This article was published in Studia et Documenta Turcologica, the journal of Universitatea Babeş-Bolyai, Institutul de Turcologie şi Studii Central-Asiatice.
In this study, I tried to explain the influence of the “Bird” sub-group of White Ground Selendi carpets in European art and lifestyle.
These carpets were depicted with a great degree of accuracy in paintings; the design was copied in the European workshops to create larger and “affordable” versions; these carpets were also forged to deceive collectors and museums and exploit the admiration for these highly-refined carpets. They were used as adornments in Protestant churches and were even depicted on the walls of mansions.
Today, this admiration seems unfailing. Visitors of Transylvanian Protestant churches in Romania still admire the beauty of these carpets; museum visitors become curious about these textiles that they see in paintings. People still hanker after these carpets in galleries and auction houses, thus perpetuating an everlasting desire to possess such prestigious objects.
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Ottoman-Turkish carpets have always been attractive objects for the Western market and had a great influence on European art and lifestyle. And, the White Ground ‘Bird’ Carpets of Selendi, without a doubt, were amongst the favourites. Despite their low knot-density and plain colours, they were appealing to the European taste and attracted people, creating a desire to own them. But, these carpets were amongst the most expensive products of their era, so they could only be bought by very wealthy people. Thus, while some people were actually buying and collecting these carpets, others were trying to imitate the feeling of ownership with their copies/fakes, or just through having them represented in paintings or depicted on their walls. They were also used as wall hangings or table covers in palaces and in nobiliary houses; they became the sole adornments of Transylvanian Protestant churches; also used as diplomatic gifts and dowry pieces. In this article, we will discuss a 16th and 17th century sub-group of Anatolian carpets called “White Ground Rugs”, probably woven in a small Anatolian town called Selendi, and how they influenced European art and lifestyle.