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.