten-Maritz, J., Turkish Carpets, New York and Tokyo: Kodansha, 1977: 82‒5.
Ittig, Annette, Rêves tissés: tapis d’orient de la collection du Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal / Woven Dreams: Oriental Carpets from the Collection of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1994: 38‒39.
Neff, I. C., and C. V. Maggs, Dictionary of Oriental Rugs, Capetown: Ad Donker, 1977: 55‒6.
Shirin Shafiee "Prayer rug" [db_in_citation_dca] 2019. http://carpets.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?itemId=object;DCA;ca;Mus31;8;en
Prepared by: Shirin Shafiee
Copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: CA1_008