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-   5. Rugs in Paintings of the Dutch Golden Age. (http://www.turkotek.com/VB37/forumdisplay.php?f=48)
-   -   Scheunemann rugs (http://www.turkotek.com/VB37/showthread.php?t=2228)

Filiberto Boncompagni September 17th, 2013 10:37 AM

Scheunemann rugs
Hi Pierre,

Many thanks for another interesting research on the subject!

Of course, as the official Caucaso-maniac on board, I am at once interested in the “Scheunemann rugs”. I agree, the one in FIG 147 has a familiar Caucasian flavour.


I can even (je-sais-quoi!) pin down one of the familiarities: the minor white-ground border with stylized “S”: I have a rather uncommon Caucasian flat-weave bag (Tabasaran according to Gamzatov or Lesghi according to Nooter), wool on cotton ground, with a very similar border.


Nooter’s “Flat Woven Rugs and Textiles from the Caucasus” shows three others examples in plates 135, 187 and 188. The last two have small rhombuses between the “S” instead of rectangles as in the border in FIG 147. Here is the scan of plate #188:


A quick and by no means exhaustive search among Anatolian and Turkmen rugs (didn’t look into the Persian, though) offered no results. Which doesn’t mean a similar border could not emerge if one looks harder around in the wider Rugdom production, of course. Nevertheless it’s still a tiny connection to Caucasus, don’t you think?



Pierre Galafassi September 17th, 2013 04:05 PM

Hi Filiberto,

I agree with you and if «one je-ne-sais-quoi» nearly qualifies as proof in Rugdom, with two or three, we are as you’d say in your beloved Firenze «in une botta di ferro», there can hardly be any doubt left.:laughing_2:

You have surely noticed too
a) the resemblance of the (curvilinear) main field medallion in FIG 147 with the classical (but geometrical) Tschelaberd medallion , as well as
b) the secondary «dragon» border in FIG 205 (of course this border was not specific to Caucasian rugs, but surely at least as frequent there as in any other origin), or
c) the «spade» secondary border in FIG 201 and 202 (A border very frequent indeed in southern Caucasus rugs especially in Kazaks, but also (with a more precise design) rather frequent in classical northwestern Persian carpets. Not much used IMHO in any other rug weaving area.
d) the other (in addition to the one you just mentioned) variation of the «s» secondary border in FIG 205 again.

However, the hypothesis of a Caucasian origin has, to be frank, some weak points too:
a) Why did these rugs appear only in Dutch painting? Seventeenth century Dutch Navy and business were not really very active in the Mediterranean / Black Sea area and thus in the Caucasian area, were they?
b) As Marla observed several times in the past, motifs can be copied much more easily than structures. Here we don’t have a clue about rug structure at all. Mrs Ydema has the feeling that the Scheuneman motifs could have been inspired by motifs copied all around Asia. If that’s true, I think that such a "pot-pourri" would point the finger towards European-, probably Dutch weaving. I can’t well imagine a seventeenth century Central Asian- or Persian- weaver doing that in her remote black tent or yurt, can you?

best regards

Filiberto Boncompagni September 17th, 2013 05:27 PM

Hi Pierre,

Well, I know nothing about antique Dutch rug production.

What doesn’t convince me is the fact that IF those 17th century “imitation” or “pot-pourri” rugs really were really woven in the Netherlands or elsewhere in Europe, why they weren’t identified as such since the beginning? There should be some contemporary written references about their production somewhere, don’t you think?

An unknown origin outside Europe is much more logical, in my opinion. Not by weavers in a “remote black tent or yurt” as you say, but in cities or villages where rug production and mix and match of motives has always been a centuries-old tradition…



Pierre Galafassi September 17th, 2013 06:08 PM

Hi Filiberto,

Cit. "What doesn’t convince me is the fact that IF those 17th century “imitation” or “pot-pourri” rugs really were really woven in the Netherlands or elsewhere in Europe, why they weren’t identified as such since the beginning? There should be some contemporary written references about their production somewhere, don’t you think?"

