Here at Jean-Marc Fray Antiques, we have recently acquired a wonderful selection of Turkish rugs in a variety of sizes, styles, and motifs. The beautiful motifs not only have aesthetic value; many also carry strong symbolic meaning. Interpreting these symbols is an art in and of itself!
Below are two charts illustrating a few of these symbols in their various, stylized forms (Blakeney).
In addition to these motifs, the borders of Turkish rugs often include representations of numbers. “Numbers like 3,5,7,9 etc. are usually regarded to be sacred . . . 3 symbolizes earth, sky, water, holiness, productivity, fertility and so on. 5 means of five fingers of the hand or five prayers in a day. 7 symbolizes seven levels of the sky” (Sultan Carpet).
Other motifs include the zip-zag, the eight-pointed star, the phoenix, the arrow, the goose foot, the dragon, the pomegranate, and the triangle. Colors are important in Turkish carpets as well, often with meanings that run counter to those in the west. For example, white represents mourning and orange represents tenderness. (Sultan Carpet)
Evidence for the use of these motifs in Turkey extends all the way back to the Neolithic period. Patterns found in wall paintings uncovered at the famous site of Çatalhöyük are often similar to the patterns found on the rugs we are familiar with today. “Some of their [Çatalhöyük’s] designs were linear or geometric, resembling designs commonly used by weavers . . . because of the similarity of these designs to those of traditional Turkish kilims (flat-woven rugs), the people of Çatalhöyük may have woven kilims” (Redman, Rise of Civilization).
The rugs we are now showcasing in our gallery are in a variety of Turkish regional styles. One type of rug comes from the city of Konya, known for its geometric patterns.
Another comes from the city of Oushak (or Uşak) — the most popular style during the Ottoman Period.
A third type originates from the city of Kars, which is know for its coarser weaving and, like Konya, its geometric patterns.
The fourth type we are showcasing comes from the city of Sivas, whose patterns are based on classic Persian designs and which tend to have muted, pastel colors.
While many Turkish rugs created in the twentieth century use these traditional patterns, other incorporate more “modern” elements, including European Art Deco motifs.
Stop by the gallery to see our Turkish rug selection and find the perfect piece for your space!