Lot 30
  • 30

A 'Karapinar' rug fragment, Central Anatolia, Konya province

40,000 - 60,000 GBP
309,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Wool, pile


with Alan Marcuson and Garry Muse by 1988.


San Francisco, M. H. de Young Museum, The Christopher Alexander Collection, November 1990 - February 1991.

San Francisco, Hall of Flowers, Reflections of Infinity, Early Islamic Rugs from San Francisco Area Collections, 20-28 April 1982.


Oakley. P., 'fact or fiction 'Karapinar' rugs from Central Anatolia', Hali, Winter, 2010, issue 166, pp. 48 & 50.

Eskenazi, J.,'The Alexander Collection: Part I Weaving as Liturgy', Hali, April/May 1994, issue 74, p. 80, fig. 1.

Alexander, C., A Foreshadowing of 21st Century Art The Color and Geometry of Very Early Turkish Carpets, New York, 1993, pp. 168 - 170, ill pp. 20 & 72 (details), 169 & 349 - shown in the San Francisco M. H. de Young Museum, 1990/91.

Alexander. C., 'Early Turkish Rugs A New Way of Looking', Hali, April, 1991, issue 56, p. 118.

Marcuson. A., 'Connoisseur's Choice' Hali, March/April, 1988, issue 38, pp. 14 & 15.

Dodds, D, R., ‘Reflections of Infinity Early Islamic Rugs from San Francisco Area Collections’, Hali, No. 4, Vol. 4, Winter 1982, Exhibitions, p. 371, fig. 3.

Catalogue Note

Fabled and archaic, this exemplary work is believed to have originated from the Karapinar area, between Konya and Ereğli in modern day Turkey. This group of Anatolian weavings has become legendary to collectors: few examples exist, and this is one of the more beautiful and inspiring. To Alexander it became ‘the old rug’, and Alan Marcuson, former editor of Hali called it ‘[his] favourite carpet’, Alexander, A Foreshadowing, op.cit, p 168. However, owing to the highly unusual motifs within the field it has affectionately been termed by others as ‘The Pink Panther’, Oakley, Hali, op.cit, p. 48. The many viewpoints and discussions of this group arguably began in 1976 with Dr May Beattie’s seminal article, ‘Some Rugs of the Konya Region’, Oriental Art, London, Spring, 1976, vol. 22, pp. 60 – 75.

In her article Beattie discusses the genre of Central Anatolian weaving and cites examples from around the Konya region, including those from Karapinar, following her visit to the Ala al Din Mosque in Konya, Beattie, op cit, pp. 61 & 63, figs. 1 & 5. Interestingly Beattie observes that these Karapinar rugs which exhibit a medallion, corner and border design ‘are knotted in wool which is notable for being a brilliant, hard white.’ Beattie, ibid, pp. 60 & 61. This is a particular characteristic, she states, of the local wool of Karapinar and it is a noticeable trait within the ‘Pink Panther’, as the white spots within the border of the arched medallion, the inner and outer guards and elements of the extant border show. Beattie’s article is discussed by Penny Oakley in her Hali article ‘fact or fiction ‘Karapinar’ rugs from Central Anatolia’, Oakley, Hali, op.cit, pp. 40 – 51. Oakley’s thesis discusses the mythology of Karapinar rugs and addresses some of the misnomers associated with the group. She owns that due to the lack of existing examples and provenance it is hard to say, with certainty, what is of Karapinar and what is not. However she does state that the example cited by Beattie from the Ala al Din Mosque is one from Karapinar; a colour reproduction of it is published in her article, ibid, p. 41 & 41, fig 2. The colour image gives weight to the attribution to Karapinar for the ‘Pink Panther’, as they share a very similar pigmentation.     

In this article Oakley cites a number of weaves, catalogued as Central Anatolian, which bear likenesses to the offered lot. The most compelling, at first glance, is fig. 6, ibid, Türk ve İslam Eserleri Müzesi, the Sultan 'Alaal-Din Kayqubad shrine, Konya. This example also bears the blue lobed medallion field with spotted white border, aubergine central medallion and arabesque spandrels and has a similar border design. However it is the unusual motifs within the field from whence the ‘Panther’ derives its nickname, and here too Oakley has cited examples which share both this element, if not colouring, and design within the spandrel: one, again from the Sultan 'Alaal-Din Kayqubad shrine, and another series of three fragments, likely from the same rug, ibid, figs. 5, 29-31, Mevlâna Museum. Of these examples the two which bear the closest semblance are figs 2 and 5, ibid, although it is interesting to note the similarities found within the other cited examples.

One other ‘Karapinar’ bears arguably the most striking likeness to the Alexander ‘Panther’ than any other already mentioned here: the ‘Small Medallion Carpet with Çintemani Border’ in the Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri, Denny. W., The Carpet and the Connoisseur The James F. Ballard Collection of Oriental Rugs, Verona, 2016, pp. 150 & 151, cat. no. 34. Naturally there are differences in design and primary colours, however the Ballard Çintemani and Alexander ‘Panther’ surely would have been produced in the same weaving centre, if not workshop. Oakley in her article, Hali, op.cit, organises the various types of Central Anatolian rugs into eight possible groupings, using a combination of known provenance, design motifs, coloured dyes and the political and cultural history of the region to determine the groups. She places the Ballard example into group three, as she does with the aforementioned example (Hali, op.cit., pp. 42 – 50, fig. 6), suggesting that from the Ala al Din Mosque was also produced in the same weaving centre as the Ballard and Alexander works.

Perhaps, To a certain degree these ‘Karapinar’ works will always have some mystery to them but what is truly undeniable is their mesmerising, archaic, beauty and richness of colour which has so enraptured collectors. The present example is one of the finest in this respect; Alexander himself states ‘my own love for the carpet, and my belief in its importance and its force, has mainly to do with its profound and simple color interactions.’ Alexander, Foreshadowing, op.cit., p. 170. Alan Marcuson had previously said of it ‘we knew we were in the presence of a rare masterpiece, we were overwhelmed by its power … This rug fundamentally changed my understanding of Oriental carpets.’ Marcuson, ‘Connoisseur’s Choice’, op.cit., p. 14.