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Volume VI Number 2
March 1988

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:

"They 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)

This paragraph 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?


  1. Flachat, Jean-Claude, Observations sur le Commerce et sur les Arts, Lyon, 1766, p. 388. Research Report translation.
  2. ibid., Vol. I p. 428, Vol. II p. 197/198, p. 208.
  3. ibid., p. 231/2. Research Report translation.
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