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-   1. Animal Rugs in Renaissance Paintings (http://www.turkotek.com/VB37/forumdisplay.php?f=27)
-   -   What are those? (http://www.turkotek.com/VB37/showthread.php?t=913)

Filiberto Boncompagni March 19th, 2011 11:08 AM

Hi Pierre,

In this close-up, that fringe in Gaddi’s «Calling of St Eloi» looks very strange indeed. Like something attached, and even not very well. :baffled:

I don’t think these rugs were invented. The last one, though, (FIG 5. Sano di Pietro’s adoration of the Child, 1460-1470, Kress Collection)


shows very curvilinear flowers and diamonds between the “animal compartments” that are both rather European and incompatible with the supposedly rough knotting that the overall design and supposed rows of knots should suggest.
Which could be an invented addition, or may be not… :baffled: :baffled: :baffled:



Yohann Gissinger March 20th, 2011 01:16 AM

coats of arms hypothesis
Hello Pierre,

Concerning FIG 1. T. Gaddi’s «Calling of St Eloi», 1360, Prado, Madrid and its pendant:

I bet on a reinterpretation of a coat of arms of Lusignan, kings of Cyprus and Jerusalem, under the form of a kind of flag with fringes;).

Here you can find a description of the cited coat of arms:
Here you can follow the evolution of the cited coat of arms (click crusades->9th->H.de Lusignan):

Note the interesting details on the painting, like the compass, a crown etc...

Concerning FIG 2. N. Buonaccorso’s «Marriage of the Virgin», 1380. National Gallery. London.

I would bet the same way, for an imaginary reinterpretation of something (maybe a rug?), in a coat of arms style, because of the main two colors yellow and red you can find in some italian armorial (Kingdom of Sicily for example) and because of the structure of the field with a central symmetry.

I didn't find a coat of arms with exactly the same design.

Bien à vous,

Filiberto Boncompagni March 20th, 2011 09:23 AM

Bonjour Yohann,

Those could be some clues. What about the two animals – one surmounting a snake and the other a bird - in Gaddi’s painting that I present again here for more convenience:
http://www.turkotek.com/old_masters/1360_T_ Gaddi.jpg

I couldn’t find anything about them. Perhaps you are luckier.


Pierre Galafassi March 20th, 2011 02:44 PM

Hi Yohann, Filiberto and all

Interesting intuitions! From both of you. (You must be smoking good stuff :angelic:).
The naive interpretation of coat of arms is indeed credible, including for the «lion and snake» or «deer and eagle» octagons.

The three interpretations of a «compass rose» on the rug also do ring a bell: This was about 100 years before any european-made compass, but surely one can find «stars» or «wheel spokes» in knight's armorials and similar motifs are also found in Central Asia for example. Here a detail of a flower (?) prominent both in the main field and in one border of the Pazyryk rug. No less!


Bon Dimanche.

Marvin Amstey March 20th, 2011 07:01 PM

Another thought about the fringe in the Gaddi painting: perhaps it was added as often happened with silk fringes added to 18-19c. Ghiordes rugs. In fact the image of the painting certainly leaves the impression that this fringe was an afterthought.

Pierre Galafassi March 21st, 2011 06:59 AM

Hi Marvin,
I agree, added fringes is the simplest and more logical explanation. Takes care of the strange direction of the lines.
By the way, is there a knot type (assuming perhaps thick pile wool and/or thick warps) which could explain such strong longitudinal lines?

Marvin Amstey March 21st, 2011 02:21 PM

The knot type that comes to mind is a Tibetan knot. On old pieces with very thick knots there appears to be some directionality. On the other hand, almost any knot will give that appearance with a lot of wear. Somehow I can't put Tibetan weaving together with the rug in the Gaddi painting in spite of the old animal rugs that were found in Tibet.

