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Rugs of the prime era of Turkish carpet art, the 16th and 17th Centuries, represented new carpet and rug varieties that can be identified in two main groups with the same essence but different techniques and patterns.
One of these new varieties is Uşak rugs, while the other is Ottoman Palace Rugs.

Rugs falling under the group of Uşak rugs include the most variant examples in Turkish arts.

The characteristic motif of Uşak rugs is the ‘medallion’. The medallion figure was first used in Turkish rugs in the 16th Century.

There are examples indicating that the medallion concept was adapted from the art of book decoration to the carpet art, because the ones that prepared the model cards for rug samples were the muralist working at the Palace’s workshops (Nakkaşhane) and the motifs were also observed in the book binders, miniatures and ornamentations of the period (see. Book Arts). 

The Turkish carpet art managed to resist the recession of the 18th Century thanks to its devotion to the rules of textile arts and continued its development with the use of traditional patterns for centuries. Even today, rugs with old samples were produced as a proof of the efforts to sustain this traditional art form. 

There are two main groups of Uşak rugs distinguished according to the medallion form: Uşak medallion rugs and Star Uşak rugs.

Uşak medallion rugs

Uşak medallion rugs continued their development also in the 18th Century. However, there are unfortunately a few surviving examples with even 10 m-long rugs. The most magnificent examples are displayed at Istanbul Turkish-Islamic Arts Museum ve Foundations Carpet Museum(1).

Uşak rugs indicate medallions in two forms located on alternate lines. The middle axis has round medallions, while the lateral axis is ornamented with medallions with consecutive pointed layers. Large and small flowers on curved branches used on the base between medallion lines are, in fact, hatayi patterns utilized for book arts

In general, there are seven medallions on Uşak medallion rugs. The sequence of the medallions along the rug base symbolizes the concept of infinity which is the basic principle of the Turkish carpet art. This concept separates these rugs from Persian medallion rugs.

Uşak Star Rugs  

Borrowing its name from star-shaped medallions, this group of Uşak rugs have medallions in the form of octagonal stars in the same sequence and alternate sequence of medallions in the form of small diamonds.

In Uşak star rugs, the principle of infinity is even more pronounced. 

Uşak star rugs are scaled small and lengths exceeding four meters are quite rare. The inner part of medallions is enriched with palmetto and rumi pairs, whereas the base is filled with multi-coloured flowers scattered around on angular branches.

Medallions that lent their name to these Uşak rugs are also observed in the engraved ornamentations on the window ceilings of Istanbul Suleymaniye Complex and Edirne Selimiye Mosque

Other Types of Uşak Rugs

In addition to the classic types of Uşak rugs, there are two further groups of rugs produced in the same manner with medallions and skipped lines dating back to the 17th Century. 

Uşak Rugs with Identical and Varying Star Forms

Identical medallions are observed to line up to infinity on shifted axes. Since the medallions on the middle axis are lined up without accentuating the central point of the rug, the principle of infinity is even more pronounced. 

A Type Attributed to Uşak Star Rugs 

This type is related to the medallions and colour schemes of Uşak star rugs. However, the star-shaped medallions are fragmented with the four corners of the octagonal star removed. The remaining corners are unified with one knot motif each via the ends of the star medallions of the same shape. Thus, a frame is created around the medallions in the form of diamonds.

The most beautiful examples of this type are displayed at Londra Victoria and Albert Museum, New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and Faundations Carpet Museum. Moreover, similar examples are also included in the collections of Berlin Staatliche Museum, Geneva Piero Barbieri and Hamburg Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe’.

Diamond Scheme and Various Arrangements

In these rugs, medallions in the form of octagons and stars in layers are lines up on a shifted axis. Yet, stems emerging from small rosettes placed between each medallion create a diamond-shaped frame around these medallions. 

The most successful example of these rugs dating back to the 17th Century was donated by Bode to Berlin Staatliche Museen. A similar but smaller and later rug is currently displayed at Hamburg Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe.

White-Base Uşak Rugs (Bird and Animal Skin Motifs)

Dating back to the 16th and 17th Centuries, this group is known for the off-white base. Due to the floral motifs resembling birds, these rugs are known as ‘rugs with birds’ and their best examples are displayed at İstanbul Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts and Konya Mevlana Museum.

Catching the eye in all rug surfaces, floral motifs are united with rosettes to create square sections. The inner part of each square is filled with a floral composition. The borders are generally presented with the characteristic Uşak borders made of Chinese clouds. In these rugs, the principle of infinity is applied by the discontinuation of the rug surface from the border side at various sizes. 

In rugs with animal skin motifs, three small circles and two wavy lines are continued together and to infinity, which is a symbol of power for Ottoman sultans. A typical example of these rugs is displayed at Museo Bardini. Similar rugs are also included in the collections of Philadelphia and Metropolitan Museum and Londra Victoria and Albert Museum, as well as various private collections. 





    Vedat Durusel, Başlangıçtan Günümüze Uşak Halıcılığı, Antika Dergisi, S.11, 1986
     Candan Akpınar, Halıda Tasarım: 16.17.Yüzyıda Uşak Halıları, Antikdekor, S.96,2006
     B.Atalay, Türk Halıcılığı ve Uşak Halıları, Ankara 1967
     T.Gülensoy, Türk Halı Sanatında Uşak Halıcılığı ve Halıcılık Tabirleri, Sümerbank, Ankara 1975
     F.Bodur, Batı Anadolu Uşak Halıları, Türk Edebiyatı, 1984
     G.Samuk, Tarihte Uşak Halıları, Kaynaklar 1980
     G.Samuk, Uşak Halılarının Dünü ve Bugünü, Türk Dünyası Araştırmaları, 1984
     R.M.Riefstahl, Turkish 'Bird' Rugs and their Desing, The Art Bulletin VII, 1925
     F.Batari, The Origin and Evolution of the 'Bird' Pattern in Ottoman Turkish Carpets, Sanat Dünyamız, Y.2,S.2, 1985
     L.Mackie, A Turkish Carpet with Spots and Stripes, Textile Museum Journal IV, No.3 1976
     K.Erdmann, Weniger Bekannte Uschak-Muster, Kunst des Orients,4, 1963

(1) For example in the museum, collection and resources, see
     Pakize Kılıç-Nilgün Soysal, Vakıflar Halı-Kilim ve Düz Dokuma Yaygılar Müzesinde Bulunan Madalyonlu Uşak Halıları, Antikdekor, 1992
     B.Balpınar-U.Hirsch, Carpets Vakıflar Museum, İstanbul, Wesel 1988
     L.W.Mackie, The Splendor of Turkish Weaving, The Textile Museum, Washington D.C. 1973
     K.Erdmann, Siebenhundert Jahre Orientteppich,
     F.Spuhler, Islamic Carpets and Textiles in the Keir Coll.1978

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