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Old April 3rd, 2011, 03:14 PM   #1
Filiberto Boncompagni
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Cyprus
Posts: 92
Default The “Crivelli” rug

As Pierre wrote in his essay:

“A fourth group, illustrated only by two Crivelli paintings (ca. 1482-1486), incorporates recognizable birds, but only as secondary motifs in a dominant geometric pattern. There is a "normal" border in one of them. We know of only one extant Crivelli fragment (15th century, Budapest Applied Art Museum).”

here is an enlarged detail of the second painting

depicting a similar but not identical rug.

Milberg suggests that the paintings show the two slightly different halves of the same two-medallions rug.

Here is the Batári-Crivelli (from Ferenc Batári, the Ottoman Turkish carpet expert, who gave it the name "Crivelli rug" in a 1984 study) rug fragment, 15th century, from the Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest, commonly considered as an Ottoman Turkish carpet.

But, according to Milberg, there are more: one “was found in a mosque in Savrihisar (Turkey) by Nejat Diyarbekirli (Hali 6/4, p. 459). The 16-point medallion occupies a light red field which it shares with spandrels of mixed design. A main border consisting of Greek crosses is surrounded by a double pearl (88) border. Bird forms but no latch-hooks appear. The rug may well date to 1400 but is so crudely rendered that Crivelli would have disdained it.”

then ”Two other groups of pile weavings featuring similar medallions are known. Single-warp knot Spanish carpets attributed to the 15th century (but with more than 16 points) are to be found in several museum collections.4 And, as if to balance these early Western rugs, a new group from Kazakhistan were published by M. S. Mukanov in Oriental Carpets and Textiles Studies (0.C.T.S.) I, p. 161, fig. 7. Neither group displays bird forms nor latch-hooks and so should be regarded as derivative.

What is more important is: The largest group of rugs bearing 16-point medallions are to be found in the Caucasus. And here they are found in kilim, soumac, and pile structures. suggesting a northern Caucasian (nowadays Kuba/Daghestan) origin.

We are further indebted to Ibn Khaldun for preserving a document from Abbasid times, and a map from his own. The document lists the revenues in coin and goods rendered to the treasury at Baghdad from the contributary regions about A.D. 786 (op. cit., Vol. I, pp.361-365). Of the 34 regions listed, three gave partly in rugs as follows:

a) Armenia - Embroidered carpets: 20
b) Ifriqiyah (Tunisia) - Carpets: 120
c) Tabaristan - Tabaristan carpets: 600 pieces.
His map (p. 110) locates Tabaristan north of Armenia and west of the Caspian Sea. The Arabs frequently incorporated Christian (Caucasian) Albania within the designation "Armenia" (see Encyclopedia of Islam, Vol. I, p. 443). The region south of the Caspian Sea is better known for its production of silk than for wool. Some 200 years ago a colony of Kurds were settled at Kalardasht. These continue to produce carpets on a small scale. No other rugs from this region are known.

In the 14th century both Genoa and Venice maintained caravansaries in the port of Trebizond. Here valuable merchandise of many kinds, including textiles, were stored. This city, older than Rome, that had offered salvation to Xenophon's beleaguered army, was the eastern outpost of the West. Armenian merchants in the rug trade could have conveyed them to Venice via this port until A.D. 1461. Forin that year this last "Greek Empire" finally succumbed to the armies of Islam. If Crivelli's rug arrived by this route, it was old when he first painted it. Perhaps he acquired his first rug, second hand, in the Ghetto. But to say more is to flirt with Folly.

I quoted this old article because it offers a further hypothesis connecting “animal rugs” with origins different than the commonly acknowledged Turco-Anatolian which, as far as I know, is assumed by default but never really proven.

There is another extant rug that I’d like to connect to the Crivelli family:

According to the webpage where I found it, the rug (in Berlin, Museum fur Islamische Kunst) is “newly attributed to the Nachivan region of Greater Armenia and dated to ca. early 1400s”

There is no mention of who is the responsible for the new attribution and dating other that the note “Unpublished until Spuhler, who does not believe that this is an early animal carpet (he dates it to West Turkey, ca. 16th-17th century)”.

Interestingly, Marla Mallett notices that the animals in the centers of the stars are articulated completely with offset knotting, as shown in this close-up that I borrowed from her web site

while the rest of the rug has normal knots.


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