Yohann Gissinger March 22nd, 2011 01:18 PM

FIG 5. Sano di Pietro’s adoration of the Child, 1460-1470, Kress Collection:

Chinese texture and palette?
See figure 2 and figure 3 for some design similarities:


Filiberto Boncompagni March 22nd, 2011 04:49 PM

Hi Yohann,

Do you mean, they already started outsourcing to China on these days?
Thanks for the link – and what about the Kyoto carpets of Figure 8 and 9, with those pseudo-Kufic borders? :baffled:

Anyway… Pierre found a John Mills’ article from ICOC 1998.
I’ll quote parts of it:

The Early Animal Carpets Revisited
John Mills

The early animal carpets - and I prefer to call them that
rather than Anatolian animal carpets, which begs the
question as to whether they are in fact all Anatolian -
remain a fascinating if frustrating topic, mainly because
some of the design groups are known to us only through paintings
rather than in surviving examples. In the more than twenty years
since I last published on the subject there have been some
remarkable discoveries, above all of the ’animal within animal' type
discussed in Daniel Walker's paper of which no fewer than three
specimens have appeared, all of them coming out of Tibet. With
other types we are no further forward since then and not much
further forward since Erdmann published his long and pioneering
papers on them in 1929 and 1942. In my 1978 paper [Mills, J.,
‘Early animal carpets in western paintings-a review', Hali vol. 1
no. 3 (1978). 234-243] I grouped
the rugs simply by design motifs but suggested other ways in
which they could be divided up and this is how I shall treat them
now. Some of these groups need no more than a mentio, while I
shall discuss the largest and most enigmatic group more fully.

I come now to my main group, which I shall call the 'large
borderless carpets'. They show a number of designs, not all
animal, but they share so many other characteristics that one may
surely lump them all together. These characteristics are:
• Nearly all appear in Sienese paintings
• They are all placed on the floor
• Most are too large to have been made in one piece
• They have no borders, the field simply stopping at the edges
• They are of very coarse texture with clearly indicated
rows of knots or loops
• Mostly in yellow and red
These carpets may in turn be subdivided into a number of design

Where did these 'large borderless carpets' come from? Are
they Anatolian animal rugs as it has been customary to assume
or are they, as it seems to me, another kind entirely? Nothing
known survives of them, yet l still hope for the day when
some fragment will emerge, perhaps, from the vestry, or the
bottom of some storage chest, of some small Italian church.
Then at last we will know in what technique they are made,
for the Coarse linear texture so insisted upon by the artists
invites speculation. I once suggested that they were possibly

loop-pile weavings though now it seems to me that their large size
makes this less likely. In a recent repeat of this talk to the Oriental
Rug and Textile Society of GB several possibilities were discussed
(various kinds of flatweaves; North African carpets with their
multiple wefts) but the most suggestive was one that had
sometimes occurred to me but which I had not dared to voice,
namely that they were made in the technique of reed screens.
When detail slides are projected they do look astonishingly like
these. especially that in Sano's altarpiece ( Fig. 11). If this is so then
the likelihood of anything surviving would seem to be minimal.
This is the subject of Mills’ Fig.11 – the best I can do unless Pierre provides me with a better scan:

Sano di Pietro, altarpiece Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints,
mid 15th C. detail. The Collegiata, San Quirico d' Orcia, Italy. The 'two birds
and a tree' design here alternate with a non-animal pattern on an unusually
small carpet.



Filiberto Boncompagni March 22nd, 2011 05:03 PM

I also had previously asked John Howe to give me a digest of what Mills had written in his first article (‘Early animal carpets in western paintings-a review', Hali vol. 1 no. 3 (1978).

He kindly obliged:

Mills says that he has “silently changed many attributions that have long been found in carpet books to those which are currently favored…” But in fact he seems not to say much about attribution, and when he does he seems tentative and seems to admit lots of alternative possibilities (e.g., Byzantine rather than Turkish, Caucasian embroideries in one instance, says one similar group might have originated in Europe, perhaps in Florence itself, some he sees as likely Spanish, talks about lots of wefts between rows of knots and the similarity to Moroccan usages. He questions in more than one place what technique was used in the pictured pieces.)

Notice in my previous listing of his table headings that he does not include one for attributing where the pictured rugs were woven. It’s primarily a scheme for describing the paintings not the rugs in them (although he does have a category about whether knots are visible or not)

Thanks, John.


Pierre Galafassi March 22nd, 2011 05:50 PM

Orcia uuh? That’s near Siena right? Enemy territory for any real Fiorentino (even expat ones).
But perhaps an heroic friend of yours Filiberto, armed with a micro-camera could do some covert work in Val d’Orcia? Or perhaps Antonio (Scarano), if you reads us, could you jump on your horse and do some precious reconnoitering :angelic:?
A scoop on Turkotek, how would you like that Steve?

Yohann Gissinger March 22nd, 2011 08:13 PM


When I said :"Note the interesting details on the painting, like the compass, a crown etc..." i was thinking about the eventual symbolic meaning of the goldsmiths tools revealed by this strange perspective on the desk ( not a compass but a pair of dividers?).