Yes, there are documents about European rug production, but, (at least at the date of publication of Ydema's book) there was no description of such rugs made-in-Europe, nor any extant piece which could be analyzed. If I remember well, Ydema mentions also somewhere that not many many extant antique rugs of any kind were found in the Netherlands and faults the climate for it. As far as Scheunemann rugs are more specifically concerned, their relatively low knot- count would not help either, i suppose.

If we accept the pot-pourri theory, a production in villages in an area of Asia (preferably Persia or India) visited by Dutch ships could be, indeed an option, especially if we suppose that the rugs were made on order, specifically for sale to Europeans and based on composite design proposed by European buyers. I still have difficulties with the idea of composite rugs made on purely local Asian initiative. Sure, it did happen, including in the Caucasus (Seychur?), but that was a couple of centuries later.

Filiberto Boncompagni2 September 18th, 2013 12:36 PM

Anyway… The rug of FIG 147 doesn’t look at all as a “pot-pourri”. On the contrary, it has an authoritative self-assurance, so to speak.

It MUST be Caucasian! :monalisa:


Pierre Galafassi September 18th, 2013 01:48 PM

Hi Filiberto,

Full agreement on that "self assurance" which is also true, I think, for FIG 203 and 206. The absence of "horror vacui", the bold opposition of fiery shades are also what I like in the best Caucasian rugs. Indeed several of the "Scheunemann" rugs feature the same characteristics and would deserve the honor of Caucasian citizenship, wherever they were woven.

Let's agree that our suggestion is not more harebrained than the Rugdom average and perhaps even a trifle less. :cheers:

Filiberto Boncompagni September 23rd, 2013 01:48 PM

Hi Pierre,

Your last installment about the
Quest for the elusive Caucasian rug reminded me something that I forgot (not surprising with advancing age and a line of discussion that spans over years): the very same “S” or “inverted S” minor borders appears also on this Italian painting, a Portrait of a Young Nobleman, circa 1545 (LACMA, Los Angeles) Veneto-Lombard School:


together with the “Leaf and Wineglass” main border.

You showed also Schurmann’s plate 44, a Gendje rug with the same two borders.


I looked at the plates of most of my books on Caucasian rug and Schurmann’s Gendje is the only surviving pile rug with that “S” minor border I was able to find, although Bennett’s “Caucasian” has a flat-weave (a “Verneh”) with it (plate 479).

I decided to have a better look at Nooter’s “Flat Woven Rugs and Textiles from the Caucasus” and I found more examples so I have to correct my first post. Nooter shows SIX pieces with the “S” border NOT three:
Fig 22 (a khorjin) , Plate 107 (another Verneh, surprisingly similar to the one in Bennett), Plate 135 (a mafrash), Plate 187,188 and 194( all khorjins).

In conclusion, this minor border seems to be quite rare on Caucasian pile rugs but easy to find on Caucasian flat-weaves.

They say that flat-weaves are the real repository of Caucasian weaving tradition. Perhaps it passed out of fashion on pile rugs but it held its place among homely textiles? :felix:



Pierre Galafassi September 23rd, 2013 05:49 PM

Hi Filiberto,
I wonder whether this specific "S" border is frequent in extant classical Anatolian rugs or flat weaves as well or whether it could be seen as a Caucasian marker too?
Going to give it a look. (At least, as far as pile rugs are concerned, since my library is very poor on books about kilims).

Filiberto Boncompagni September 24th, 2013 10:41 AM

Hi Pierre,

Never mind. I searched your Anatolian database (529 images) and found at least 13 rugs with the minor border under discussion. :(
Two of them are associated with the Leaf-and-Wine-Glass border. They are mostly 16th-17th cent. If you want I can send you the list of them.



Pierre Galafassi September 24th, 2013 12:55 PM

"If you want I can send you the list of them".

Never mind Filiberto, this was the first place I rushed to.

