West Anatolia, 17th century Transylvanian Double Niche Rug
Standing in a direct line of descent from the 'small-medallion' or 'double-niche' Ushak rugs of the 16th century, these double-niche 'Transylvanian' rugs were woven during the 17th century in western Anatolia for the European export market. They are not especially rare, but few if any can match this superb cartouche-bordered rug, in near perfect condition, which was bought at Rippon Boswell in 1997 (HALI 94, p. 132), having previously been offered at Sotheby's in New York in 1992.
Only double-niche rugs of this designs' symmetrical on the vertical axis and with the characteristic cartouche border and four rosettes at the corners of the field“ were (together with the related prayer rugs) granted the 'Transylvanian' label in Emil Schmutzler's 1933 classification of the rugs that survived in the churches of the region (Emil Schmutzler, Altorientalische Teppiche in Siebenbürgen, 1933).
More recently, Stefano Ionescu (Antique Ottoman Rugs in Transylvania, 2005), has divided the rugs found in Romanian churches and museums into four different design groups, the numerically largest being those with variations on the double-niche design.
Conventional wisdom has it that rugs such as this 'second phase' example, with the cartouche-only border, post-date those with the more elaborate eight-pointed star and cartouche variant. Irrespective of whether it was made in the first or second half of the century, one rarely sees a Transylvanian rug in such pristine condition at auction.
The texture of the pile and its fresh bright colours remain almost as they were when it came off the loom. Even the edges are intact. Such a rug, which has been kept away from light and wear for more than three centuries, is a rare document showing us how it looked when it was woven.Condition: very good according to age, corroded brown, both ends slightly incomplete, original selvedge but slightly damaged at right side, minor small repairs, very good pile
Warp: wool, weft: wool, pile: wool
Size 158 x 120 cm (5' 2" x 3' 11")