CENTURY TURKISH FLOOR COVERINGS
Volume VI Number 2
It is this
period which is, in a number of ways, a key missing link in carpet
history. Thus the notations of Jean-Claude Flachat in 1765 are of
interest, for floor furnishings abound and are quite well delineated.
He -- as with scores of his countrymen predecessors -- visits the
St. Sophia mosque and unintentionally records the apparent walkway
demarcation function of its floor carpets: "One can judge the
beauty of the pavement in the space which they take care to leave
between the handsome carpets with which it is covered." (1)
He states that the standard apartment floor covering is a carpet,
but "more commonly a rush mat". In detailing the imperial
apartments he lists their furnishings as "tapestries, carpets,
portieres, curtains, mirrors, [and] clocks", noting walls "tapistried
in gold cloth" and "a handsome Persian carpet". (2)
In a general discussion of Constantinople architecture there is
a section on the use of textiles in interior decoration:
actually carpet apartments with plain velvet, or handsome cloth
embroidered in gold and in silk, or braided, with gold cloth, with
brocard [embroidered silk with gold threads], with thick
stuffs in uniform [unies] or flower-patterned silks, with
delicately cut out velvet on a gold base: door curtains, sofas,
armchairs vary. The floor ordinarily is covered with Persian carpets;
but in certain better decorated kiosks [small pavilions], in winter
they extend a white felt carpet, which resembles a pleasant flower
bed, & in summer an Egyptian mat, which does not any less gladden
appearances by the flowers & leaves that have been painted thereon.
One walks likewise in corridors on carpets of moguette [fabric
embroidered with linen], or on mats." (3)
is further reminder of the catholicity of Near Eastern textile furnishings.
While the detail concerning the pattern on Egyptian mats -- apparently
a staple floor covering in Ottoman Turkey over a long period of
time -- is of definite interest, the key item here may be that so
ordinary a phrase, Persian carpets.
The term appears amid a plethora of textile details; it very well
may be quite fit for literal interpretation. Persian rugs thereby
would be put into mid-eighteenth century Constantinople. It won't
do to carry the thought too far -- how old the carpets? -- but their
presence should be viewed as a possible indication that the collapse
of Persia into wars external and internal from the 1720's to century's
end may not have stopped rug exports. While these events clearly
would have disrupted trade (duly noted by contemporary observers),
it does not necessarily follow that trade would have ended.
If these "Persian rugs" under foot traffic were of 18th
century manufacture, there should perhaps remain an extant group,
that is, a type. Question is, of course, if so, which are they?
Jean-Claude, Observations sur le Commerce et sur les Arts,
Lyon, 1766, p. 388. Research Report translation.
Vol. I p. 428, Vol. II p. 197/198, p. 208.
p. 231/2. Research Report translation.
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