Give or take a couple of pics and taking my bad eyes into account I agree with your numbers.
Can't always win, can we?:mad:

Horst Nitz September 28th, 2013 09:17 PM

Hi Pierre,

thank you for another gorgeous essay. I’d like to chip in with the image of the centre of a 15th c Ghirlandajo rug from the Lutheran church of Halchiu / Romania that I’ve processed so, that one looks at it from about the same angle as onto the Scheunemann rug you have been discussing with Filiberto. It is a pretty close match, I think, with its medallion as well as the S-border.


A full picture of the rug is depicted here as cat. # 3:


As intrigueing as the idea is, that the Dutch may have set up own workshops in order of securing a reliable supply for image portraits with carpets, the Scheunemann rug probably rests in the tradition of its own authentic habitat somewhere between East Anatolia, NW Persia and the Karabagh. You are probably right in suggesting, that the exact type of rug as in the painting is now extinct; but apparently this was not always so. Here, a rug from the former Pohlmann collection:


Pohlmann was a Jewish German citizen who probably resided in Berlin. I am unaware of what happened to him or his collection in the Nazi and WW II era, but may be able to find out in a little while. No colour image of the rug exists that I know of. The one depicted is taken from the V Gantzhorn (1998) book, German edition.


Horst Nitz September 28th, 2013 09:23 PM

Sorry, the pictures vanished due to mistake in editing at a late hour.


Steve Price September 28th, 2013 09:35 PM

Hi Horst

It's fixed.


Pierre Galafassi September 29th, 2013 08:14 AM

Hi Horst,

Thank you for the pics. Yes indeed, their medallions show good analogies with those of some of the Scheunemann rugs too. The palette of the "Romanian" rug seems different though, with its strong dominance of a golden yellow instead of the two indigos (strong and medium), saturated red and saturated orange which characterize the Scheunemann rugs. I'll try to find a color picture of the (interesting) second rug, if possible.

There is a misunderstanding though: I was not at all suggesting that the Dutch had established weaving workshops in Holland in order to secure production of studio props for the painters. (This seems highly unlikely to me too:laughing_2::,) but only reporting the documented fact that some rug weaving workshops, often small I guess, existed at the time (15th-17th century) in several countries of Europe, including in Holland, selling their production to upper class customers for the main usage of the time: as table decoration. Some workshops, like those of Ferrara or Mantova, were created by a local dynast or a member of his family and may have disappeared after his/her death. It is possible according to the mentioned experts, but not proven, that one of these Dutch workshops was the source of the Scheunemann's rugs. An Oriental origin, (including in Persia, India, Anatolia or in the area including the Caucasus for example), cannot be excluded though and would be my personal favorite hypothesis, out of purely romantic reasons:D.


Pierre Galafassi September 29th, 2013 08:24 AM

By the way,

Inside the main medallion of your second rug, one can see a smaller "Ghirlandaio" medallion.

Some rug experts have suggested that the Ghirlandaio medallion is a late evolution or a variety of the Crivelli medallion. For what little my opinion is worth, I do buy the idea of a possible parenthood. And since we (Filiberto and I) indicated some clues for a Caucasian origin of the latter....

Thin ice? Did anybody warn of thin ice?:D

Horst Nitz October 18th, 2013 10:20 PM


thanks to you Steve, for adjusting those brackets, and to you, Pierre, for the explanation. Actually, when I posted I thought I might be wrong in my interpretation of what you meant. In this new light it sounds very reasonable. This way the Dutch could probably establish an home market, cutting out the profits in the trading chain and the Venetian monopoly in the Levant trade. Famagusta on Cyprus was the principal port and the richest town in the Eastern Mediterranean at the time, I've learned from Wikipedia. I have been there quite a few times actually and always i am impressed by its forgone splendour.

It would be great if you could find a colour picture of the Pohlmann rug. Maybe I can find out more about it too, when the more active rug season begins and I can meet more people, among them some who might know something about it.

