Although luxurious Ottoman fabrics, especially damasks from Bursa, were in great demand locally and abroad, it is rare to find complete çatma panels such as the present example in such good condition and in which even the narrow geometric inner frame is visible. Decorated with flowers closely associated with the Ottoman Court, it was designed in the so-called 'quatre-fleurs style', in honour of the four most commonly used flowers: the tulip, hyacinth, rose and the carnation. This large panel would most probably have been used either as a wall hanging, curtain or divan cover.
Often the designs on Ottoman textiles can be traced across a variety of decorative media, each sharing iconographic details guided by the nakkaşhane (royal design ateliers). In the present example, the floral arrangement demonstrates a complex imaginative quality. It is dominated by rows of large carnations (karanfil), one of the most beloved floral motifs, which by the end of the sixteenth century had developed into the serrated fan-shaped carnation palmette motif known as the 'fan' pattern, or yelpazeli. On this çatma, these were designed with a central hyacinth-containing pomegranate from which emanates alternating tulip and carnation blossoms with rosettes. Further intricate details include the tulips from which sprout these large carnations with saz leaf petals flanked by artichoke-like motifs. Contemporaneous records show that the silk weaving ateliers of Bursa and Istanbul were carefully monitored by the Ottoman Court, the number of looms and the usage of precious metals was strictly controlled. It would follow that the designs were also closely monitored and that weavers and designers were forced to follow strict guidelines as to form and content and could, therefore, only show their creativity and inventiveness within a very narrow remit.
With a limited number of ornaments and a restricted range of colour the Ottoman textile designers were able to achieve impressive versatility using barely perceptible changes and by constantly modifying composition and using alternative combinations of motifs. Although crimson velvet is the dominant colour, green, blue, ivory and yellow detailing can be used along with endless variations within the placement and usage of gilt and silver metal thread. A variation of this design on another full çatma panel is illustrated in: F. Sphuler, The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Carpets and Textiles, London, 1998, pp.220-261, pl.71. A further variant of this design, adapted to the yastik format, is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (inv. no. 17.120.123).
For an example of a çatma fabric of identical design, with rows of palmette motifs incorporating small motifs, dated first half seventeenth century, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (inv. no. 377-1895), see N. Gürsu, The Art of Turkish Weaving, Designs through the Ages, Istanbul, 1988, pg.91, 149, pl.168. An almost identical textile was sold in these rooms, An eye for opulence - Art of the Ottoman Empire, 24 April 2012, lot 125.
Such textiles have recently reached extraordinary results at auction, exemplified by the magnificent Ottoman textiles from the collection of Argine Benaki Salvago, sold in these rooms, 26 April 2017, lots 139-146.