oturn home > Rugs: index page > Anatolian large-pattern Holbein long rug

rug in my possession Anatolian large-pattern Holbein long rug (Yuruk or Kurdish)

Click on image to view in larger size.

See image in extra large size(785 KB).

East-Anatolian long rug—click to see enlarged view

Attribution and design

An East-Anatolian rug, some would call it Yuruk, some Kurdish, I am not able to resolve this. The design is a variant of the large-pattern Holbein type. Large-pattern Holbein carpets are named after a carpet depicted in Hans Holbein the Younger's double portrait of the French Ambassadors in the national Gallery, London (1533). Similar designs appeared in Renaissance paintings from Italy, Spain, France, Flanders and England from about 1460 to 1550, indicating that rugs of this type were then imported from Anatolia in significant quantities (compare Brüggemann & Böhmer).

In this rug, a coarser variant of Holbein octagon with its interlocking strapwork still in evidence, is rendered inside a coarse eight-pointed star (Eagleton calls this shape 'Sandikli gul' in plate 100 of his Introduction to Kurdish rugs). The trinagular corner pieces filling the corners of a rectangle containing the octagon in the 16th c. large-pattern Holbein motif have moved outside the chunky star, a star that now is itself adorned by a medley of shapes. The most prominent of these is a curious rendering of what looks a bit like the endless knot motif (more precisely, it consists of eight matched angular curls of alternate colour filling a cross-shape); furthermore, you find nested diamonds with a latch-hooked outer frame; smaller diamonds; blossoms; and brush shapes looking like fishbone.

The large-pattern Holbein motif itself was probably derived from the earlier (13th c.) intricate north-Persian Para-Mamluk carpets featuring octagon medallions with intricate interlocking girih strapwork (compare Walter B. Denny: The classical tradition of Anatolian Carpets).

Bennett, in his catalogue text, simply call this piece a good Yuruk (Kurdish) long rug, probably Konya region. The narrow width (3ft.2in./96 cm) and the fact that the rug is slighlty curved indicates a nomadic tribal origin. Olede specimens of these rugs have becoeme quite rare in the market. While the condition is not perfect, its 'all there', a beautiful and lively design from a nomadic tradition that has all but disappeared. I would date this rug to the second half of the 19th century—it's hard to pin down the age more precisely.


The rug measures 8ft. x 3ft.5in. (244 x 104 cm).As can be expected, the weave is non-depressed and uses symmetrical knots. Warps look partly like goat hair, parly sturdy, extremely long stape and wiry sheep's wool, barberpole twined, in shades of off-white tan and dark brown. Wefts are dark blue and dark brown wool. The weave is coarse, the horizontal knot count is h.23/10, the vertical knot count is v.28/10, which means roughly 644 knots/dm2 (or, converted to to inches, h.6,v.7 = ca. 42 kpsi) This results in a V/H ratio of 1.21. Flat two-cord selvage wrapped in bands of wool in different colours. Both ends show oblique interlacing (compare Marla Mallett's end finishes project).


The rug is complete and structurally sound. No holes, no repairs that I can spot. Due to the nomadic production process probably on a horizontal portable loom that may have been set up, dismantled, and set up again at other pastures during the weaving, the rug is slightly curved, as can be seen in the full image, but it lies flat on the floor with no bubbles or creases. The pile is short, with some foundation showing through in central aeas (see close-up images) and minor abraision in some areas near the border (older horizontal tread folds—see detail images). All dyes are natural, including cochenille and madder reds. There is no bleeding or tip fading, no stains and no odour, no sign of moth damage. I have thoroughly and carefully hand-washed this rug in a neutral detergent, it is now nice and clean, ready for the floor in a low-traffic area or for wall display.


A palette dominated by reds (cochenille and a madder-based brick orange-red) and blue-green shades an abashed medium indigo blue and shades of teal green. In addition there is off-white, dark brown for outlining,and an ochre shade most prominenly used in the central octagon of the bottom medallion.

More images

East Anatolian long rug - top

East Anatolian long rug - top medallion

East Anatolian long rug - central medallion

East Anatolian long rug - bottom medalion

East Anatolian long rug - field 1

East Anatolian long rug - field detail 1

East Anatolian long rug - border

East Anatolian long rug - detail 2

East Anatolian long rug -  endless knot

East Anatolian long rug - pile detail

East Anatolian long rug - pile detail in border

East Anatolian long rug - pile detail top

East Anatolian long rug - back side

East Anatolian long rug - back 2

Last update: 14 September 2008 | Impressum—Imprint