Fragment of a Carpet with Quatrefoil Design, Wool (warp, weft, and pile); symmetrically knotted pile

Fragment of a Carpet with Quatrefoil Design

Object Name:
16th–17th century
Attributed to Western Turkey, Ushak
Wool (warp, weft, and pile); symmetrically knotted pile
Rug: H. 114 1/2 in. (290.8 cm)
W. 60 in. (152.4 cm)
D. 1/2 in. (1.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Joseph V. McMullan, 1972
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 459
The star-like medallions that give this type of carpet its name were a design favored by commercial weavers of the Ushak district of western Anatolia. It is a variation of the famous Ushak medallion carpets. Most Ushak carpets are easily recognizable by their characteristic color palette, often limited to a few tones such as rich red, dark blue, and yellow, highlighted with touches of bright white and vibrant green. The inspiration for the infinite repeating pattern of the quatrefoil design are to be found in other media, such as the architectural tilework of the same region, which often features complex interlacing designs. Similar compositions with symmetrically designed floral patterns, based on split-palmettes, stylized lotus and other floral motifs that often fill cartouche-like shapes, are also known from manuscripts and appear on luxurious book bindings and illuminated pages. Such designs not only developed across media in the Ottoman world, but also extended beyond it to Europe. Such carpets were produced for commercial purposes in higher quantities. Specifically during the sixteenth century Ushak was one of the leading production centers for carpets designated for the European market. The large size and refined woven pattern of this example, suggest that it was made in a large town workshop in the Ushak district.

This is a fragment of a rare Ushak type, dating from the 16th century. Other rugs of this type are in the City Art Museum of Saint Louis, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the collection of Ricardo Spiritus Sanctus in Lisbon.

The typical floral trellis forms the background against which the main pattern is set. Of the main pattern only one unit is preserved consisting of diamond-shaped medallions and complex stellate forms composed of four spade-shaped compartments set against the diagonal sides of a central octagon. It is quite curious that this octagon, even though filled with an arabesque pattern and set off from the field, still has the field colour and not the deep blue that is used for other figures. This This alternate of diamonds and stars is, however, not the complete pattern as it may at first appear, but there is a second repeat motif consisting of larger diamond-shaped medallions and squares, connected with the tips of the stellate forms by thin stems with a knot motif in the centre. The complete pattern would then appear to consist of alternate and staggered rows of stellate and large diamond medallions and small diamond and square cartouches.

[Arts Council 1972]
Joseph V. McMullan, New York (by 1965–72; gifted to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Islamic Carpets: The Joseph V. McMullan Collection," June 11, 1970–August 2, 1970, no. 37.

"Catalogue of an exhibition held at the] Hayward Gallery, London, 19 October–10 December 1972." In Islamic Carpets from the Joseph V. McMullan Collection. London: Arts Council of Great Britain, 1972. no. 68, p. 47, ill. pl. XXIV.

McMullan, Joseph V., and Ernst J. Grube. Islamic Carpets. New York: Near Eastern Art Research Center, 1965. no. 68, pp. 232-233, ill. pl. 68 (color).

"The Joseph V. McMullan Collection." In Islamic Carpets. New York, 1970. no. 37.