Fragment, Silk, metal wrapped thread; lampas (kemha)


mid-16th century
Made in Turkey, probably Istanbul
Silk, metal wrapped thread; lampas (kemha)
Textile: H. 24 in (61 cm)
W. 26 1/2 in (67.3 cm)
Mount: H. 28 5/8 in (72.7 cm)
W. 31 6/8 in (80.6 cm)
D. 7/8 in (2.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1952
Accession Number:
Not on view
Woven silk was an integral part of the Ottoman economy and an important trade item that yielded substantial revenue to the Ottoman treasury. It was also a sign of accumulated individual wealth and ranked alongside precious gems and metals as an indication of affluence. The choice of colors in this fragment is restricted to a blue ground with the pattern picked out in white, salmon pink, gold, and silver. The bold and forceful design of palmettes is softened by the graceful overlapping stem systems in the interstices. The palmettes, which form the heart of the ogival framework, are composed of three medallions: the innermost has a spiky outline with a tulip tree placed on a dotted ground, the middle one has a serrated edge anchoring an acanthus-type leaf facing the center, and the largest is decorated with palmette trees and a scalloped edge made of leaves.
Three Textile Fragments with Ogival Patterns (nos. 52.20.22, 44.41.2 and 49.32.79)
Seen in these three colorful pieces of Ottoman silk from the sixteenth century, the ogival lattice became the most emblematic of all Ottoman design layouts for both lampas and velvet fabrics. Similar layouts were used first in Chinese silk cloth and later in fifteenth-century Mamluk silks from Egypt as well as European velvets, but throughout the second half of the sixteenth century the Ottomans produced an astonishing variety of ogival-design textiles utilizing the famous Ottoman stylized flowers as decorative motifs.
The blue-ground fragment (no. 52.20.22) with pale orange and gold ornamentation is both the smallest and the earliest of the three; its design consists of staggered rows of ogival medallions, each with a central tulip amid leaves that appear stencil-like in form, surrounded by a cusped collar decorated with small leaves, surrounded in turn by a more complex leafy margin decorated with honeysuckle blossoms. The blue ground between the medallions is ornamented with more orange and gold tulips and with round pomegranates, each decorated with a rosebud, on a network of thin, sinuous stems. Overall, the effect is restrained and elegant in its simplicity.
By the time Ottoman textile artists created the designs for the other two ogival-layout silk fragments seen here, more adventurous ideas had begun to prevail. The red-ground fabric (no. 44.41.2), with both selvages intact, is unusually long for a surviving piece of Ottoman silk and was probably used for furnishings, since it has not been cut in a shape to make a garment. Tightly drawn lotus blossoms and tulips in the gold medallions contrast with the size and boldness of the interlocking interstitial motifs, which are decorated with tiny jewel-like ornaments with a scalelike texture. Details of the design have been related to Italian damasks.[1]
The purple-ground fragment (no. 49.32.79), with its central leaf-edged medallions bearing sprays of tulips, carnations, and rosebuds on a rich gold ground, uses a more conventional ribbonlike device to delineate the ogival areas; the ribbon is decorated with tiny rosebuds and tulips. Relatively uncommon among Ottoman fabrics is the rich purple ground, and the use of a dark-brown silk warp lends a deeper and richer effect to the design.[2] The pattern of cuts at the top and bottom of this piece suggests it was used in a garment, probably an Ottoman ceremonial kaftan, where its rich colors, large areas of gold, and impressive scale would have made a striking effect.
Walter B. Denny in [Ekhtiar, Soucek, Canby, and Haidar 2011]
1. See Atasoy et al. 2001, pp. 104, 105, and 332, fig. 208, pl. 57.
2. Ibid., p. 332, pl. 58.
Dikran G. Kelekian, New York (by 1908–d. 1951; his estate, New York, 1951–52;sold to MMA)
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. "Special Persian Exhibition," 1926, no. 734.

Museum für Islamische Kunst, Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. "The Arts of Islam. Masterpieces from the M.M.A.," June 15, 1981–August 8, 1981, no. 111.

Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "The Age of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent," January 25, 1987–May 17, 1987, no. 145.

Chicago. Art Institute of Chicago. "The Age of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent," June 14, 1987–September 7, 1987, no. 145.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Age of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent," October 4, 1987–January 17, 1988, no. 145.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Islamic Textiles: A Sampler from Muslim Lands," January 31, 1990–April 20, 1990, no catalogue.

Boston. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Silks for the Sultans: Ottoman textiles and their legacy," April 22, 1994–September 4, 1994.

Pope, Arthur Upham. "Special Persian Exhibition." Bulletin of the Pennsylvania Museum Vol. XXII, no. 107 (November 1926). pp. 245-251.

"Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York." In The Arts of Islam. Berlin, 1981. no. 111, pp. 262-263, ill. p. 263 (b/w).

Atil, Esin. The Age of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent. Washington, DC: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1987. no. 145, pp. 210-211, ill. pl. 145 (color).

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. 214–15, ill. fig. 97 (color).

Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 229A, pp. 322-323, ill. p. 323 (color).