First-period Single and Double-niche ‘Transylvanian’ Rugs

After the 100th anniversary of the great Budapest exhibition of 1914, when the ‘Transylvanian’ rugs were brought to the attention of the wider public, we had a fresh look at this fascinating and controversial group. According the design they can be divided in 4 main subgroups: Single- and Double-niche rugs (which should be discussed together), Plain-niche prayer rugs and Column rugs. These groups employ peculiar motifs for the borders and for the spandrels which suggest they were produced in different centres in Western Anatolia. The slide below shows the main groups of ‘Transylvanian’ rugs and their population world wide: about 720 examples survived today.

The population of ‘Transylvanian’ rugs, divided by design groups. Today Transylvania is still the region with the higher number of such examples world-wide.

These rugs are all prayer format and reflect the technique of Western Anatolia weavings: wool on wool structure, lazy lines, weft color changes. In many cases we can observe stitched side finishings (which leave exposed weft). The absence of corner solution suggest the weavers did not follow a complete design. All the directional examples (except a couple of rugs) are woven upside-down which is a practical solution for making a well designed arcade. This is a relevant fact, which was somehow overlooked in the past. The upside-down technique is not encountered in Small Ushaks.

Together with the Lottos, the ‘Transylvanian’ rugs represent the largest surviving group of 17th century Anatolian carpets. Studying this group is fundamental for understanding much of the 18th and 19th century rugs of Bergama, Demirci, Dazkırı, Gördes, Karapınar, Konya, Kula, Ladik, Milas, Mucur, and even beyond to eastern Anatolia.

Transylvania & Bukovina 7-18 June, 2018

Unique Usahk carpet of rare Turkoman design, Black Church Collection (detail)

Every carpet enthusiast should come at least once to Transylvania… We have been running this tour since 2004 and hundread of people enjoyed the journey to Romania above expectations…

Download the brochure of the tour.

NEW BOOK – St Margaret’s Church in Medias: The Monument and the Carpet Collection

This book is a tribute to the beauty of St Margaret’s Church in Mediaș, to the treasures of medieval art that it shelters, and the historic Anatolian carpets, donated by parishioners in centuries past. The collection includes Holbein, Lotto, Selendi and so called Transylvanian rugs.  Download the brochure.

Photography Eduard Baak

To order the book or for further informations please contact

Transylvania & Bukovina 9-20 June, 2016

Unique Usahk carpet of rare Turkoman design, Black Church coll. (detail)
Unique Usahk carpet of rare Turkoman design, Black Church coll. (detail)

Every carpet enthusiast should come at least once to Transylvania… We have been running this tour since 2004 and hundreads of people enjoyed the journey to Romania above expectations… Here are some comments from participants of the past tours.

This year we added an extra day (without increasing the cost of the tour) in order to enjoy the wonderful Saxon villages in Central Transylvania, with the fortified Churches included in the UNESCO heritage list. The presence of the Ottoman rugs in these churches is a fascinating culturual phenomenon.

We also added some unique features like the presence of a talented photographer Eduard Baak from Brasov, who will produce an album of the tour. See some of his photos below… Download the brochure of the tour.

For further information or to register please contact

Trip to Italy: Lombardia, Palermo, Naples, Rome: 13-25 Sept, 2016

Monreale columns
The Chiostro of Monreale, an absolute gem of the 12th c. Arab-Norman architecture

The tour starts with a program in Lombardia, focused on textiles. We will attend Sartirana Textile Show, organised by the Florentine scholar and dealer Alberto Boralevi, which is one of the most important carpet shows in Europe.

Then we will have a wonderful tour in Palermo with some absolute Arab-norman highlights followed by Naples and Amalfitan coast. At the end all the roads lead to Rome.

The tour is desighend for people who travelled already to Italy and wish to see more…

Download the brochure of the tour.

For further information or to register please contact

A very rare Single-niche ‘Transylvanian’ presented at Sartirana 2015

Alberto and Stefano in front of the mid 17th c. Single-niche ‘Transylvania’

A rediscovered knotted friend…

The Single-niche ‘Transylvanian’ was found by Alberto Boralevi in a private collection in Italy. The rug was recorded as nr. 9 in the 1930 inventory of the Rupea/Reps Parish, made by Julius Bielz. Later on the Parish sold some rugs in order to pay for the church repairs. On an old photo of the rug, from the Parish archives, there is the mention “verkauft Tuduc”.



from the collection of the Brukenthal  National Museum in Sibiu (Gdańsk  2013)

This is the accompanying catalogue of the major exhibition of Gdansk (November 2013 – February 2014). The work  is a tribute to the beauty of the Anatolian rugs in the Brukenthal Museum and of the Churches in Transylvania where they survived:

Foreword by  Bishop Reihart Guob, Bishop of the Evangelic-Lutheran Church in Romania;

