An Ottoman voided silk velvet and metal thread çatma panel, Bursa or Istanbul, Turkey, late 16th/early 17th century
the rich crimson voided silk velvet ground with an overall repeating pattern of offset rows of silver coloured crescent medallions, each medallion enclosing a golden serrated sun motif, and issuing pendant small feathered palm motifs. two loom widths, joined on the central axis, mounted on a stretcher. approximately 168 by 127cm. Estimate 160,000—200,000 USD
PROVENANCE: Kelekian Collection
LITERATURE AND REFERENCES: Migeon, M. G., Collection Kelekian, Paris, pl. 89
NOTE: This powerfully graphic example of Ottoman weaving illustrates perfectly the dynamic effects Ottoman artists achieved in their textiles, through a compelling combination of incisive drawing and luxurious materials.
Textiles of raised velvet pile decorated in silk wrapped in metal thread (klaptan) were referred to as kadife-i mûzehhep in 16th century Ottoman archives, (see Gûrsu, Nevber, The Art of Turkish Weaving, Istanbul, 1988, p. 28); the silk velvet is dyed the deep crimson for which Turkey was famous in the 16th century, and which still today retains its intense and saturated colour: the crescent medallions are worked in silver metal thread wrapped around an ivory silk core, whilst the sun motifs are decorated in silver metal thread wrapped round a yellow silk core, thus appearing gold.
With these three elements, the designer has created a textile almost modern in its aesthetic, but in fact the crescent motif appears in textiles dating from at least the 14th century, see Erber, Christian (ed.), A Wealth of Silk and Velvet, Bremen, 1993, pp. 84-85 , for an illustration of a blue-ground textile decorated with rows of crescents in silver metal thread, ascribed to Bursa, from the Deutsches Textilmuseum, Krefeld, 01275.
Bursa, an ancient centre of weaving in Anatolia, was renowned for its weavings in silk and metal thread. After the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, this too became a centre of weaving. The main production of both cities was destined to satisfy the demands of the Ottoman court for luxurious fabrics: not only were these required for the opulent court robes, and for furnishing, as decoration for the walls and divans of the palace quarters, but also as gifts both for home and abroad; Ottoman textiles were justly famous throughout Europe and a visible symbol of the wealth and sophistication of the Ottoman Court, with their rich colours and extensive use of precious materials: silk, gold and silver. So important was the quality of the textiles that in 1502 Beyazid II (1481-1512) issued a decree to regulate the materials, quality of the dyes and the metal thread, the widths and weaving density of the fabric to ensure the highest standards of output were maintained. During the 16th century, the focus of production of silks with gold metal thread gradually moved from Bursa to Constantinople, closer to the centre of power, and by the late 16th century, Bursa was primarily specializing in the production of velvets, see Cizakça, M, A Short HIstory of the Bursa Silk Industry (1500-1900), 1980, p. 148.
The motifs seen in the present textile are an amalgamation of the ancient crescent design and a variant of the equally archaic çintamani pattern of three balls, often seen in conjunction with the paired wavy lines sometimes referred to as 'tiger stripes', see Erber, op.cit., p. 88-89 and Gûrsu, op. cit., p. 49, pl. 6 for examples. By the mid-16th century, the triple dot motif had developed the inner concentric circles creating an interior crescent shape, and is seen as a secondary motif in a number of ogival trellis pattern textiles, either at the junctions of the trellis, or infilling the ogival medallions, see Gûrsu, ibid., p. 80, pl. 75 for a Kemha fabric in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, V&A 221-1910 and p. 87, fig. 67, for a çatma fabric in the Benaki Museum, inv. 3899 for examples. By the late 16th century, designs of offset rows of large scale motifs, with only a subliminal supporting trellis become more usual, and previously minor motifs began to take centre stage. Examples of the serrated flowerhead or sun, both as the primary design element in its own right and as the infill for the çintamani balls can be seen in Gûrsu, op. cit., p.104, pl.101& p.103, pl. 98, respectively. Erber, op.cit., pp.100-101 illustrates a voided velvet fragment from the Collection Galveston, which has the same crescents and suns which we see in the present lot. Unlike the lot offered here, the fragmentary example seen in Erber has part of the inner frame usually seen on these large velvet panels; the present lot is of two joined loom widths, without the framing device, further enhancing the abstract quality of the design. At the end of the 16th century, the most dramatically designed of the Ottoman velvets utilised motifs in their most elemental form to create powerful graphic textiles of arresting beauty, such as the lot offered here.
Sotheby's. Arts of the Islamic World. 19 Mar 09. Doha www.sothebys.com photo courtesy Sotheby's