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Volume VI Number 1
January 1988

Perhaps the penultimate French travelogue is that of Tournefort, a recording his of experiences, 1700--1702. (1) A visitor to Constantinople mosques, he observed: "However handsome be the pavement of a Church, it is always covered with a rug or a mat." (II, p. 351) As well as placing mats in mosques, he also noted their presence in caravanserais and baths. (II, p. 352, p. 360) In addition, the Mecca connection of textiles is neatly pointed up:

"The niche....and the altar (dedicau) of the most famous Mosques have attached there a piece of some fabric which has served as a door curtain at the Mecca Mosque." (II, p. 350)

(concerning the prophet's tomb at Medina) "...over which they spread out each year a piled fabric (poile) very rich and very magnificent which the Sultan sends out of devotion..." (II, p. 358)

(also sent by Sultan) "...several rich rugs, and many pieces of black cloth for hangings in the Mosques of Mecca." (II, p. 359)
Tournefort undertook some cross-country travel, which got him into Kurdish districts in Erivan and produced a dwelling description:
"These are big tents of a type of dark brown fabric, very thick and very heavy which serves as covering for these types of portable house, of which the enclosure, which forms the body of the dwelling, is a rectangle fastened by a cane trellis the height of a man [and is] carpeted inside with fine mats." (III, p. 123)

There is also a portrayal of an Armenian church at Eichmazden:

"The pavement of the nave and that of the presbytere are covered with handsome rugs. The presbytere, or the altar tower, is usually carpeted with Damask, velvet or brocade." (III, p. 189) Tournefort does not fail to devote a letter to the subject of Armenians, mentioning their uprooting, Julfa location, and role as traders, including the holding of the official monopoly of trade with the Moscovy Grand Duke. (III, p. 252 - 257)

Finally, he characterized Smyrna as the commercial center for the Levant, identified its principal exports (Persian silk, goat yarn from Angora), and specified all trade items with France, among them "Rugs large and ordinary."


  1. Tournefort, J. P., Relation d'un Voyage du Levant, Lyons, first edition revised and corrected, posthumously, 1727. Text references appear by volume and page. Research Report translations.
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