For rugs that offer a wide range of color combinations and luscious patterns, look no further than antique turkish rugs. From the earliest tribal weavings to the palatial medallion pieces, vintage Turkish rugs are treasured today for their ruby reds and misted blues, entwined botanical designs and rhythmic geometries. The cradle of a large and powerful empire, Turkey has produced a wealth of distinct rug traditions that appeal to modern designers and collectors.
It was largely the Turks that introduced Oriental carpets to Europe, and their rugs have become some of the most highly prized in history. From the iconic guls and prayer rugs to the sweeping Safavid Persian symbols and patterns, antique turkish rugs are often regarded as the most desirable decorative carpets in the world.
The Ottoman rule of Turkey from the end of the fourteenth century brought new vigor to the rug and textile production of the country, as it did to its larger cultural heritage. The weavers of the time were heirs to the advances of the Seljuks and Timurids, and many of the popular styles that emerged in the earlier periods continued. But new innovations were made as well.
One of the most significant developments was the emergence of animal designs on rug backgrounds, which was a hallmark of Ottoman craftsmanship. This innovation gave the antique rugs an additional sense of drama and added another dimension to their already impressive visual appeal.
Along with the animal designs, a variety of other innovative patterns began to appear on rug backgrounds, including the so-called Ghirlandaio and Crivelli star styles. These new additions enhanced the already remarkable visual appeal of antique turkish rugs and further elevated them to a status far above their earlier counterparts.
The other major development was the increased use of natural dyes, especially a deep rose to burgundy tone that was achieved by using rare cochineal, extracted from the venom glands of Kerkes beetles imported from the West Indies. In general, the colors of antique turkish rugs are richer than those found in most contemporary Persian rugs, which often feature a more muted palette.
Regional rug styles abound, as the Turkish weavers of the area developed a wide variety of distinctive textiles. Milan-based rug dealer Alfredo Levi explains that the main types of Turkish rugs include kilim, characterized by a plain slit tapestry weave with gaps or slits between sections woven with different yarns in different colors; sumak, which uses weft wrapping to create a sturdier flat-woven rug; and cicim, which offers extra brocade techniques for a truly regal appearance.
Antique turkish rugs are some of the most desirable in the world because they combine a wealth of color and pattern with a durable, quality construction. As Jason Nazmiyal, a New York dealer of both modern and antique rugs, points out, the best turkish rugs feature “harmonious colors.” The most valuable pieces are those that evoke the feel of a room in a natural and elegant way.