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Ottoman prayer rug or wall hanging with triple mihrab

Greece, Chios Island, late 17th –early 18th century

Brocaded silk and metallic thread. Customs stamp on the back

H. 156 cm. L. 111.5 cm

Provenance: Charles Gillot (1853-1903) collection, Paris

Exhibition: "Etoffes de Perse et de Turquie”, Exposition de Tissus et de Miniatures d’Orient Arts Décoratifs Museum, Paris, February-April 1907

Sadberk Hanım Müzesi, Istanbul


Charles Gillot is a major art collector of the end of the nineteenth century. He inherited the printing press founded by his father Firmin Gillot (1819-1872) that revolutionized book publishing by inventing a process to print text and images simultaneously. Charles improved his father’s invention, enjoyed enormous success, and then devoted himself to his passion for objects, collecting Asian art as well as Eastern and Western medieval art, thus amassing an extraordinary and eclectic collection. The great success of its recent sale at auction is proof of his flawless taste and the quality of the objects (Ancienne Collection Charles Gillot, Christie’s, Paris, 4th-5th March 2008).

The island of Chios located west of Izmir, a few kilometers off the Aegean coast, was one of the main weaving centers that supplied the Ottoman court. The island had its own raw silk industry and most of the material was used by the local weaving industry. The weaving industry at Chios was probably established by the Genoese who settled on the island from the end of the fifteenth century. Numerous prayer rugs from Chios are in the Topkapi Palace as well as in museums and Turkish private collections. See J. Raby and A. Effeny ( Ed.), Ipek: imperial Ottoman silks and velvets, London, 2001, fig.30-31; or the two exhibition catalogues: H. Tezcan & S. Okumura (Ed ), Textile Furnishings from the Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul, 2007, n° 15-18 ; H. Bilgi, Çatma & kemha, Ottoman silk textiles, Sadberk Hanım Müzesi, Istanbul, 2007, n°14.

Most of the wall hangings date from the eighteenth century - some were dated by the customs stamp on the reverse side, but records of the silk workshops of Chios exist since the end of the sixteenth century. A prayer rug kept in the Convent of Carmelite Sisters in Cracow (Raby & Effeny, op.cit, cat n° 71), displaying a similar triple mihrab from which oil lamps are suspended, is dated from before 1696. Hence a dating from the seventeenth century cannot be entirely ruled out.