I’ve given the different palettes some thought too. Whilst the Ghirlandajo rug from the Halchiu church speaks for itself, the Scheuneman rug speaks to us in the interpretation of the painter, who after all was more concerned with the people than with the rug, which served as a status symbol (having the rug half tucked away is quite smart in this context). This interpretation is also prompted by the palette the painter uses. Its subdued tone-in-tone scale indirectly puts the portraits of the family in focus, and this is the paintings objective. Maybe we cannot wholly rely on the authenticy of the colours.

The two painters Ghirlandaio and Crivelli were contemporaries and probably used the rugs available to them that had freshly arrived, which in turn were contemporaries themselves, perhaps less than half a generation ahead of the painters, which puts them at around 1450. If one assumes that the Crivelli type of rugs precedes the Ghirlandaio rugs to an extend, that the latter can be regarded as a successor of the former, how does it fit in with the fact that the pictures are contemporaries, and which other rugs at the time of around 1350 or 1400 exist that could support the hypothesis, that the Crivelli is the tradition type to the Ghirlandaio? Is it likely at all, that rug production flourished between 1350 and 1400, at a time when Timur played havoc on the whole region? To me, much speaks for it, that the Crivelli and the Ghirlandaio patterns were more or less contemporary interpretations of a form considerably earlier, i.e. of the Ilkhanid period and its relative peace, or before.

I like your concept of ‘markers’ and will return to it.


Pierre Galafassi October 19th, 2013 08:42 AM

Hi Horst,

My search on the net for a color picture of the Pohlman rug has not been a success.

Your point about the possibility of Dutch painters taking liberties with the palette of rugs is well taken. Indeed, seventeenth century painters, contrary to their Renaissance predecessors, would rarely think twice before making such modifications based on their artistic ideas. On the other hand, the fact that several dozens of painters represented Scheunemann’s rug with a similar palette, leaves some hope that the representations were, often enough, genuine in this case.

You are right, the timeline of Ghirlandaio- and Crivelli- motifs in Renaissance painting makes the theory that the latter was the ancestor of the former difficult to sustain, unless both motifs had an old tradition. A weaving in the same- or in close geographical areas remains a credible option though.

About the impact of Timurid wars on rug weaving: Yes, there is no doubt that it must have been significant in many ways, for example due to the habit of Timur (and most other Asian conquerors) to relocate talented artists and artisans from the stormed cities to his capital and main cities (instead of using their severed heads for building pyramidal road signs). On the other way, the trail of destructions spared many parts of Anatolia, which, besides, was not occupied by the victors, leaving the vanquished Ottomans free to take back and quickly amplify their domination there. In Timurid "Greater Persia", after the time of destruction a «Pax Timurica» started, which was as beneficial to Art and Trade as the «Pax Mongolica» of the Il-khanids a century before, if somewhat shorter and a trifle less stable.

Best regards

Horst Nitz November 23rd, 2013 06:15 AM

Hi Pierre,

at last some progress. In summary, we seem to have hit on a very interesting, very small and very elusive group of rugs that was called rare a hundred years ago when more pieces seem to have existed. More on it later in the morning. Many thanks to Steve who has processed a few images for us already.


Horst Nitz November 23rd, 2013 04:06 PM

Hi Pierre,

it had haunted me that I knew I had come across that rug before somewhere, and that it wouldn’t want to spring back into memory where that was. It clearly needed outside input and I decided, with a print-out of the rug in hand I would make the round at the opening evening of the 2014 Volkmann-Treffen at the Berlin Museum of Islamic Art and seek counsel with whoever of the former curators and directors of the museum whom I knew to have an expertise with rugs, that might be present. Volkmar Enderlein was the first I bumped into. He knew instantly which rug it was and agreed that it might be older than 17th c as Erdmann had suggested, and with a smile he related, that Erdmann had had a reputation for making attributions on rugs he had not seen in reality. He must have been an early Turkotekker sic!

