‘Transylvanian’ prayer rug
The National Museum of Art of Romania; The Art Collections Museum
Early 17th century
Wool; knotted; symmetrical knot
H: 176cm W: 112cm; knot density ver. 45/dm; hor. 41/dm; 1,845/dm2
The term “Siebenbürger” or “Transylvanian” rug recurs frequently in Oriental carpet literature. It is used to designate 17th- and 18th-century rugs preserved in large numbers in the Saxon churches of Transylvania, whose provenance has not been yet definitively established. Certain experts have indicated Transylvania as a possible source, whereas according to more research that is more recent they were produced in western Anatolia. Many “Transylvanian” rugs feature the mihrab design, typical of prayer rugs; in most cases though, the niche becomes a purely decorative element devoid of its original meaning, a fashionable motif popular with carpet buyers outside the Islamic world. This rug is a fine example of exquisite craftsmanship. The white field of the mihrab is decorated with floral motifs intertwined with geometric scrolls; a mosque lamp is hanging from the apex. Above the red spandrels decorated with similar geometric scrolls, a narrow rectangular panel features alternating tulips and cypress trees. Polygonal cartouches alternating with octagons fill the main border.
Donated as part of the Beatrice and Hrandt Avakian Collection
Dunca, Mircea, Covoare turceşti secolele XVII–XX, Bucharest: Muzeul Naţional de Artă al României, 1994: cat. 6.
Franses, Michael, In Praise of God. Anatolian Rugs in Transylvanian Churches 1500–1750, Istanbul: Sakip Sabanci Museum, 2007: cat. 18.
Ionescu, Stefano (ed.), Antique Ottoman Rugs in Transylvania, ed. II, Rome: Verduci Editore, 2007: 201.
Mircea Dunca "‘Transylvanian’ prayer rug" [db_in_citation_dca] 2019. http://carpets.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?itemId=object;DCA;rm;Mus31;3;en
Prepared by: Mircea Dunca
Translation by: Victoria Gheorghita
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: RO1_003