Bursa, a mountainside city in northwest Anatolia about 60 kilometers from Istanbul, was from the mid-fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries the major production center of velvets in the Ottoman empire. This splendid panel, composed of two loom-width pieces sewn together, typifies Bursa velvet weaving in the late sixteenth century. The motifs, especially the feathery leaves embracing the artichokes, are among the most frequently used by Ottoman weavers (and ceramicists) in this period. Fabrics such as this one were primarily employed in furnishings, such as cushions, curtains, and wall hangings, in the Ottoman empire. The many examples exported to Europe, on the other hand, were most often used in ceremonial costumes.
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Title:Rectangular Textile Fragment
Date:second half 16th century
Geography:Attributed to Turkey, Bursa
Medium:Silk, metal wrapped thread; cut and voided velvet, brocaded
Dimensions:Textile: H. 66 in. (167.6 cm) W. 52 in. (132.1 cm) Mount: H. 70 1/2 in. (179.1cm) W. 56 1/8 in. (142.6 cm) D. 2 in. (5.1 cm) Wt. 89 lbs. (40.4 kg)
Credit Line:Rogers Fund, 1917
Pieced Panel of Brocaded Silk
Bursa, a mountainside city in northwest Anatolia about 60 kilometers away from Istanbul, was from the mid-15th to the 17th century the major source of Ottoman woven silk velvets. This splendid panel, composed of two loom-width pieces sewn together, typifies Bursa velvet weaving in the second half of the 16th century. In the large-scale and dramatic design, three pairs of leaves originally brocaded with brilliant shiny silver thread, now tarnished and corroded, were decorated with small crimson honeysuckles, rosebuds, and carnations. The leaves form embracing frames for small silver pinecone-like forms probably intended to represent artichokes, a favorite motif of 16th-century Ottoman weavers and ceramic artists.
Fabrics such as this were primarily used in the Ottoman Empire for furnishings, such as cushions, curtains, and wall hangings, in contrast to their use for ceremonial costume in European countries to which they were exported in large numbers. By the late 15th and throughout the 16th century, Ottoman velvets were in direct competition with their Italian counterparts.Probably as a consequence, relatively few examples of Ottoman silks have survived in Italy, most of them as decorative panels such as this example, or as untailored loom-width lenghts of cloth, and we rarely if ever see depictions of recognizable Ottoman fabrics of the 16th century in Italian and Venetian paintings. By contrast, Italian velvets, some made in Ottoman designs specifically for the Ottoman market, were prized at the Ottoman court in the mid-16th century, and royal velvet kaftans made of Italian and French cloth greatly outnumber those made of Turkish velvet in the imperial collections surviving today in Istanbul's Topkapi Palace; in addition, Turkish weavers sometimes wove carpets inspired by Venetian velvets. By the later 16th century, the Ottomans had begun a self-concious effort to promote their own styles and luxury products within their empire, a change doubtless prompted by bullionist economic policies.
Walter B. Denny in [Carboni 2007]
1. Nurhan Atasoy, Julia Raby, and Louise Mackie et al., IPEK. The Crescent and the Rose. Imperial Ottoman Silk and Velvets, pp. 171–72, 182–90. London, 2001
Mrs. Charles T. Barney, New York (by 1914); [ P. W. French and Company, New York , until 1917; sold to MMA]
Paris. Institut du Monde Arabe. "Venise et l'Orient," October 2, 2006–February 18, 2007, no. 71.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Venice and the Islamic World, 828–1797," March 27–July 8, 2007, no. 71.
Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Mohammedan Decorative Arts. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1930. p. 223.
Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Muhammadan Art. 2nd rev. and enl. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1944. p. 270, ill. fig. 178 (b/w).
Day, Florence. "Silks of the Near East." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., vol. 9, no. 4 (December 1950). p. 117, ill. (b/w).
Atasoy, Nurhan, Walter B. Denny, Louise W. Mackie, and Hulya Tezcan. IPEK: imperial Ottoman silks and velvets, edited by Julian Raby, and Alison Effeny. London: Azimuth Editions, 2001. pp. 171–72, 182–90, ill.
Carboni, Stefano, ed. Venice and the Islamic World, 828–1797. New York and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007. no. 71, pp. 60, 321, ill. p. 60 (color).
Ekhtiar, Maryam, and Claire Moore, ed. "A Resource for Educators." In Art of the Islamic World. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. pp. 228–29, ill. pl. 46 (color).
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