Arts of the Islamic World & India including Fine Rugs and Carpets

Arts of the Islamic World & India including Fine Rugs and Carpets

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 453.  A 'BIRD' CARPET, SELENDI, OUSHAK REGION, WEST ANATOLIA, CIRCA 1575.



Auction Closed

October 27, 04:55 PM GMT


500,000 - 800,000 GBP

Lot Details





approximately 465 by 217cm.

Dr. Kurt Zander Collection, Berlin

Dr. Alfred Cassirer Collection, Berlin

Eva Cassirer Collection, Berlin-USA-Mallorca by whom loaned to the Detroit Institute of Arts, inv. no. F49.25, 1949‒2000 and to the Museum of Islamic Art, Berlin,


The present owner

Stadt-Museum, Munich, Ausstellung München 1910. Ausstellung von Meisterwerken Muhammedanischer Kunst; Amtlicher Katalog, exhibition catalogue, Munich, 1910, p.32, no.146

Stadt-Museum, Munich, Ausstellung von Meisterwerken Muhammedanischer Kunst in München 1910, exhibition catalogue, Munich, 1912, vol.I, no.146, pl.73

Frederik Muller & Cie, Amsterdam, Collection Dr. Kurt Zander, auction catalogue, 14 May 1914, lot 355

Riefstahl, Rudolf Meyer, ‘Turkish “Bird” Rugs and Their Designs’, in The Art Bulletin, vol.7, no.3, March 1925, p.91, note 4 (cited)

Erdmann, Kurt,  Oriental Carpets, New York and London, 1960, fig.148

Erdmann, Kurt, Seven Hundred Years of Oriental Carpets, Faber and Faber, London, 1970, p.22, fig.9 (detail)

Ellis, Charles Grant, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Oriental Carpets in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988, p.58, note 3 (cited)

Beselin, Annette, ‘Using Carpets to Tell Stories. Innovative Approaches to Museum Display’, in Hali, Issue 168, Summer 2011, p.31, fig.15

Ausstellung von Meisterwerken Muhammedanischer Kunst, (Exhibition of Masterpieces of Islamic Art), Munich, 1910, Cat. No 146

The Zander-Cassirer ‘Bird’ carpet: a highly important and oft-cited example from this rare group of white ground large-scale carpets displaying the ‘bird’ design within a reciprocal part-medallion border, woven in a polychrome palette of red, coral, pale indigo, saffron, grass green and walnut brown on natural ivory.

The white ground rugs and carpets of Ottoman Turkey, which include those with the ‘Bird’, ‘Çintamani’ and ‘Scorpion’ designs are attributed to the locality of Selendi in the Oushak region, in reference to their mention in a register of 1640 found at Edirne, which refers to “Selendi’nin beyaz üzerine karga nakışlı kaliçesi” (“Selendi carpets with crow motif on white ground” ), see Inalcik, Halil, “The Yürüks: Their Origins, Expansion and Economic Role”, in The Middle East and The Balkans under the Ottoman Empire: Essays on Economy and Society, Indiana University, 1993, pp. 97–136; [originally published in Oriental Carpet and Textile Studies II: Carpets of the Mediterranean Countries, 1400–1600, ed. Robert Pinner and Walter B. Denny, London, 1986, pp. 39–65].

Depictions in European paintings provide a clear indication of when these white-ground weavings were available in Western Europe, attesting to their active production. The earliest rendition of a ‘Bird’ carpet is in a portrait by Hans Mielich dated to 1557, formerly Collection of Mrs Rush H. Kress, New York, (present whereabouts unknown), reproduced in Dimand, M.S and Mailey, Jean, Oriental Rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York, 1973, p.192, in which a ‘Bird’ carpet with part-medallion border is laid over the table in front of the sitter. A further 16th century depiction, again with this border, is seen in Portrait of a Man, attributed to François Clouet or Corneille de Lyon, c.1560-70. (Museo Lazaro Galdiano, Madrid; see Erdmann, Kurt, Seven Hundred Years of Oriental Carpets, Faber and Faber, London, 1970, p. 22, fig. 10;Thompson, Jon & Moshe Tabibnia, Milestones in the History of Carpets, Milan, 2006, p. 242). A further example. also with the part-medallion border, is shown beneath the feet of Henry Hastings (1586-1643), 5th Earl of Huntingdon, in his portrait by Paulus van Somer I (attrib.), of 1601, in Queen’s College, Cambridge. ( Their popularity in Europe is also evidenced by entries in European inventories from the 16th century; in Transylvania, they are documented in the 1568 Hannen account books and in the 1592 allotment logs, see Eichhorn, Albert, “Kronstadt und der orientalische Teppich”, in Forschungen zur Volks und Landeskunde, Bd. 11, No.1, Bucharest, 1968, pp. 79–80. The inventories of the Perényi family in Hungary and those of Ferdinand II, Archduke of Further Austria and Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor also show the possession of such carpets, (Yetkin Şerare, Türk Halı Sanatı, Istanbul, 1974 pp. 93-94), as does the 1601 inventory of Bess of Hardwick’s property which included, in her bedchamber, “three foote turkie Carpetes the grounds of them white, to laye about the bed.” (‘foote’ here meaning: for the floor). For further discussion, please see Boz, Levent, White Ground Bird Carpets of Selendi and Their Reflections in European Art and Lifestyle, 2016 accessed at

The repeating pattern of the main design is based on a system of highly abstract leaf forms radiating around floral rosettes, and may be related to the rosettes and whirling leaves seen in iznik tiles, such as those in the mosque of Rustem Pasha, c.1561, see Suriano, Carlo Maria, 'Patterns of Patronage, Classical carpets in the Bargello Museum, Florence', Hali, Issue 83, October/November 1995, pp. 84-86; these may in turn refer back to the decoration of ribbon whorls surrounding a brocade ball seen in Ming ceramics. Clearly, the pattern suggested a series of pecking birds, even in the 17th century, and the ‘Bird’ sobriquet instantly conjures this group of rugs.

The vast majority of the extant pieces in this group employ a cloudband border, and there are only about fifteen pieces known with the half-medallion border. Notable examples of these in large size are the piece in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, Gift of Joseph V. McMullan, 1963, Accession Number: 63.207 (; Bargello Museum (Suriano, Hali 83, op.cit., p. 84); an example in the Konya Mevlana Museum; the example in the Museum für angewandte Kunst (MAK), Vienna, Inv, Nr. T 10780 (; an example belonging to the Comune di Assisi, see Hali, Issue 88, September 1996, p.67; those in the Paulette Goddard Remarque sale, Sotheby's London, 18 November 1976, lots 9, 12 & 22, see Erdmann, Kurt, The History of the Early Turkish Carpet, London, 1977, pl. 38. The majority of pieces (of all border types) employ a subdued palette of brownish red, brown, yellow and occasionally dark indigo for the decoration, and many of the later weavings are rather coarse and lack the elegant symmetry of the field we see in the present lot. The fine weave, crisp drawing on an impressive scale, rare border and joyful colour all coalesce here to create an outstanding example of the genre.