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HOME : Islamic Art : Carpets+Textiles : Hereke Carpet Depicting Paradise with Birds
Hereke Carpet Depicting Paradise with Birds - MH.1
Origin: Turkey
Circa: 19 th Century AD to 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 50.39" (128.0cm) high x 34.252" (87.0cm) wide
Collection: Islamic Art
Style: Turkish Hereke Carpet
Medium: Silk and Gold thread

Additional Information: K

Location: Great Britain
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The Hereke carpets are Turkish handmade carpets produced in the town of Hereke in Kocaeli province. Their origin begins with the establishment of the Hereke Imperial Manufacture in 1841 by the Ottoman sultan, Abdülmecid I (1823-1861) who requested the workshop to produce the textiles for the royal Dolmabahçe Palace on the Bosphorus. Gathering the best artists and carpet weavers in the Empire, the Emperor’s vision was to produce textiles of the highest quality and artisticity, testified by the unique patterns and fine state, which they still retain to this day. They were given as gifts to the royals, noblemen and statesmen who visited the Dolmabahçe and due to the strict restriction on their production, it was almost impossible to trade Hereke carpets until 1890s. With the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1922, the master-weavers who once worked for the Sultans began once more to produce the carpets to carry the tradition of the Imperial carpets. Hereke carpets typically are large in scale, made with wool or camel hair on cotton, silk on cotton as well as silk on silk, which are finely knotted. The precision of their double knots, known as Ghiordes knots, allowed clear, precise delineation of patterns, as well as capturing the subtle harmonious blend of colours. To this day, the Hereke carpets and the tradition and style of the Ottoman Empire that they carry, serve as a fascinating vignette into one of the most ostentatious periods in the Turkish history.

Forming fantastical patterns with their lavish use of sparkling gold thread and beautiful silk, Oriental carpets like Hereke carpets were seen as the furnishings of paradise. In the ?Qur’an?, paradise is depicted as a land of eternal life and happiness where one enjoys the Fruits of the Garden while languorously reclining on a carpet embroidered with splendid patterns. The fact that it was a carpet that decorated this paradise landscape of unending happiness, free from the travails of this world and religious proscriptions, is the very evidence of the extent that carpets were cherished and venerated within the Arab culture. In the 18th and 19th centuries, some oriental carpet workshops moved away from abstract patterns, choosing instead to depict subjects taken from classical prose and poetry. Scenes of hunting, courtly life, or mythical subjects were woven in wool and silk, with more finely- woven carpets resulting in more intricate and accurate images. The master weavers of Persia were particularly adept at depicting intricate, naturalistic scenes, sometimes looking to Western works of art for design inspiration. The pictorial motif such as the image of the ‘Tree of Life’ represents eternal life and is an essential theme in mythology and religion. The paradise on the Oriental carpet is depicted as the appearance of the Tree of Life, the blooming flowers, and the singing of beautiful birds on the rich land. The trees, symbolising the connection between heaven, earth and the underworld, grow from the base of the field and continue to fill the rest of the carpet with leafy branches that are filled with flowers or birds.

(Reference: Jonathan M. Bloom, Sheila S. Blair. Islamic Arts. London; New York: Phaidon Press, 1997; Halil Inalcik, Suraiya Faroqhi, Bruce McGowan, Donald Quataert, Sevket Pamuk. An Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire, 1300- 1914. Cambridge University Press, 1995; Oktay Aslanapa, Ayse Fazlioglu. The Last Loop of the Knot: Ottoman Court Carpets. Istanbul: TBMM Milli Saraylar, 2006.) -MK
- (MH.1)


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