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Oriental Rugs & Carpets in Europe


Oriental carpets began to appear in Europe after the Crusades in the 11th century. Until the mid-18th century they were mostly used on walls and tables. Except in royal or ecclesiastical settings they were considered too precious to cover the floor. Starting in the 13th century Oriental carpets begin to appear in paintings (notably from Italy, Flanders, England, France, and the Netherlands). Carpets of Indo-Persian design were introduced to Europe via the Dutch, British, and French East India Companies of the 17th and 18th century.

Oriental Carpets in Renaissance Paintings

Carpets of Middle-Eastern origin, either from the Ottoman Empire, the Levant or the Mamluk state of Egypt or Northern Africa, were used as important decorative features in paintings from the 14th century onwards. More depictions of Oriental carpets in Renaissance paintings survive than the actual carpets produced before the 17th century, so the study of these paintings is important for constructing the history of carpetmaking itself. Such carpets were often integrated into Christian imagery as symbols of luxury and status of Middle-Eastern origin, and together with Pseudo-Kufic script offer an interesting example of the integration of Eastern elements into Renaissance painting and of Islamic influences on Christian art.



Gentile Bellinis Madonna and Child enthroned
Carlo Crivelli's Carpet Anatolia
Phoenix and Dragon Carpet Anatolia
Holbein Carpet
18th Century Konya Carpet
Vision of St-Augustine
Earl of Dorset standing on a Turkish carpet
King Henry VIII standing on a Turkish carpet
Somerset House Carpet


Sources and inspiration: Bérinstain, Valérie, et al. L'art du tapis dans le monde (The art of carpets in the world),. Paris: Mengès, 1996. Print.; Jerrehian Jr., Aram K.A. Oriental Rug Primer. Philadelphia: Running Press, 1980. Print.; Herbert, Janice Summers. Oriental Rugs, New York: Macmillan, 1982. Print.; Hackmack, Adolf. Chinese Carpets and Rugs, Rutland and Tokyo: Tuttle, 1980. Print. ; De Moubray, Amicia, and David Black. Carpets for the home, London: Laurence King Publishing, 1999. Print.; Jacobsen, Charles. Oriental Rugs A Complete Guide, Rutland and Tokyo: Tuttle, 1962. Print.; Bashir, S. (n.d.). Personal interview.; Web site sources and dates of consultation vary (to be confirmed). Without prejudice to official usage.





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