Antique Oushak fragment. C. 1885 (Western Turkey)

The Oushak region has been a major rug producing area since the 16th century. However the Oushak rugs and carpets that are associated with the 19th and 20th century import decorative trade are significantly different from their earlier antecedents. The popularity of these carpets in the West is easily understood after looking at the fragment featured in the box. This fragment reveals colors that are unlike any other rug type. This is not a trivial or superficial issue. Like other arts, rugs primarily use line and color to express their aesthetic. Oushak carpets are about color as it is expressed by light and its interaction with the western Anatolian landscape. These carpets investigate the nature of secondary colors and their relationships with each other. They generally use a citrus palette of lime green, orange, saffron, pink, sky blue, yellows, reds, the colors of the sea, the earth, the sky, and the very atmosphere of the Eastern Mediterranean

Standing alone this fragment softly baths its space with the ether of color. It is quite remarkable how the palette of this fragment floods our vision with an elusive blush of color. One can only imagine how beautiful its complete mother carpet must have been.


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The Antique Rug Fragment as Serious Art

There are passages in all art that can exist independently as a meaningful aesthetic, functioning separately from the complete work they once belonged to. In these frames we see pieces from archaic rugs, fragments from their mother rug, which had over time been destroyed. Occasionally areas of these old surviving pieces can exist on their own, and still express spirituality, decoration, a sense of magic and what it means to live in a timeless culture. The events that have defined all human life are symbolically addressed here: giving birth, raising a family, tending to animals, accepting the inevitability of death and the absolute belief in the existence of an immutable godhead. These fragments express all that we look for in an art object: beauty, honesty and mastery of craft. These humble fragments establish a life of their own, one that takes us directly without distraction to the essence of rug art.