Lot 81
  • 81

A Karapinar carpet fragment, Central Anatolia

40,000 - 60,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • wool, knotted pile,
  • overall fragment dimensions approximately 304 by 213cm; 10ft., 7ft.
Warp: wool, Z2S, natural ivory
Warp: wool, Z spun, 2 shoots, light ivory
Pile: wool and some cotton, symmetrical knot
Density: V: 11-12/cm; H: 8/cm
Sides: left; remnants of 2 cord selvedge wrapped in blue wool; right side incomplete
Ends: upper with 0-2" blue kilim end finish; lower end incomplete
wool; madder red, dark blue, mid blue, light blue, blue-green, green, yellow, ivory, walnut
cotton: white

with remnants of original upper kilim and selvedge, some cotton whites, some oxidised browns


The Bernheimer Family Collection of Carpets, Christie's London, February 14, 1996, lot 130, noted that in the Bernheimer collection since August 9, 1937
Sotheby’s, New York, Property from the Wher Collection, 16 December 2004, lot 55 


Masterpieces on the Market: Turkish Carpets and Textiles before 1800, Hali Fair, June 2001, London


Beattie, May H., "Some Rugs of the Konya Region", Oriental Art, Volume XXII, No. 1, 1976, p.65, fig. 8
Bernheimer, Otto, Alte Teppiche des 16.-18. Jahrhunderts der Firma Bernheimer, Munich, 1959, pl. 18
Denny, Walter, A., ‘Karapinar kilim’, Hali, Issue 165, Autumn 2010, pp.58-59
Ellis, Charles Grant, Oriental Carpets in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 1988, p. 109, fig. 36a
Erdmann, Kurt, Orientalische Teppiche aus vier Jahrhunderten, Exh. Cat, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, 1950, abb. 14
Erdmann, Kurt, Der orientalische Knupfteppich, Tubingen, 1975, fig. 156 Oakley, Penny, ‘Fact of Fiction, Karapinar rugs from Central Anatolia, Hali, Issue 166, Winter 2010, pp.40-51, Fig. 4

Catalogue Note

The attribution of this significant group of 16th and 17th century carpets to Karapinar, east of Konya, was first suggested by May Beattie in her important article of 1976 (op.cit.). Beattie based her findings on design attributes shared with 18th and 19th century weavings with documented origins in Karapinar. Related carpets include a carpet from the John D. McIlhenny Collection in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, see Ellis (op.cit), no. 36; another carpet from the Wher Collection, Switzerland, see Gilles, Roland, et al., Tapis Present De L'Orient A L'Occident, Institute du Monde Arabe, Paris, 1989, pp. 120-121; a Karapinar rug formerly with Bardini and now in the Textile Museum, Washington, D. C., R34.00.1, illustrated in Hali, Issue 119, p. 82., a carpet in the Vakiflar Museum, Istanbul, see Balpinar, B. and Hirsch, U., Carpets of the Vakiflar Museum Istanbul, Wesel, 1988, pl 33., and the "Cantoni" Karapinar rug in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Inv. No. NM11881, see Hali, Issue 29, pp. 50-1. See Penny Oakley’s article ‘Fact or Fiction’ (op.cit.), for comprehensive discussion of the Karapinar pieces, and interpretation of the Beattie attributions, along with grouping of the pieces, including the offered example, with reasoned consideration that this piece may be one that started life for the Alaaddin mosque and tomb complex in Konya, as most of those with a known provenance did . It is noted that the ‘speculative grouping of the different types or clusters might introduce some order, bearing in mind that a single workshop may have been producing rugs over several centuries.’ Group 1: includes the earliest known pieces, of fine weaving, moderately depressed warps and short pile, and distinctive beautiful blue green abrashed field, and a few details in white cotton, serrated edges (dovetailing), and the present lot is within this classification. Group 1 also includes the Casper Collection carpet, first half 16th century (629 by 221cm) and a 17th century carpet (488 by 225cm) from the Alaaddin Keykubat Shrine, Konya (TIEM, Istanbul, Inv.No. 761). The 16th century Karapinar pile weavings are thought to be directly influenced by early Central Anatolian kilims see Yetkin, Serare, "Divrigi Ulu Caminde Bulunan Osmanli Saray Üslubundaki Kilimler", Divrigi Ulu Camii Ve Darüssifasi, Ankara, 1978, Res. 5, p. 437. The carpets display lyrical ribbon-like drawing and as with kilims there are often no outlines to design elements which create dynamic colour combinations. Vertical lines are accentuated, a characteristic seen in the splendid open guard borders of the present example. The ‘dovetail’ technique and visual effect on the flatweaves, is evident in areas on this pile carpet, and seen for example around the edges of motifs such as the leaves in the spandrels. See the illuminating article by Walter Denny on the significance of the Karapinar kilim, Hali, Issue 165, pp.58-59.

A complete green ground Karapinar carpet of closely related design was sold at Brunk Auctions, Asheville, North Carolina, 31 May 2003, lot 57, see: Hali, Issue 129, p. 13. From studying the “Brunk” carpet and its similarities of format and drawing with the "Wher-Bernheimer" fragment we can conjecture that the current lot was originally the upper third of a multiple medallion carpet (the upper and side inner guard borders are continuous to the field). For discussion on the “Brunk” carpet, which is now in the Zaleski Collection (Inv. MT 138544), see Serenissime Trame, Carpets from the Zaleski Collection and Renaissance Paintings, Exhibition Venice, Galleir Giorgio Franchetti alla Ca' d'Oro, March 23rd - July 23rd 2018, Edited by Claudia Cremonini, Moshe Tabibnia, Giovanni Valagussa Marsilio, 2017, Medallion Karapinar carpet, Central Anatolia, 16th century (629 by 221cm), Cat. 4, pp.78-81, Appendix, with technical analysis, p.147.

When the presently offered fragment was purchased by the Wher Collection from the Bernheimer Collection in 1996 it was displayed as a complete single medallion carpet with the entire lower border rewoven, three smaller rewoven areas in the field and right hand border, and with two patches in the lower left hand spandrel. Even with such extensive and clumsy restoration present at that time, the Karapinar was greatly admired, see: Daniel Shaffer, "Bucking the Odds, Hali, 86 (op. cit), "A strikingly fragmented Karapinar medallion carpet (lot 130) which despite its challenging condition was for many observers the outstanding piece in the collection ...."

It appears that within the Karapinar "kilim-style" group there is a stylistic progression paralleling its production from the 16th to 18th centuries with those carpets appearing most faithful to the Ottoman kilim prototypes such as the "Brunk/Zaleski" and "Wher-Bernheimer" carpets being earliest in date and those carpets such as the Karapinar with floral guard stripes sold in Germany at Rippon Boswell, Wiesbaden, 17 May 2003, lot 71 being of 17th century production. Despite the simplicity and purity of line and colour in the earliest of the group, such carpets are sophisticated renderings of Turkish motifs, medallions are opulent and voluptuously rounded, cloudbands and rosettes are articulate and decorated with çintamani, borders are broad and spacious and floral elements are readily identifiable as the tulips and carnations of the Ottoman court.