‘Transylvanian’ prayer rug
The National Museum of Art of Romania
Late 17th century
Wool; knotted; symmetrical knot
H: 160cm, W: 117cm; knot density ver. 28/dm; hor. 34/dm; 952/dm2
The term “Transylvanian” rug is used to designate 17th- and 18th-century rugs preserved in large numbers in the Saxon churches of Transylvania, whose provenance, considered once to be Transylvanian, is, in fact, western Anatolian. Some of these rugs feature the mihrab design, typical of prayer rugs; in most cases though, the prayer niche becomes a purely decorative element devoid of its original meaning, a fashionable motif popular with carpet buyers outside the Islamic world. Here, the plain red field of the mihrab contrasts with the main border richly decorated with alternating rosettes and palmettes encircled by lancet-shaped leaves – a simplified version of the classical court rug border. The flower on the pointed top of the mihrab symmetrically divides the composition with highly stylised carnations and serrated leaves represented in the yellow and blue spandrels; as such, different coloured spandrels are rather unusual.
Purchased from the owner
Dunca, Mircea, Covoare turceşti, secolele XVII–XX, Bucharest: Muzeul Naţional de Artă al României, 1994: cat. 12.
Dunca, Mircea, Islamic Art at the National Museum of Art of Romania, Bucharest: Muzeul Naţional de Artă al României, 2015: no. 3.
Ionescu, Stefano (ed.), Antique Ottoman Rugs in Transylvania, ed. II, Rome: Verduci Editore, 2007: 201.
Zigura, Alexandra, Covoare turceşti din colecţia muzeului, Bucharest: Muzeul de Artă al Republicii Socialiste România, 1966: 30–1.
Mircea Dunca "‘Transylvanian’ prayer rug" [db_in_citation_dca] 2019. http://carpets.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?itemId=object;DCA;rm;Mus31;5;en
Prepared by: Mircea Dunca
Translation by: Victoria Gheorghita
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: RO1_005