Later, reading up what Erdmann ( 1975, 4. Aufl.) had to say about the ‘Pohlmann’ rug, which was very little beyond the fact that it belonged to a rare group, made clear by implication why he suggested such a late date for the rug, which he attributed to the Ushak area and modelled on a Bergama rug. His reference for age attribution seem to be the early geometric animal carpets and compartemented animal carpets; hence, he sees in the Pohlmann rug a later form in which the dividing line between compartements had been given up. The older compartemented form, according to Erdmann, has lived on in some Bergama and Canakkale rugs.

Next one I talked to was Jens Kröger, who also immediately recognised the rug and who suggested that Friedrich Spuhler might know more.

He actually did, and nearly flabbergasted me when he suggested that he might have been functional in the transaction of the rug or some very similar one a long time ago. He promised to look into it for me. Last week a written note arrived with references. That was as joyous as much as it dismayed me, for now I knew where I had met that rug before, in Bode and Kühnel (2. bis 4. Aufl., 1914, 1922, 1955), all editions almost at arm’s length. Bode (1902) in his first edition of the same book already had a rug included, as plate 67, that is part of the same small group:


The next one is published as plate 38 in Erdmann (1975) where it says Bergama, 18th c, TIEM; in other words there may exist a coloured picture, perhaps in the Istanbul ICOC special catalogue I didn’t have time yet to check:


Friedrich Spuhler had another reference for me to a source equally within reach that is so rich, I never had found the time to go through it page by page. So, I am especially grateful for that prompt that also leads us to a marvellous and longed for colour picture of a rug of the group (Kirchheim 1993, Orient Stars, pl. 162):


The Pohlmann rug, unfortunately, remains illusive; and so does the Bode rug.



Horst Nitz November 23rd, 2013 06:41 PM

Yes, the 18th Bergama rug according to Erdmann (1975) is in the Istanbul 11th ICOC special publication 'Weaving Heritage of Anatolia Vol. 2' as plate 87. Its a good picture and I am at home again, which means far from a scanner.

Best, Horst

Horst Nitz December 11th, 2013 10:55 PM

This is the one, TIEM inv. no. 420, Double Medallion-Holbein Type, attributed to Central Anatolia, late 17th / early 18th c, from the Ulu Camii in Biga, Çanakkale, West Anatolia.




Horst Nitz December 31st, 2013 02:45 PM


in the discussion to a past salon I compared the structural data of another splendid rug with a bold geometric design and “halo”, the Brashov rug in the 2006 Transsylvanian Rugs exhibition in Berlin, with rugs from East Anatolia, Aserbaidschan and NW Iran. The outcome was, that the Brashov rug is more likely, or at least equally likely on basis of structural data, from that region than from the Usak region in West Anatolia – the most common attribution – or from the Karapinar area, in a tentative attribution by Alberto Boralevi.


With the Pohlmann rug and the Bode rug being vanished from focus to the rug world and the Orient Stars publication omitting structural data, the same comparative analyses is vain. There is the later rug in the ICOC volume, but the structural details are of a rug more than 200 hundred years later, and they seem to be flawed or use a somewhat different nomenclature that isn’t explained.

In the older rug literature, rugs of the Scheunemann type as in this discussion are also attributed to West Anatolia, Usak, Bergama, Cannakale. This tendency was probably started by Erich Kühnel (Bode W & Kühnel E (1914) Vorderasiatische Knüfteppiche, 2nd ed.) who saw in them the predecessor of the later Bergama rugs.

What happened in the period between the manufacture of the Crivelli / Ghirlandaio / Pohlmann / Bode rugs and those classical carpets, that are generally attributed to western Anatolia (and partially, in the last two decades in a more “modern” nomenclature to Central Anatolia / Karapinar) is highly important, probably, but has not been addressed as far as I am aware. I would like to focus on that issue in the neighbouring thread, the 'Quest for the elusive Caucasian rug.'



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