Never-Passing Charm of Antique Oushak Rugs
Since the sixteenth century, antique oriental carpets and rugs from Oushak (also known as Ushak) have been represented among the carefully chosen and highly esteemed objects d'art in the studied interiors and still life paintings of important European personages, as depicted by such artists as Holbein, Lotto, Velasquez, Memling and Vermeer. Until the eighteenth century, the Ottoman carpets with unabated designs such as 'medallion' and 'star' in royal tones of brick red, terracotta, deep blue and gold were decisively in vogue, and even after that period they have continued to grace European interiors. Over time, designs of Oushak rugs have started to evolve yet still managed to retain the distinctive character of the sixteenth century prototypes, continuing to reference large scale ovoid or star-shaped medallions enclosing split-leaf ‘rumi’ and floral vinery displayed on fields of delicate floral tracery.
Classification of Antique Oushak Rugs
Oushak rugs (in Turkish known as Uşak Kilimi) are carpets that use a particular set of designs, called by convention after the town of Uşak – one of the largest cities in Western Anatolia, which from the early days of the ottoman Empire to the dawn of the 20th century was a major center of rug production (and still stands among the most important ones in the world). Anatolia literally translates into “land of the rising sun”, and historically, antique Oushak rugs are classified as Anatolian. Interestingly enough, the level of international popularity reached by the carpets from Uşak became such that the word "Ushak" is considered an English word of Turkic origin. Ushak carpets, particularly those known as ‘Lotto carpets’, are among the later types of Oriental carpets in Renaissance painting, as they were imported by Europeans, where they adorned cathedrals, churches, and the homes of the wealthy and powerful.
Design of Antique Oushak Rugs
Oushak rugs belong to one of the most significant categories of floor coverings. Turkish rugs in general, and Oushak rugs in particular, are woven with the application of the symmetrical knot, also known as the Ghiordes knot, used mainly in Asia Minor, the Caucasus, Iran (formerly Persia), and Europe. The majority of antique Oushak rugs is characterized by relatively loose knots giving them a supple body, and a fairly long, luminous pile which can be attributed to silky, high-quality wool they work with. The most popular designs of oriental rugs i.e. ‘star’ and ‘medallion’ originated in Uşak. In terms of coloration, the dyes tend towards cinnamons, terracotta tints, gold, blues, greens, ivory, saffron and grays. The monumental scale, relaxed structure and playful palette of Turkish antique Oushak rugs ensure that they remain a favorite within the pantheon of decorative antique oriental rugs.