A Rare Anatolian Border
Here are three Anatolian rugs with closely related borders. I believe rug
borders are often specific markers for cultural identity. I theorize that a
rug’s border embraces the field of the greater family, one’s tribe or clan.
The third rug pictured below is in my collection. There are very few published examples of rugs with this border; so it is rare to see three rugs with this border pictured together. The first two rugs have been previously published on Turkotek.
My rug seems to be the latest of the group, stylistically speaking, but its’ execution seems to be in a direct line of descent with the other two. I date my rug to the late 18th or early 19th century. The first rug looks like a 16th century rug to me, based purely on my aesthetic feelings. The second rug can be late 17th to middle 18th century, again only “in my opinion”.
Certainly these are rare rugs. Their borders seem to be derived from flat weave or kilim antecedents. I see large imposing bird forms inter-digitated with totemic devices represented in all three borders.
I would be interested to hear of alternative explanations concerning the derived relationships I have outlined above.
Would you agree that a version of the border has been carried on by certain Turkoman groups, and others as well, in the form of the so-called "boat border?"
Your opinion would fit nicely with my diffusion hypothesis, as stated in several of my most recent articles. In cases like this it isn't easy to know what comes first, the cart or the horse!
I wasn't so much suggesting a dispersal of the design as I was inquiring whether you thought the "boat border" represented a continuation of the design. That is, is it the same design, perhaps of later vintage in most cases? I note that the three you've posted take a somewhat undisciplined approach to the drawing of that border, with top honors going to #1. The Turkoman versions, and others from that more easterly region, are usually quite "regular."
In addition, I'm not sure which of your comments are the ones for which you solicit alternative explanations. That borders are specific markers for cultural identity? If so, do you mean in a totemic way, as is widely asserted for the Turkoman design vocabulary? Are you seeking alternate views about whether the three pieces are in a direct line of descent? (I wouldn't think so.)
By the way, it's always a pleasure to be reminded of the wonderful visual power of old Anatolian weavings.
I think #2 & #3 are probably related by geography as they have similar
colors and sympathetic designs. #1 looks to be the oldest and I think it is from
farther east than the other two. I think #2 & #3 are from the Bergama region
and #1 from the Oushaq area. The true age and descent of Turkoman designs isn't
known and may be of greater antiquity than is popularly thought. I firmly
believe that designs were shared among diverse groups by diffusion of peoples
and marriages. Here is a mid 18th century Yomud carpet with a "boat" border for
You're always full of surprises. I would have said the pallettes of #2 and #3 were rather different.
That is a sweet Yomud, and it illustrates the precision one finds among them as regards that border.
The power of early Anatolian rugs is certainly illustrated by the three weavings here. There is a curious thematic development in carpets and rugs, in which some designs tend to become more complex and ornate over time, while in other weaving traditions designs are diluted and stylized over time. "Dragon carpets" are a case in point, with 19th Century Bidjov rugs a geometric representation of previously ornate weavings. Rug #1 stands as an example of a "simple meander" border that has great power, precisely in its spacial simplicity. Rugs #2 and #3 have related borders, in which the design has become more ornate yet observably less graceful. The borders of all three rugs bear a greater connection to pile carpet motifs than to kilim motifs. Rendering kilim motifs in pile form is certainly a common phenominon, especially among Konya region weavings. Wholesale rendering of kilim motifs in pile seemed to take place with some frequence around 1800 onwards, and seems to reflect homage to the simple power of an earlier kilim weaving tradition. At the same time, pile motifs have also been represented in kilim form, all-be-it in simplified, due to the greater difficulty of rendering ornate forms in flat-weave. Separating out these temporal processes is probably as much guesswork as scholarship, based on aesthetics. In the current 3 examples, we have one stand-out, #1, while #3 also seems to reach a very high degree of "art" - yet in a more ornate and "busy" form. Its an interesting study in how some weaving traditions increased the "complexity" of design, without increasing aesthetic merit, while in other traditions, design complexity declined right along with aesthetic merit. BTW, the boat border on the Yomut piece is not as good as it gets. Jim's example is wonderful, yet in a simplified form from earlier examples, which were down right wild.