Ottoman Rugs and the Evangelic-Lutheran Church of the Transylvanian Saxons by Pastor Kilian Dörr & Frank-Thomas Ziegler (Custodian of the Brukenthal Collections);

The Protestant Churches of Transylvania and the Ottoman Rugs by Stefano Ionesc;

History of the carpet collection of the Brukenthal National Museum by Dr. Alexandru Sonoc;


The book is illustrated with the best photos ever published about this textile treasure:

  • 24 full page photos of Anatolian rugs exhibited in Gdańsk;
  • other 21 photos of rugs and fragments of the Brukenthal collection;
  • 4 great rugs sourced in Transylvania now in Museum collections;
  • 30 photos of Lutheran Churches in Transylvania;
  • 2 paintings showing Anatolian rugs;
  • detailed notes and a new theory of the design origins of the ‘Transylvanian’ group;
  • 196 pages, hardbound.

“….an excellent piece of work and a genuinely beautiful book. I am very appreciative of good work.”  Jon Thompson

To order the book: please contact

Anatolian rugs exhibited at the National Museum of Gdańsk

24 highly important  Anatolian rugs from the Brukenthal Museum, Sibiu will be on display at the National Museum of Gdańsk from 16th November, 2013 to 16th February, 2014.

It is the first time after Budapest 1914 that all the best examples (dating from early 16th to mid-18th century) of the leading museum in Transylvania will be again on display: ‘Holbein’, ‘Lotto’, white-ground Ushaks and a wealth of ‘Transylvanian’ rugs.

The opening ceremony will be Saturday 16th November, 2013 at 6 pm.

Sunday, 17th November at 11 there will be a guided visit of the exhibition followed by a lecture held by Stefano Ionescu.

For those who love classical carpets I think is a “once in the century” event! Most probably the exhibition will increase the desire of rug enthusiasts to visit Transylvania !

Hope this will be a great start in connection with Budapest 2014!

Talk at ORTS, London, 23rd October 2013

Bellini fragment, 16th cent.


Tracing the Ottoman Rugs in Transylvania

Transylvania continues to be the repository of the richest and best-preserved group of small format Turkish rugs outside the Islamic world: almost four hundred examples (including fragments) attributable to the golden period of Ottoman weaving.

We will discuss how and from where the rugs arrived and why they entered the patrimony of the Protestant Churches and led to the ‘Transylvanian miracle’.

Then we will visit some Church collections with an eye to the best examples, ranging from the late 15th to early 17th centuries: Ushaks, Holbeins, Lottos, Selendis and a wealth of Transylvanian rugs.


Swedenborg Hall,   20/21 Bloomsbury Way, London  WC1A  2TH

Entrance round the corner in Barter Street.

Doors open from 6.0pm.  Drinks and snacks are served.   

Carpet Study Tour to Azerbaijan, starting June 17

The program takes advantage of Alberto Boralevi’s previous trips to the region and also from the cooperation with Dr. Roya Tagieva of the Carpet Museum in Baku. As usually on my tours we will see carpets and textiles, meet weavers and very nice people, visit some of the most significant places in the region. At the moment we have 15 participants from Europe and US and we plan to take 25 pax. Time to take a decision is very short. Participants who can spend more time will be assisted to visit other regions. Join a new carpet adventure!

Download the program of the tour to Azerbaijan.

Lecture at the Turkish Cultural Foundation: Istanbul, March 16th

Tracing the Ottoman Rugs in Transylvania

Transylvania continues to be the repository of the richest and best preserved corpus of small-format Turkish rugs outside the Islamic world. Almost 400 examples from late 15th to mid 18th century, including the golden period of the Ottoman production, still survive in the area. On the top, almost 200 examples, which are today in European and American collections can be traced back to Transylvania …


“Ekaterina Ermakova and I would like to thank you for the amazing trip to Romania. We both enjoyed it a lot. Every day we discovered something new, either learned about Transylvanian rugs or enjoyed an organ concert, or visited a wonderful museum. Thank you for putting together this rich educational and entertaining program. A variety of our activities was the most pleasant and your good-natured and strong leadership allowed us to fulfill the program without missing a single event or sight. We both have been enchanted by Romania, its beautiful nature, culture and people. We find the trip very useful for everybody interested in rugs and will recommend it to our friends and colleagues. ”

Thank you again

Natalia Nekrassova
Curator, Collection and Research
Textile Museum of Canada
Toronto Ontario


Dozens of Romanian folk kilims (scoartze) and almost 300 Ottoman rugs from late 15th to 18th century, in the Lutheran Churches and the Museums of the region, including examples in the store-rooms. Please contact Stefano Ionescu.

HALI 157, 2008: Lost in Transylvania by Judith Glass

HALI 157

Lost in Transylvania by Judith Glass

An amusing account of an eventful tour of Romanian Transylvania, led by Alberto Boralevi and Stefano Ionescu, in search of the the rug collectors’ Holy Grail, seen by the keen eye of  J. Glass, one of the participants.
Download the article.