Prayer rug (fragment)
The National Museum of Art of Romania
Late 16th–early 17th century
Wool; knotted; asymmetrical knot
H: 154cm, W: 62cm; knot density ver. 53/dm; hor. 62/dm; 3,286/dm2
Although less than half the size of the original rug, the fragment is still one of the most remarkable textiles of the Islamic art collection in the Museum. Following the latest research, the original rug was reconstructed based on several well-preserved details (see the virtual reconstruction of the original design, ill. 1a). The mihrab, an essential element of the mosque architecture represented on prayer rugs, has been replaced here with a triple arch reminiscent rather of a gateway or the cross section through a mosque; the dome over the centre arch in the original design supports this hypothesis. The coupled-column motif could be traced back to the architecture of Muslim Spain, and was apparently disseminated by Sephardic Jews. Similar columns, whose bases are rendered in linear perspective, feature on 16th-century Ottoman prayer rugs some of which were imperial court commissions produced in Istanbul; others, as is the case here, were made in Cairo, where the tradition of Mamluk workshops continued long after the Ottoman conquest (1517). The asymmetrical knot is characteristic of Mamluk carpets, whereas the decorative repertoire is typical of Ottoman art. The original rug may have served as a prototype for “Transylvanian” coupled-column carpets dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries, which only comes to highlight the historical significance of this fragment.
Stylistic and technical analysis
Purchased from the owner (Teodor Tuduc)
Beattie, May H., “Coupled-Column Prayer Rugs”, Oriental Art, vol. XIV, no. 4 (1968): 243–58.
Boralevi, Alberto, “Column Rugs”, in Stefano Ionescu (ed.), Antique Ottoman Rugs in Transylvania, ed. II, Rome: Verduci Editore, 2007: 156–7.
Denny, Walter B., The Classical Tradition in Anatolian Carpets, Washington DC: The Textile Museum, 2002: 50–5.
Dunca, Mircea, Covoare turceşti, secolele XVII–XX, Bucharest: Muzeul Naţional de Artă al României, 1994: cat. 1.
Dunca, Mircea and Gherghinescu, Luiza, “Tuduc’s Coupled-Column Prayer Rug Fragment: A Virtual Reconstruction of the Original Design”, Oriental Carpet and Textile Studies VII, International Conference on Oriental Carpets, Selected Papers from ICOC X, Washington 2003 & ICOC XI (Istanbul, 2007): 133‒8, ICOC, 2011.
Mircea Dunca "Prayer rug (fragment)" [db_in_citation_dca] 2019. http://carpets.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?itemId=object;DCA;rm;Mus31;1;en
Prepared by: Mircea Dunca
Translation by: Victoria Gheorghita
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: RO1_001