I believe these are all excellent observations you have made. I have noticed the same waxing and waning of designs over hundreds of years among the Turkoman tribes as well. I don't feel very strongly about the boat in these boat borders. Do you have a theory concerning their possible origin? Jim
Here another set of peculiar figures. I wonder whether they are related to the little green one in the upper border of plate #1. As you may have guessed, the kelim is tribal Obruk, 1st half 20th century.
I was very interested to see this thread, because it reminded me of an old Anatolian rug I have that has an interesting border with some similarity to the ones you posted. I've never been able to decide just where this rug fits geographically; the design seem more like western anatolia, but the palette seems to fit better with eastern. The border is clearly based on a meander pattern---follow the dark brown elements of the border. The end borders remind me somewhat of your examples. The side borders are different, and seem to me to have so much in common with the "boat" borders of old Turkmen rugs that there must be some connection---more likely through some common ancestral design, rather than derivation of one from another. I'd be interested in your interpretation, and that of other readers as well.
I don't know what to say about the border, but that is some rug!
There is a local legend in the Bergama region that in the mid 18th century a
horde of Salor? Turkmen made their way across Anatolia to settle in Soma near
Bergama. This was not a friendly take over by any means but one can see remnants
of old Salor nomadic designs in the older examples from this area. I have a late
18th century Soma whose field is deeply dyed with lac. Lac disappeared from
Anatolian weavings with the introduction of cochineal around 1800. This rug was
kept as a heirloom and is in magnificent shape. Its border isn’t from the group
under discussion however it does have field iconography that is obviously
Turkoman derived. I wrote a short article about this subject and you can look at
I believe the rug you posted is in the same design lineage that the other posted rugs belong to and it is likely early to mid 19th century, probably from the Bergama region
I am not sure about the border in your rug and how closely it is related to the other specimen; your rug seems a good and rare example of early Yörük work and, this probably is why it seems to integrate west as well as east Anatolian aspects, as you have observed yourself. If you can get your hands on copies of Brüggeman and Böhmer (1982) and Schürmann (1979) you may find plate 19 of the former, and (especially) plate 79 of the latter giving you further ideas on your rug.
Plate 88 in Brüggeman and Böhmer (1982) depicts a border that can be regarded as being related to the first two rugs in this thread and, possibly, to the two figures with Micky Mouse ears in the Obruk kelim as well as the rug Lloyd has posted.
I can't help but speculate that your rug's central design reveals an extension or elaboration of typical kejebe Turkoman designs. Your border, while extremely simplified, still resembles similar Turkoman meander borders as well as those published here in this post. Jim Allen
Hello Jim and All,
With due respect to the Turkotexperts, I don't think it is necessary to go quite so far afield to find relatives and (perhaps) antecedents to this interesting trio of rugs. This example,
is identified as an 18th century Konya. It has a not dissimilar border and in addition something of the same character in its field.
Submitted for your consideration!
Your rug is quite interesting. Here is a picture of the Soma main carpet that
I date to the late 18th century. Its borders are quite similar to your
What are we to make of such rare border designs? Just guessing; but if one considers the likely outcome of a marriage between an Armenian lady and a Turkoman Khan it stands to reason that what she produces in her lifetime would be greatly altered in the next generation and so on and so forth till her initial design became totally unrecognizable. This doesn’t mean that her initial design becomes chaotic, just the opposite. The evolutionary drift of such a design would be away from the initial frame of reference towards a sensible reincorporation of the evolving design into the normal day to day visual language of a nomadic life.
If the foregoing logic is true then the few old examples of well worked out but
quixotic rugs might turn out to be the most important of all ethnographic weavings. These cross fertilized weavings might indicate the origin, age, and dissemination of many novel and poorly understood nomadic design complexes.
maybe this is a common predecessor:
(from: (http://www.turkotek.com/mini_salon_00016/salon.html )
Richard, Jim, Horst, Others:
Thanks for the feedback on my rug. During the week, I realized that the topic of the upcoming (now yesterday's) Saturday Morning Rug and Textile presentation at the Textile Museum was "18th and 19th century Anatolian rugs," by Harold Keshishian and Michael Seidman. Those who attend these presentations are encouraged to bring related rugs, so I took this one. No one there was willing to be too confident in attributing it. However, Harold Keshishian said that he would tend to rule out eastern Anatolia simply because of its size (it is about 5 feet by a little over 7 feet--about 150 cm x 220 cm)---that you almost never find an eastern Anatolian rug that big---so his best guess was western Anatolia, pre-1850.
