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Ghiordes prayer rug

Ghiordes prayer rug
© BA Antiquities Museum/C. Gerigk

Registration Number(s)
BAAM Serial Bibliotheca Alexandrina Antiquities Museum Number 0999

Inv.Inventory
 (M. of Islamic Art) 3621

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Islamic Antiquities

Ghiordes prayer rug

Category:
Religious / Cult objects, prayer rugs
Date:
Ottoman Period, first half of the 18th cent. CE
Provenance:
Unknown
Material(s):
Organic material, fiber (from plants/animals), wool
Length:
203 cm;
Width:
130 cm
Hall:
Islamic Antiquities


Description

This Ghiordes prayer rug dates back to the second half of the eighteenth century. Its main feature is the "mehrab" or prayer niche in the centre of the mat, which infers stability. The frame of the mat consists of seven yellow and black vertical lines, probably intended to symbolise the seven heavens. The outer border is also in yellow and is decorated with plant motifs.

Prayers Rugs or Carpets

The word "seggada" in Arabic, meaning carpet or rug, derives from the word for 'kneeling'. Carpet or rug is also called "bossat" in Arabic, meaning something laid out on the ground. Thousands of Turkish prayer rugs appeared in Egypt and in many European countries at the end of the nineteenth century. These carpets were considered beautiful and their colours harmonious. They were made of the finest sheep's wool, and their sheen and softness were as good as that of carpets made of pure silk.

Turkish carpets from Asia Minor represent the major prototype or inspiration for modern carpets. This part of the world has seen the growth and development of the carpet industry since the thirteenth century to this day. The 'classical period' for this oriental art spans from the fifteenth to the end of the seventeenth century. The major characteristic of carpets at that time was the clear decoration which covered the entire surface in a repetitive manner.

Carpet Weaving Centres

The main weaving centres for Turkish prayer rugs are concentrated in Asia Minor in Anatolia, such as in the cities of Usak, Ghiordes and Kula. The quality of the wool depends on the climate and rich grazing pastures, as well as the density of the coat. Sheep in the cold climate produce high-density, longer, wavier and smooth wool which is more suitable to use in weaving carpets than wool of sheep living in warmer climates. The frizzier the wool, the longer and smoother it is. Therefore, artisans used the wool that comes from the shoulder area and back of the sheep.

Motifs on Prayer Rugs

The prayer rugs contain a "mehrab" or prayer niche in the centre of the rug. The artist gave the niche an architectural form, which makes it easy to identify the date and provenance of the rugs. Some rugs have two or more prayer niches in a row (side by side), which are then used in communal prayer. Initially, the artists left the centre of the niche plain, perhaps in order not to distract the person using it from praying. In subsequent stages, however, the entire rugs, including the prayer niche, were fully decorated and looked rather like a garden in bloom.

Ghiordes Rugs

The Ghiordes rugs are the most important and prized rugs in museums around the world. The gordian knot derives its name from the Turkish city of Ghiordes. It is known for its strength. A mythical story is told about a Greek priest who foretold the Phrygians that a king would come to them in an oxcart and that he would spread peace in their country. It so happened that a peasant by the name of Gordius or Gordios appeared and the people crowned him king. Another prophecy went around about the fact that the person who was able to untie the knot, which tied the Gordius's oxcart to a post inside a temple, will become the ruler of all of Asia. Luck was on the side of Alexander the Great who, in his impatience, cut the knot with a stroke of his sword.


The information given here is subject to modification/update as a result of ongoing research.

Bibliography
  • A Study of Ghiordes Rugs, by Kawthar Aboul Foutouh, First Edition, Cairo, The Supreme Council of Antiquities Press, 2004 (in Arabic)
  • Turkish Prayer Rugs, by Mohamed Mostafa, Ministry of Education Press, 1953.
  • كوثر أبو الفتوح. دراسات لسجاجيد الجورديز. الطبعة الأولى. القاهرة: مطابع المجلس الأعلى للآثار، 2003.
  • محمد مصطفى. سجاجيد الصلاة التركية. القاهرة: مطبعة وزارة المعارف العمومية، 1953.
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