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Turkish Rugs the O'Connell Guide

Turkish Rugs: Notes on Antique Anatolian Gelveri Rugs 

Turkish Rugs: Notes on Anatolian Gelveri Rugs

Ed Krayer and I were speaking the other evening (2/26/06) about my theory of non-verbal linguistics and the recodification of the Turkish Languages that I have proposed. Ed was not only able to grasp exactly what I was speaking about but he used it to link the Yastik in Saturday at Keshishian's An Old Yastik sort of 25th of February 2006 to Gelveri rugs.

Ed wrote:

"My images are called Nigde, but could just as easily have been called Aksary. The little village of present day Guzelyurt ( Turk. beautiful home, or homeland) was at one time called Gelveri. Thus the literature on old rugs refers to Gelveri, about half way between Nigde and Aksary, which is only about 30 miles away."

Harold Keshishian's Yastik mentioned in Saturday at Keshishian's An Old Yastik sort of 25th of February 2006 has the same main motif as Ed's Gelveri Rug .

Krayer first attributed his rug to the Nigde area rug but on the basis of Harald Bohmers work Ed refined his attribution to a small village near Nigde that was called Gelveri and is now known as Guzelyurt

The Gelvery motif is also visable in the famous Turkmen Rug From the Ulu Mosque in Divrigi that figured so prominiently in Dr. JonThompson's central argument in the 1980 classic "Turkmen".

From Bohmer, Harald. Rugs of the peasant and the Nomads of Anatolia, 1983,

13. Central Anatolia
This carpet, unanimously designated as "Gelveri" a place in the Nidge Area 1 region is unusual for Anatolia in its color presentation, and also shows an unusual motif repeated 8 times one above the other without detectable incorporation in a grid. The motif always occurs in these long formats in the same configuration: eight broad and serrated green leaf-like shapes surround red squares with a blue filling motif and eight radiating arms reminiscent of the inner design of Turkoman guls (cf. cat.nos. 17 and 24)

In the Ulu Camii of Divrigi a quite extraordinary carpet has come to light; this is also based on red and, besides very large gul-forms of Turkoman structures, shows the "Gelveri" motif in a less stylized form, so that its floral origin becomes obvious 2. The motif is likewise foreshadowed in an Usak of the 17th century (so-called "cin Bulutlu Usak" 3. This motif must also be viewed in conjunction with the Ersari Beshir 4. According to Jon Thompson5, in all three cases as well as in our "Gelveri" the motif may be derived from the "eight fold lotus pattern" of Asiatic Buddhist art; the documentation for this interesting theory does not, however, appear sufficiently authenticated 8.

1. The present day Guzelyurt

2. Acar, "Divrigi", Color Plate 55

3. Yetkin, 1974 Color plate 52

4. See Schilemann, 1969 plate 32

5 Thompson, 1980 page 10

6 A critical discussion of Thompson's thesis can be expected shortly from Christine Klose

The text of Ed Krayer's Gelveri Rug listing on eBay

As the interest in old Anatolian nomadic and village rugs continues to rise, we, as collectors, inevitably experience greater exposure to more esoteric carpets that exhibit the intriguing design traditions of the central Anatolian steppes. Anyone who has explored this region has seen the countless, little ancient villages that are protectively tucked away in the timeless, rolling hills north of the Taurus Mountains. In the HANDBOOK OF ANATOLIAN CARPETS, 1986, by Butterweck & Orasch, the authors describe the old, tiny village of Gelveri ("the present-day Guzelyurt" - Turkish for 'beautiful homeland') as the nomadic area and namesake for carpets with this design and palette. On page 171, they show the same medallions in a rug "with rows of sun motifs rooted in the Ersari Beshir tradition." Bruggemann & Bohmer show another "Gelveri" carpet, in RUGS OF THE PEASANTS AND NOMADS OF ANATOLIA, 1983, plate 13, and say "serrated green leaf-like shapes surround red squares with blue filling motif and eight radiating arms reminiscent of the inner design of Turkoman guls." These are heady design roots that run far and deep. But, apparently, the same sun rose on Guzelyurt.

This 130-140 year-old, large specimen shows dual columns of green and blue guls on a red background. Let your eye play with the negative space, and notice the emergence of large red cruciforms in the field. The ivory adornments on the serrated edges, in the narrow latch-hook inner border, and in the details of the very primitive, spaciously drawn, oak leaf border are sensational. It is amazing how this brilliant use of white can pull all the other motifs together. Look at the isolated, saw-tooth section of the white inner border in the upper right third of the field. These are the charming, unpredictable little asymmetries that appear in true tribal rugs that give each one its own individuality and character, even within a specific weaving area.

This is a Gelveri of wonderful detail that carries the characteristic "banded selvages" we find in rugs from this area. The images show these characteristics very well, as they do the corrosion to areas of the green, dark brown and light aubergine. These all vegetal colors are "old colors," as are the remaining indigo blue, two shades of madder red and the extraordinary burnt orange that makes these Anatolian rugs so prized. Nobody else made such beautiful mixtures of madder red with various yellows, perhaps from weld, sage or chamomile, to achieve the rich, salmony, glowing colors that emerged from these Anatolian dye-masters. Their formulas are forever locked in the fibers of these carpets whose palettes make them seem as if lit from within.

The condition of this Gelveri is excellent. It had a couple of small holes when I acquired it, and although it is clearly a collector's piece, I wanted it to be floor worthy. The repairs were minor enough to make the restoration sensible; the work is superb. There are kilims sections at both ends, one being irregular, but I decided to leave it alone. The selvages are original and strong, and the pile is even throughout, save for the corroded areas you can see in the images, and the scattered areas of moderate wear to the field. This is a magnificent old village piece that has few peers. The only other complete Gelveri carpets I have seen in this condition are in the publications I have referenced. I do not see them in my frequent trips to the market in Turkey, and I believe they have long since found their way into private collections, which is where this Nidge region carpet was found.

This carpet has it all: age, minimal repair, great condition, historical design roots, great colors, rarity, and specific attribution. For those collectors of authentic, antique Anatolian village rugs, this one is a carpet to seriously consider. They do not come along very often. 

From Butterweck, G. & Orasch, L. Handbook of Anatolian Carpets. Central Anatolia. 1986,

Handbook of Anatolian Carpets Plate 171

Plates 164 - 171
Gelveri is the present day Guzelyurt and lies in the charming Ihlara area of the Aksary district. The dominant colors of Gelveri rugs are dark red and dark blue, white and yellow are used sparingly; star-like motifs are used for the central field.

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Copyright Barry O'Connell 2004 - 2009.
Last revised: May 05, 2009.