Lot 12
  • 12

A pair of silk embroidered fragments, Ottoman Epirus, probably Ioannina, Greece

10,000 - 15,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • embroidered on woven texitle, silk and linen
  • Both mounted on textile covered wooden stretcher: 57cm high, 50cm wide, 2cm deep; actual fragment approximately 44 by 38cm; 1ft. 5in., 1ft. 3in. (excluding fringe); the other fragment 46 by 43cm; 1ft. 6in., 1ft. 5in.
probably from a bed valance, with pairs of parakeets and arabesque decorated beakers holding a bouquet of tulips and carnations (2)

Catalogue Note

The design of these embroideries is directly related to a motif found in a rare group of late 16th century Iznik tiles depicting two green parakeets flanking a fountain with its upper section planted with hyacinths and carnations, see for example an Iznik tile, circa 1575-1599, in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (Acc. No. C.139-1933), and another in the Benaki museum, Athens (Inv. 75).The emerald green was used for the first time in 1566/7 on the tiles of the mausoleum of Suleyman the Magnificent and was widely used in Iznik pottery in the 1570's onwards. In the embroideries illustrated here, the spray of carnations and tulips is in an arabesque decorated beaker or jug of a squat bulbous form associated with Timurid and Ottoman metalwork, and also seen in early Persian ceramics, as well as 16th century Iznik. The confronting lion motif was most likely appropriated from European armorials or velvets.    These motifs were integrated into the design repertoire of Ionninian and Ionian Island embroideries, where these and related motifs are used higgledy-piggledy across the field. The Benaki Museum, Athens, has two  fragments of Ionian Island embroidery from the 18th century: a bed valance, of which a grouping of similar motifs to those in the present panel is repeated three times within the main field, and the double handled vase is flanked by other motifs such as large cockerels, ships and people (72 by 353cm, Inv. 6308), and a smaller fragment with a single handed ewer with spout, showing a peacock to the right (37 by 48 cm, Inv. 1231).  

For a very similar textile fragment to that in the Benaki Museum cited above, with very similar motifs of carnations in a ewer flanked by parakeets, smaller birds, deer, and hints of the peacock tails at the edges, see an 18th century fragment, Ionian Islands or Epirus, silk on cotton, in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (170 by 38cm: Acc. No. 48.55.2 Rogers Fund, 1948).

For another comparable Ionian bed valance fragment, considered 17th century by Wace, with a stylised double headed eagle motif instead of the peacocks, similar dragon type motif, variation to the shapes and decoration to the vessels containing flowers depicted, perhaps to indicate some being metal and others being ceramic, and the similar combination of tulips and carnations in a container, see Wace, A. J. B., Mediterranean & Near Eastern Embroideries, Vol. II, 1935, (No.14) Plates XX, XXI (37 by 24 in.).