All About Oushak Rugs- History, Designs, Origin


Oushak carpets are named after the little village of Oushak in west-central Anatolia, Turkey, which is located just south of Istanbul. Unlike most Turkish rugs, Oushak carpets are heavily influenced by the Persian design.

The nomads who moved from Central Asia introduced carpet manufacturing as a handicraft to Oushak. The city of Oushak, located between the Murat Mountain and Ahir Mountain plateaus, as well as the Manisa and Aydin winter quarters, grew in significance during this period. Carpets created during this time period were only utilized in homes and in family settings.

Since the 15th century, Oushak has been a hub for the manufacturing of Turkish carpets, and these lovely area rugs are now made in Iran as well. Nomads used to weave Oushak rugs for their daily needs.

Due to abundant access to excellent wool and natural dyes, area rugs began to be created in Oushak for commercial reasons after the design revolution in the late 15th century. Because of their great quality, Oushak carpets made in Turkey and Iran continue to be in high demand.


Oushak carpets gained great importance during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent. At that time, weaving masters brought from Azerbaijan started to weave carpets unique to Oushak with new styles. Anatolian muftis were appointed so that the carpets would not lose their properties and that the weaving continued under control. The patterns were designed by miniaturists and decorative artists and were named palace carpets. Spreading from Ottoman palaces to European castles, from mosques to churches, the Oushak carpet is not just a carpet but a legend that is a symbol of respectability. Therefore, this carpet business started to develop even more after Istanbul mosques and palaces ordered carpets from Oushak. It is known that most mosques and tombs were decorated with Oushak carpets. For instance, these carpets were purchased for the Suleymaniye, Selimiye, and Fatih mosques and tombs.


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Design and Color

Oushak carpet designs are primarily based on geometric motifs, most often of a prayer niche pattern. This is partly owing to the fact that, because the majority of Turks are Muslims, they strictly adhere to the taboo of depicting people and animals. Many have detailed vine and leaf designs.

The colors of vintage Oushak rugs are generally dark and rich, with three or four hues dominating. Deep blue, deep red, green, yellow, very little white, and buff are among these colors. In particular, the dyes in some resources are more comparable to the hues of cinnamons, terracotta tints, gold, ivory, saffron, blues, greens, and greys.

The design and color palette of Oushak rugs are unusual. Green, the sacred hue, is utilized on prayer carpets. Natural vegetable dyes are used to generate all of the vibrant hues.


One of the distinguishing characteristics of Oushak carpets is that the weft, warp, and knotted threads are all made of wool. They employ wool that is noted for its smooth, bright feel. There are a few rugs that are made with cotton yarn. Instead, the knot method, commonly known as the Turkish Ghiordes knot, is used to weave it. The number of threads woven per square decimetre ranges from 30x30 to 40x40. This knot also improves the carpet's resilience and quality.

Vintage Oushak rugs also have a thick pile. The humid weather in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands is one of the reasons why these high-piled carpets are so popular. This is where the value of Oushak carpets, which may survive three or four centuries, derives from.


The design of Oushak carpets has undergone two notable changes by the end of the nineteenth century. To begin, floral designs from the Persian culture were included in the design. Second, when European diplomats visited Turkey, they sought larger rooms with elaborate carpets. As a result, increasingly massive carpets began to be woven.

In terms of design and color, we may divide Oushak rugs into four categories;

  • Medallion Oushak carpets 
  • Starry Oushak Carpets 
  • Holbein and Lotto type Oushak Carpets 
  • Bird Oushak Carpets


Medallion Oushak Rugs were made in the sixteenth century. A vast range of opulent medallion types on Oushak carpets demonstrates Turkish masters' authority and creative prowess. These experts should be guarded about translating the art of the book to the carpet. A huge medallion is in the center of the carpet, while quarter medallions are in the corners. The insides of the medallions and the carpet's base are filled with plant decorations and small art creations of human and animal characters. In addition, the medallion on the central axis represents infinity.

The "Corner Medallion" kind of Medallion Oushak Carpet is another option. The tree of life composition is embellished with flowers in this carpet, and the dragon is created as a spike signifying fertility.


The carpets of this type are known as Starry Oushak and are patterned with octagonal star designs. The greatest versions were seen until the 17th century. The palm leaf patterns in the stars represent the tree of life. Rumi, an extremely popular bird, and dragon image are placed in the center of the star. The One Starry Oushak carpet incorporates a combination of the tree of life, bird, and dragon motifs. The star motif is commonly used to show the richness of Turkish carpets. It also has connotations such as birth, peaceful existence, and the rebirth of the universe.


Holbein: It was named after Hanz Holbein, a prominent German painter of the time, who represented it in his works. The middle region is embellished with patterns that represent life and fertility. The border is made up of dragon patterns that are shaped like clouds and are meant to safeguard life and fertility.

Lotto: It earned its name from being featured in the works of Lorenzo Lotto, a prominent Italian painter of the time. The primary design stitched on the carpet's decoration is a blend of bird, dragon, and tree of life themes. When used together, these themes represent the soul's eternity and immortality. The birds are arranged on the tree of life to represent both life and spirit. The dragon is the guardian of the Tree of Life. Flower bouquets are used to embellish the border.


At first sight, the shapes that comprise the primary design look like a bird. As a result, the carpets were given this name, however, the themes are deceiving. It is made up of several hues of the ground that meet between two leaves. The birds on the tree of life once again symbolize vitality and spirit. The dragon protects the Tree of Life. The three themes represent a person's soul's continuation and immortality. As can be seen, Anatolians communicated their emotions by weaving their battles with the bird and, on occasion, the dragon. Furthermore, the bird represents a variety of additional concepts. For example, it may be love or a lover, or it could be the deceased's spirit. It also symbolizes power and authority.

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