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Historic Prayer Rugs

Rugs are a significant part of Muslim culture. Used for prayer, ornamentation & decoration, they are often collected as family heirlooms, & passed down from generation to generation.

1/ Prayer Rug 1570s-1590s, Safavid Iran Most of these preserved rugs were intended as diplomatic gifts from the Safavid court to the Ottomans. The poetic inscription on the border is in nasta`liq script, in Persian verse & includes the name of Sultan Murad from Museum of Islamic Art Qatar

2/ Prayer Rug 18th century Kula, Manisa province, Anatolia, Turkey, Asia Prayer rugs often feature a mihrab, or arched niche. This carpet is distinctive for its pairs of slender columns, a characteristic of Nasrid architecture from Muslim Spain from Saint Louis Museum

3/ Prayer Rug late 16th century Istanbul, Turkey The Ottoman workshops produced a great variety of carpet designs that usually employed a group of familiar elements, consisting of naturalistic flowers, lotuses, and palmettes, often combined with arabesques from Metropolitan Museum New York

4/ Prayer Rug, 18th century, Turkey. This rug belongs to the group of prayer rugs from Ghiordes, a village between Izmir and Ushak, where most of the Anatolian prayer rugs were manufactured in the 18th–19th centuries from Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities

5/ Prayer Rug, late 16th or early 17th century, Istanbul, Turkey, or Ottoman Cairo, Egypt. With a central niche is in the form of a mihrab, with decorative side-columns & a hanging mosque lamp & was hung on a wall, to serve as a mihrab for communal prayers ‪Khalil Online

6/ Prayer Rug, 19th century, Turkey

During their daily prayers, Muslims traditionally roll out small rugs to cover the ground, creating a ritually clean space for their devotions. Made using traditional techniques: knotted pile; symmetrical knot @GWTextileMuseum

7/ Prayer Rug, Early 18th century, Kashmir

Prayer carpet, Indian or Mughal, in so-called Millefleurs design; a vase with a single stem bearing multiple blossoms between two cypress trees from Harvard Art Museums

8/ Prayer Rug late 18th–early 19th century Mudjar, Anatolia, Turkey Includes a less common depiction of stylized water pitchers in the green areas above the arch which may refer to ritual ablution, which is required of Muslims before performing prayer from Saint Louis Museum

9/ Prayer Rug 19th century Iran For believers in Islam, a rug is more than just a mat for praying; the rug’s design incorporates important Islamic symbols. This rug features the mihrab and depicts the gardens of paradise image courtesy of Christies

10/ Prayer Rug 16th century India This weaving is part of a group that uses the most popular motif of the emperor Shah Jahan’s reign: the single flowering plant, in this case a poppy, set within a niche from The Metropolitan Museum of Art

11/ Prayer Rug late 18th–early 19th century Gördes, Anatolia, Turkey Traditionally prayer rugs feature an arched niche representing the mihrab of the mosque. This architectural element orients worshippers towards the holy city of Mecca during prayer from Saint Louis Museum

12/ Prayer Rug 16th century Turkey This Ottoman rug depicts a floral pattern. While the central arch has no columns to reflect the prayer niche, the arrangement of the blossom pattern is a kind of floral translation of the architecture from Walters Museum

13/ Prayer Rug 19th century Iran A silk kasha’s rug. The elegant niche suggests that this was a prayer rug, to be hung on a wall in the direction of Mecca, however, and not spread on the ground image courtesy of Christies

14/ Prayer Rug 16th century Iran Identified by its central niche design, the Qur’anic inscriptions in its border & names of God in its spandrels, relates to a group of rugs which were a diplomatic gift from Safavid Shah ‘Abbas I to Ottoman sultan Murad III from The Metropolitan Museum of Art

15/ Prayer Rug North Persia, Iran In rugs woven with the tree of life or with flowering vases the architectural nature of the mihrab is sometimes emphasized by thin columns flanking the central motif, as it is in the present lot image courtesy of Sothebys

16/ Prayer Rug 18th century Turkey Woollen-pile prayer rug with floral & geometrical pattern, with fringed ends. Prayer rugs are small carpets, spread out for prayers. It’s size determined by practical necessity, calculated for a kneeling, prostrate figure from the Victoria and Albert Museum

17/ Prayer Rug late 16th century Cairo, Egypt Niches with such elaborate floral decoration appear in Ottoman art soon after 1550, as on tilework in the mosque of Rüstem Pasha (d 1561) in Istanbul from Khalil Online

18/ Prayer Rug Early 18th century Gujarat, India The prayer carpet is an early example of the incorporation of architectural floral arabesque motifs from LACMA

19/ Prayer Rug 18th century Central Anatolia Technically, the Ottoman carpets are similar to those of the Mamluk and Safavid empires, since they feature asymmetrical knots allowing a nuanced design image courtesy of Christies

20/ Prayer Rug 18th century Turkey Prayer mats were produced both in large palace workshops from the patterns of decorative artists and in rural houses. It always contained one detail that was compulsory: an arch was depicted – the mihrab niche from The Brooklyn Museum

21/ Prayer Rug, 16th century, Turkey, Istanbul, or Bursa

Represents a crowning achievement of Ottoman court manufacturing in the 16th century. Besides Istanbul as the place of manufacture, the silk city of Bursa remains an option for its origin ‪from MAK Museum of Applied Arts

22/ Prayer Rug Early to mid-1800s Western Turkey Most prayer rugs were made locally, their materials, weaving techniques, patterns & colors vary from region to region. This rug from the Kula area of Western Turkey, has geometric motifs & a soft palette from Denver Art Museum

23/ Prayer Rug 19th century Turkey Silk prayer rug with prayer arch, covered with thin tendrils bearing polychrome, small palmettes & flowers interlaced with a pattern of arabesques & curving tendrils in flat weave for a sculptured effect from The Victoria & Albert Museum

24/ Prayer Rug mid-16th century Central Persia, Iran This Safavid rug features Qur’anic verses in nasta’liq and thulth script. From surah al-Baqarah, surah al-Isra and surah Ibrahim. Invocations to God, calling Him by 36 of His attributes image courtesy of Sothebys


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