The three Anatolian rugs that Jim Allen posted have, in my opinion, only two things in common: each has a border with a meander variation and each is Anatolian. Meander borders are not particularly rare. In fact, given the rather large number of early Anatolian rugs with them, it seems that meander borders must have been rather common.
In some instances the meander is formed by a distinct line and in other instances the “line” is where two reciprocal designs intersect. The images posted by Lloyd Kannenberg and Horst Nitz are generally of the latter type. More important, as Lloyd observed, it is not “necessary to go quite so far afield to find relatives.”
The TIEM in Istanbul has a fabulous collection of historical rugs. Even the most casual perusal of that collection reveals dozens of rugs (from several different centuries) with meander or meander-related borders. Many are Central Anatolian (Ushak, Konya, Ladik, Karapinar, etc.) but there are also “Caucasian” examples. One 16th Century Bergama with a Holbein field has a border that may distantly relate to Bob Emry’s border. The field in Bob's rug is also related to the 2-1-2 Holbein group.
Meanders can be found in virtually every weaving tradition as well as in metal work and ceramics.
Anyone who is seriously interested in oriental rugs and their history should become familiar with the TIEM material. 119 of the TIEM rugs are illustrated in Weaving Heritage of Anatolia 2, one of two volumes in the official catalogs from the ICOC in Istanbul last year. The title “Weaving Heritage” applies beyond Anatolia to much of the weaving world. A few other books also illustrate some of the TIEM objects, but not as well.
While I may not see the connection between the three rugs originally posted, I firmly believe that discussing earlier rugs of these types is extremely useful and beneficial.
Would you hazard a comment as to the quality of the illustrations in the Weaving Heritage 2 catalog? Also, a suggestion on how and where it can be obtained?
Dennis Marquand is the distributor for The Weaving Heritage of Anatolia. He offers the two-volume set for $295 on his website:
The plates are above average in quality. The private collections objects in Volume 1 are essentially not published elsewhere. The reproduction of the TIEM objects in Volume 2 is better than you’ll find anywhere else and much more comprehensive.
In my opinion, the set is essential to any textile library.
Hallo Robert – and all
You say in your contribution you have problem to find the correct origin of the rug.
This rug is woven in a small village some 45 km west of Konya. This area is an important weaving center for traditional village rugs.
The name of the village this rug comes from is Bashara Kavak. The other important villages in the neighborhood are Derbent, Kecimuslu, Inlice and Cigil.
I have visited those villages several times, between 1984 and 1995, where I have been the guest in several homes and visited the mosques of the villages.
The rugs made in the entire area until the 1920:s, gave an old and genuine impression.
The patterns used are closely related to each other, but with variations.
I`m dating your rug to1850 or earlier. This judgment is based on what I have seen earlier.
Now, here is a selection of similar items:
No 1: The image of this rug from Bashara Kavak is taken in the museum in Konya and the rug has the same age as yours.
No 2: The photo is from the same museum, but the coloring is paler. Some of the colors are synthetic dyes. The period of time for this one can be 1880-1915.
No3: The image is taken in the mosque in Bashara Kavak 1984. Age: 1880-1900
No4: This special yastik-pattern was used only in Bashara Kavak until 1920.
This yastik with the dark colors is from the 1875-1890. It was found together with 8 other and similar ones in an old room, used for guests during the 1800:s
No5: The picture of this very unusual and thrilling yatak was taken in a rug shop in Konya 1989. There were some elderly dealers, and the final conclusion was that this item with all certainty was from the early 1800:s and it´s origin definitelly from Bashara Kavak. This is an unique rug. The archaic pattern and the
choise of colors is a result of a master-weaver behind the loom.
Akrep Oriental Rug Society
Hello Mr. Berntsson:
Thanks to your detailed response, I can now be quite confident in attributing my rug to Bashara Kavak. It clearly belongs to this distinctive and well-circumscribed group. And, with your first-hand information to pinpoint the geography, I have quickly progressed from guessing what region of Anatolia it might be from to a more precise attribution than is usually possible for any rug.
Thank you for your interesting information, and especially for the images.
As always my friend Sonny is a wealth of knowledge and is a light into the darkness. For those of us who still read books: in 1979 Ulrich Schurmann in Oriental Carpets, pg. 79, first showed a rug with this border and I have seen another of the same exact type at Sotheby's Los Angeles at about the same time.....not since.
