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PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF A SWISS COLLECTOR

A rare early Zareh Penyamin Kum Kapi silk and silk brocade prayer rug, Northwest Anatolia
ZU LOS SPRINGEN
95

PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF A SWISS COLLECTOR

A rare early Zareh Penyamin Kum Kapi silk and silk brocade prayer rug, Northwest Anatolia
ZU LOS SPRINGEN

Rugs & Carpets

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A rare early Zareh Penyamin Kum Kapi silk and silk brocade prayer rug, Northwest Anatolia
with early calligraphic mark, polychrome silk brocading

Knot Density: H: 10/cm; V: 10/cm 


approximately 178 by 126cm; 5ft. 10in., 4ft. 2in.
circa 1910
Zustandsbericht lesen Zustandsbericht lesen

Katalognotizen

The advent of the fine silks of Istanbul, termed Kum Kapi (literal translation ‘Sand Gate’) after the location of the workshop, in the late 19th and early 20th century, is largely indebted  to two great masters, Hagop Kapoudjian (d. 1946) and Zareh Penyamin (1890 - 1949). Not a great deal is known about these men, originally from Kayseri, who inspired later weavers such as Toussounian (see previous lot), aside from the research undertaken by Pamela Bensoussan and the leading collector and gifted amateur researcher George F. Farrow (1916-2001), both of whom were aided by Duncan Miller and Arto Keshishian - whose father, Karnik Keshishian, knew the early masters personally. Of the two, almost contemporaries, the Master, and arguably the more accomplished weaver, who was responsible for this piece is Zareh Penyamin, fig. 1. A cartoonist for the Ottoman Court, Zareh was a perfectionist who oversaw and curated all aspects of any single work with the utmost attention to detail, demanding the highest standards from his weavers. The design of the present lot, known as 'Sultans Head', is based upon the 16th and 17th wool prayer rugs from Top Kapi made for the Ottoman and Safavid Courts; Zareh most likely saw these pieces whilst in the Sultan's employ. 

There are two aspects to the present work which make it particularly exciting.  Firstly, it bears the earlier and rarer calligraphic mark of Zareh’s, here found in the central palmette in the lower half of the rug. Later examples have, often numerous, Kufic ‘signatures’, see Farrow, G., Kum Kapi Masters, Hali, 1989, issue 46, p.11, figs 2 & 3. Farrow spent years studying the Kum Kapi masters; it is through him that the calligraphic mark was brought into wider circulation in both the aforementioned Hali article and also in letters of correspondence to Sotheby’s dated 19 October 1995 and 10 January 1996. In these letters Farrow further reiterates the importance of the mark, which is paired with the Hereke manufactory mark in the silk carpet MW1 16a, at the time in his personal collection.  It suggests Zareh created his own workshop very shortly after his return from Hereke, around the turn of the century, when he was recalled to Istanbul by Sultan Abdul Hamid II (1842 - 1918).  Thereafter, Zareh adopted the more ubiquitous Kufic ‘signature’, indicating the present work is one of his earliest weavings.  A related rug, also bearing the Zareh calligraphic mark, was sold Sotheby's, New York, 3 March 2009, lot 52.

Secondly, and also suggesting an early date, are the inscriptions to the field and border. Zareh's 'Sultans head' prayer rugs often bear text from the Qur'an, to the larger three borders, each repeating 'Ayat al-Kursi'. The smaller corner cartouches are also usually differing names for God, starting clockwise from the top right hand corner; ya sami, rafi’, mani’ and rafiq. The small letters to the border of the mihrab are verses from a qasida, or eulogy, by the 11th century Persian poet Manuchehri and the central cartouche to the mihrab the phrase “This, too, will pass”. However in the present example the Qur'an inscription is missing the beginning of the verse and is replaced by the end, the small corner cartouches have Rafiq repeated in the upper two and Rafi' in the lower, the words ya sami and mani’ are lacking. There are other errors to the Qur'an and poetic text throughout. These mistakes in the text also support an earlier dating as they would suggest that the young Zareh was in the early stages of mastering the cartoon for the 'Sultans Head' design.  This rare, early work gives us a fascinating insight into the development of Zareh’s oeuvre.  For further reading see: Farrow, G., Hagop Kapoudjian The First and Greatest Master of the Kum Kapi School, 1993; Farrow, G., Zareh's Legacy, Hali, 1991, issue 58, p.112 and Bensoussan, P., The Masterweavers of Istanbul, Hali, 1985, issue 26, pp. 34 – 41.

Rugs & Carpets

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