Anyway this thread drove me to this interesting silk road chronology, I'd like to share: http://www.silk-road.com/artl/chrono.shtml.

Filiberto, my answer to your question about the China sourcing, is yes why not for rugs too?

Bien à vous,

Filiberto Boncompagni March 23rd, 2011 01:05 PM

Hi Yohann,

Your mentioning of perspective made me recall NOW that there is another perspective of Gaddi’s rug:
1360, T. Gaddi, St Eloi before King Clothaire, Prado


showing that the “thing” was modeled/sewed as a desk cover. Notice the fringe - that must be attached - going around the corner.
Gaddi’s desk cover seems different than the others “large borderless carpets” discussed by Mills, anyway.


Even if I manage to send some fellow Florentine behind enemy lines, I’m not sure it will help us to know more of what we do now.

While I am working on the “Tibetan” thread… any comment, anyone, about the Mills’ reed screen hypothesis?



Yohann Gissinger March 25th, 2011 01:34 AM


About the pseudo-kufic border in the chinese rugs fig.8 and 9 of the Thomas Cole article:


Thomas Cole article:



Pierre Galafassi March 28th, 2011 08:55 AM

Hi all,
A very late animal rug.

William Larkin was an early seventeenth century artist who painted a dozen of full length portraits of members of the English upper aristocracy belonging to the same family. The paintings feature a number of spectacular rugs. Larkin’s patron and likely owner of the rugs, perhaps the Earl of Dorset, might well be one of the Great Ancestors of the Ruggie family, together with Hans Memling and Cardinal Wolsey. We will come back to Larkin and «his» rugs in a later essay. Let me mention here only one of his paintings:

William Larkin. Portrait of Lady Dorothy Cary, ca. 1615. Kenwood House, London.

The beautiful carpet on which Lady Cary is standing (there is another one behind her) could have been one of the thirteenth and fourteenth century stylized animal rugs discussed in this thread. However, it would be insulting for British moths to believe that a rug could still be in this apparently pristine state after two or three centuries. Could the tradition of animal rugs have been kept alive for a while by the weavers of its original ethnic group?
Best regards

Filiberto Boncompagni March 28th, 2011 04:30 PM

Hi Pierre,

This painting (Larkin… Larkin... the name sounds familiar, doesn’t it?) is VERY intriguing.
Looking for better images I found that this one is cropped: some of the carpet is missing.
OK – First let’s have a look at an enlargement of what we have already:


Look at the “stars” main border of the hidden rug.

Now let’s see the enlargement of the rugs area from the other low-resolution but complete image.


And now, for comparison, a detail of a very modern soumak horse-cover from NW Persia or Caucasus I once had (I use it because the photo is at hand):


Are we seeing a Sumak rug? Or perhaps two because the two rugs have the same outer border. The “stars” main border of the hidden rug wouldn’t be too out of place in a sumak (look at Wertime’s “Sumak Bags of Northwest Persia & Transcaucasia”).
Last but not least…
Did you notice the Jaff-Kurd diamonds?


Pierre Galafassi March 28th, 2011 06:24 PM

Quote. Larkin… Larkin... the name sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

"Nomen est omen" as our common ancestors, Filiberto, used to say.


Yohann Gissinger February 28th, 2012 11:48 PM

Darned proof?
Hello to all,

http://www.turkotek.com/old_masters/FIG21.jpg http://www.turkotek.com/old_masters/FIG21_C.jpg
Compared to FIG 21: (Anonymous, detail from Virgin and Child, ca. 1350, Berlin) a "german" XIVc. linen table cloth embroidered with gold threads.

Notice the fringes like rugs.

http://www.turkotek.com/old_masters/FIG21A.jpg http://www.turkotek.com/old_masters/FIG21B.jpg

Best regards,

Filiberto Boncompagni February 29th, 2012 08:56 AM

Hi Yohann,
That’s a very ancient symbol:
In this case, I’ll go for the more recent, European, symbol i.e. as representation of the Holy Roman Empire.

The double-headed eagle is a common symbol in heraldry and vexillology. It is most commonly associated with the Byzantine Empire, the Holy Roman Empire and Russia.

Filiberto Boncompagni February 29th, 2012 09:12 AM

Post Scriptum: but the one in the painting could be very well a Byzantine textile too...

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