Ottoman embroidered rugs are traditional handmade pieces of art. Ottoman rugs are rich in motifs and patterns. The motifs used in these rugs are usually derived from calligraphy, Islamic geometric patterns, and vegetal elements. They illustrate historical moments, tales, and stories. Some are famous, some are uncommon, and others remain a mystery. 

For centuries, the rugs have been associated with aesthetic performances that reflected the daily life as well as the spiritual and philosophical aspects of the Turkish people. We will explain further to you what each of the motifs used by Ottoman rug weavers used to make those rugs so unique. 

Tulips: Tulips are called “lâle” in the Ottoman language. Back in the day, the Ottoman language was written in Arabic letters, and the letters of “lâle” match those of God’s name in Islam. Thus, a tulip is woven to symbolize God and the holy love felt for him. Mostly on prayer rugs, tulips are an indispensable motif for ottoman rugs. Tulips are also used in many different art forms in Ottoman Empire, such as tile art, paper marbling (ebru), and weaving. It is common to run into a tulip motif in a masque or a palace where emperors lived. 

Clove: A clove symbolizes spring. From an ancient Turkish religion, Shamanism comes the belief in reincarnation. It is also a fairly common belief in Islamic Mysticism. Just like the flowers dying before spring and blooming again after a cold, dreadful winter every year, a clove symbolizes new beginnings and rebirth.

Lotus flower: A lotus flower grows on water. It takes around 2 years for a lotus flower to fully develop and blossom. Just like the water, the lotus represents purity, and with such a long time to grow, it also means maturity. It is woven to protect purity while maturing gracefully.

Pomegranate: Pomegranate symbolizes abundance. It is believed that just like a pomegranate seems to be one thing from the outside, there are a lot of pomegranate arils, and there will be a lot of fortune for the carpet owner. 

Hyacinth: A hyacinth is the symbol of endless love and commitment. 

The Kandil of Mother Mary: The kandil symbolizes fertility. Fertility was important to emperors since the empire was handed down from father to son. So it was crucial for emperors to have at least one son, but the more, the merrier.

Rose: The rose was a symbol of the Prophet of Muslims. It is believed that the Prophet smelled like roses and loved them, so traditional artwork in Ottoman Empire consisted of many roses, including in rugs.

The weeping bride flower: The weeping bride is a rare motif. People believed this flower was to be celebrated as if there were a wedding or else it would not blossom next year. It is a symbol of celebration and appreciation.

The Ottoman rugs are a delight to look at with beautiful and meaningful motifs. All weaver empose their art and beliefs through those rugs, making them one of the most important pieces of artwork in the Ottoman Empire.

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Bihter Ege Baskin

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