Sonny seems to be correct with his attribution to Kavak, but the other villages mentioned, to the best of my knowledge, do not use this design construct.....or even type of wool or coloring. In some ways it is rather unique to the area. There is another single medallion design construct that is typically found in Karapinar that also uses this border, colors and weave, but is most likely also woven in this area.....I own one and it seems unique to the group. I may be able to supply an image at a later date.
It should be noted that these rugs, unlike many Central Anatolian types, share many features with east Anatolian rugs....which I shall address in a future publication......It is highly possible that over many generations of forced settlements, etc. these groups migrated to this region from eastern Anatolia. Also certain villages were populated by Turkmen and the story of their contribution to the weavings of this and other areas is still up for discussion. Anyway, thanks for Sonny's insight through his years of dedication and interest in the subject........Brian Morehouse
Hello again Robert and Brian
The images below maybe give us an explanation about the development of the pattern used in the village Bashara Kavak during all 19th century and probably earlier.
Brian, I looked in my notes about Bashara Kavak and noticed that I had information that this Turkmen tribe arrived from Caucasia more than 10 generations ago.
You have found parts of this pattern that I have not seen from Caucasia or East Anatolia. But the colours are often seen in east where the brown-red-violet shep are in majority.
Maybe you are right, try to find the pattern from East Anatolia or Caucasia in your collection, that would give us an explanation.
I found some images with this pattern and the rugs are older then those I found in the Konya-village Bashara Kavak.
Probably 18th century.
With animal-ornaments. The rug seems at first look woven in West Anatolia, but many rugs are by mistake told to be from West Anatolia when they in fact are from Central Anatolia. For example, look at the centre ornament, this ornament is only found in village rugs from Central Anatolia since 18th century and was used in stilized form until beginning of 20th century.
This rug has pattern and colours like a Bergama-rug or some other rug from West Anatolia with its typical geometric pattern. But this rug is stilized compared to image 1.
A rug with colours common in village rugs from East Anatolia around Bingöl and Tunceli during 18-19th centuries. But can also be seen in rugs from Konya – Karaman and the pattern is typical Bashara Kavak. Look at the central ornament only found in Central Anatolia.
A rug from mid 19th century and probably from Bashara Kavak ( look at the central ornament, which is their sign, and compare with the yastik I show above in my earlier reply ). The border is often used in Bashara Kavak but also and only in Karapinar – Karacadag some 130 km east. Probably there is a relationship with the people as their pattern and colours are similar.
A younger rug from Bashara Kavak, probably from early 20th.
Here you can see the same border and the typical centre ornament. The colours have changed to more light, which happened in all village areas when the synthetic colours started. A mix between their old natural colours and synthetic.
To follow up on Sonny's concept of the medallion in the rugs he presented: They are traditionally found in the examples he posted, but they can also be found in simple form inside the medallions in : Yastiks..pg.53 #75-76.
What is most important in this discussion, besides the issue of the border, is gathering information about the traditions and origins of the people who made them......knowing that the Turkmen settled in Kavak over 10 generations ago helps clarify our understanding of their design preferences and borrowing of traditional elements from the areas visual vocabulary; however trying to follow their contribution in Anatolian weavings is a daunting task, but one that needs clarification. It is unclear just what they contributed, but one thing seems certain they reformulted their Turkmen carpet concepts used in Turkmenistan for Anatolian motifs. That is why it is so difficult to fully define origins........not everything is as it may appear.
If anyone has further information on the Turkmen in Anatolia.....villages, areas, etc....I would love to hear about it. Sonny and I will be discussing these issues later in the year and hope anyone else who has imformation, especially about the Turkmen in eastern Anatolia would please email me at: email@example.com.........thank you......Brian Morehouse
Barry O'Connell has published a Karapinar carpet attributed to the 17th
century that has a very closely related border to the group under consideration.
Compare the somewhat rhomboid forms at both ends of the rug illustrated below to
my rug pictured at the beginning of this thread. That combined with the
similarity of elements within the meander of the border raises several
interesting questions. Let me remind everybody that condition is not a good
indication of age. Great rugs were historically treated with great respect and
some of these have come down to us in surprisingly good condition. Jim