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Antique Turkish Rugs: A Guide To Antique Turkish Prayer Rugs

What is  a Prayer Rug?

As long as Oriental carpets have been admired in the West there has been a facination with the Prayer Rug. Still what makes an Oriental rug a Prayer Rug is a question for many people. One fellow  I know dithers about that question ad nauseum. Rather than worry about that I am going to pull together my notes on the Oriental rugs called Prayer Rugs and we can sort out whether they are or not later.

Bursa Prayer Rugs

The James F. Ballard Late 16th Century Bursa Prayer Rug

The James F. Ballard Late 16th Century Antique Bursa Prayer Rug

Ghiordes Prayer Rugs

Gördes is a District in the Provionce of Manisa in Western Turkey. It has been a center of weaving at least since the eighteenth century. Ghiordes prayer rugs were extremely popular up until the 1920s.

The Ghiordes Knot is the common symmetrical knot over two warps.

Ghiordes Prayer Rug

Antique Ghiordes prayer rug, lot 65


Sam Gordon on Anatolian prayer rugs from Melas, Kula and Giordes

"the following was reported by Werner Grote-Hasenbalg in :"Der Orientteppich" Band 1, page 83, with my liberal translation: "Now something brief about the value of Anatolian prayer rugs from Melas, Kula and Giordes: Bode rejects these completely and Martin said 'Some collectors of prayer rugs, especially in Germany, think perhaps that I devote too few words to these prized rugs. But I claim that these are artistically and of such little value, that one actually does not need to waste more words on them." (my emphasis). Grote-Hasenbalg then asks (apologetically?), "Why shouldn't one collect these carpets since these are typical, beautiful representatives of their class?" Further he states, "However, one must demand from them: really good condition and not some old rags around which a new rug has been created" (my emphasis). I would assume that the last is an obvious commentary on the aforementioned practice. Above all, it illustrates how sternly this late 19th century "Oriental Carpet Mafia" responded to the competition of the Anatolian prayer rugs to their merchandise!!! It may well be assumed that these academicians had a stern dedication to self-welfare!!!" http://home.earthlink.net/~gordsa/page4.html

  Antique Kirsehir and Mucur Prayer Rugs

Those of Kirsehir and Mucur have niches with double or triple outlines and their colour schemes include two or three tones of red." From The art of Turkish carpet weaving by Oktay ASLANAPA

Konya Prayer Rugs

Ancient city in Asia Minor, the modern Konya, Turkey. In ancient times it was known as Phrygia, Lycaonia, Cappadocia, and the Roman province of Galatia. The apostle Paul visited the city where he converted part of the Greek and Jewish population and established one of the seven important churches. Iconium reached it's peak as a Christian city in the third century.

It was a weaving center since at least the Seljuk invasion in the eleventh century. From 1063 to 1309 it was the capital of the Seljuk Turks.

Megri Prayer Rug Megri Prayer Rugs
Oushak Prayer Rugs

Oushak is in western Turkey. It has been a center of weaving since at least the fifteenth century.


Panderma Prayer Rugs

Transylvanian Prayer Rugs

Transylvania was part of the Ottoman Empire for 156 years from 1541 to 1697.

One of the nice parts of where I used to work is that I had access to people with expertise in almost anywhere. When I questioned our Transylvanian born "Area Expert" and he told me there are still Turks in Transylvania who weave rugs. Not as nice as these but who is to say they did not weave rugs like this in Ottoman times.

Antique Anatolian prayer rug Transylvanian type
Early 17th century 1.17 x 1.70m
From the Brukenthal Museum, Sibiu


Bergama Prayer Rugs

Oriental Rug Review Front Cover

Bergama Prayer Rug, Vol. 9/1

Day, Susan, ed. Great Carpets of the World

Erdmann, K. Oriental Carpets. 1962, Universe Books, 2nd American edition,

Kaffel, Ralph. Caucasian Prayer Rugs. London, UK. Laurence King in Association with Hali, 1998.

Mackie, Louise et al. Prayer Rugs. Washington DC, Textile Museum, 1974.

For Further Reading:

Thanks and best wishes,

J. Barry O'Connell Jr.

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