Old Turkish rugs draw global interest
Private collectors worldwide have begun investing in antique rugs.
Speaking about a rug-kilim auction held in London last month at Sotheby’s Auction House, a rug expert at the auction house said: “It is like when the value of paintings by a deceased artist increases. Old rugs began leaping forward in the antique market because the number of such rugs is gradually decreasing. They are included in private collections and have become an investment tool.”
In the latest auction, a Seljuk-era kilim (179x69 cm), which was made in the 13th century, was put up for auction with an estimated price of 28,000 British pounds but was sold for 309,000 pounds. (Photo 1)
A rug (229x110 cm) from the Central Anatolian province of Konya’s Karapınar district, which was made at the end of the 17th century and considered “mystic and legendary” in rug publications, was auctioned for 309,000 pounds as the estimated price was 40,000 pounds. (Photo 2)
A silvery rug (255x182), made in the 20th century in Hereke by Armenian masters for the Ottoman palace, found a buyer for 175,000 pounds. (Photo 3)
Although the estimated price was 5,000 pounds, a Konya rug in madder color (255x182) from the 17th century was sold for 125,000 pounds (photo 4), while another Konya rug from the same century found a buyer for 112,500 pounds. (Photo 5)
An Uşak rug (270x230), often seen in the Renaissance-era Italian painter Lorenzo Lotto’s paintings and known in the world as the “Lotto rug” (photo 6-7), was auctioned for 81,250 pounds.
A highly damaged two-piece Sivas rug (Photo 8) was on auction for 5,500 pounds but was sold for 50,000 after a long battle.
Many rugs, kilims and prayer rugs were sold in the auction, too.
Colorful and decorated Turkish rugs, which began reaching to Europe in the 13th century, have continued being a source of inspiration for painters until the 18th century.
Both the rugs and the paintings depicting these rugs were placed in European palaces, museums and churches. It is the same in the auctions in England and the U.S.
Following the Seljuk rugs, Turkish rugs had their heyday in the 16th century in the western province of Uşak and its vicinity. Until recently, there were one or two weaving looms at homes in Uşak. Especially young girls with thin fingers used to weave these rugs. The number of knots changed between 90,000 and 170,000 on each square meter.
Sümerbank, founded by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, in 1933, gave looms to girls to weave rugs and bought some of them. But Sümerbank now does not exist, ever since it was dismissed from its historic building in Ankara’s Ulus district. Which institute can continue this success of Sümerbank? What happened to those rugs? Do unemployed and talented girls know how to weave rugs?
Paintings depicting the Uşak rugs made by Johannes Vermeer, the Dutch painter of the famous “Girl with a Pearl Earring” painting, later became inspiration for other painters. The most famous work by Vermeer after this one was “The Music Lesson.” (Photo 9)
It is not known if the woman, who is playing the harpsichord, is the wife or the music teacher of the man, who is listening to her music. But the magnificent Uşak rug in the painting is fascinating. In her own work, Uşak local painter Nurcan Perdahcı highlights this rug. (Photo 10)
I wonder which of our readers have these priceless historic rugs. Which of them keep these rugs stored and use the machine-made rugs they see on TV commercials? Will we able to pass the magnificent Turkish rug business to the future generations? Why are rugs in mosques being stolen and smuggled abroad? These are questions I am curious about.