Today there are more than 380 Ottoman ‘classical’ carpets in Transylvania. This the most important corpus of Turkish textile art still surviving in Eastern Europe, a region that for centuries was part of the Ottoman Empire. This is the largest ensemble of prayer-format Turkish rugs to have survived in exceptional condition anywhere in the world.
Despite their immense cultural importance, little research has been carried out on the Transylvanian collections and they remain largely unknown to the wider public. They date from the first half of the 15th century to the second half of the 18th century, a time when Ottoman textile production was at its peak. They have survived mostly in the Lutheran Evangelical churches of the Transylvanian German minority, called Saxon, who lived side by side with the Romanian Orthodox and Hungarian Reformed communities. To explain this complex and unique cultural phenomenon is the purpose of this publication.
A number of these rugs were first published by Emil Schmutzler, a collector and textile manufacturer from Brasov/Kronstadt, who was a connoisseur of Transylvanian rugs. His monumental album, Altorientalische Teppiche in Siebenburgen, was published in Leipzig in 1933, in a limited edition of just 325 copies.
This collectors’ dream album with 55 excellent illustrations has been the most important reference work for several generations of scholars. On the seventieth anniversary of Schmutzle’s book, we published high a new volume, Antique Ottoman Rugs in Transylvania, with quality photographs, updated information and textile analyses of almost 300 rugs from Transylvania.
The complete collection of the Black Church in Brasov is published for the first time, together with the most important rugs from the Evangelical Churches from Medias, Sighisoara, Rupea, Biertan, Sebes, Câlnic, Rânov, Richis, Cisnadie, from the National Brukenthal Museum in Sibiu, the National Museum of History of Transylvania in Cluj and the National Museum of Art in Bucharest.
It is hoped that as well as fostering the preservation and restoration of Transylvania’s textile heritage, this new comprehensive study will encourage collectors and rug enthousiasts to visit the region.