February 26, 2024

The History of Vintage Turkish Rugs

Vintage turkish rugs have become a highly prized and sought-after commodity in the contemporary world of interior design. They offer a unique opportunity to acquire a rug that represents a particular time and place in history and carries with it the heritage of an entire culture. The art of rug weaving has been around for millennia, and the tradition is still very much alive today. The art of weaving and the designs that have been produced over centuries continue to influence the cultures that created them.

Vintage Turkish rugs represent an example of this cultural legacy, dating back to the thirteenth century when the Seljuk Turks ruled over Anatolia and introduced the practice of weaving to the region. This was a period of great advancements for rug design, with the layered and often stacked medallion patterns that have come to define this type of antique Turkish rug bringing a new level of artistic expression.

As the century progressed and the Ottomans began to seize control of the region, these rug weavers continued with the advance that had been made under the Seljuks and then further developed under the Timurid dynasty. The central medallion rug format would remain popular, but there were also many other advances that brought the craft to a whole new level.

One of the most significant changes that came about in the Ottoman era was the incorporation of rug designs that had been inspired by animals. These primitive and evocative rug patterns have come to be known as the “Holbein pattern,” named after the famous 16th century painter who used these motifs in his portraits of European nobility. The Ottoman era also saw the development of the Crivelli Star and Ghirlandaio styles, both of which played on the popular central medallion format.

As a result of the varied and complex history of this unique country, Turkey has been able to cultivate a wide variety of distinct regional rug styles. Milan-based carpet dealer Alfredo Levi explains that the three main types of Turkish rugs are kilim, characterized by a plain slit tapestry weave; sumak, which utilizes weft wrapping to create a more dense, sturdier flat-woven rug; and cicim, which incorporates extra brocade techniques for a more ornate, decorative woven fabric.

This wealth of rug traditions and the ensuing fusions that have taken place over the years has led to an astonishing array of choices for interior designers seeking to incorporate vintage Turkish rugs into their spaces. From tribal kilims that offer a glimpse of a bygone era to the flowing Safavid-style arabesques of Hereke, there is a Turkish rug for every type of room and design.

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