LINK TO THE THEME OF THIS CHAPTER
This velvet fragment contains motifs typical of Ottoman textiles, which were transmitted to Venice via trade and inspired a new direction in Italian weaving. Motifs traveled back and forth between Ottoman and Venetian workshops and many of the textiles of both centers feature strikingly similar characteristics (fig. 58).
While the exact function of this textile is unknown, Ottoman textiles woven from fine silk were often used to make expensive garments or furnishings such as cushions, wall hangings, upholstery, and curtains. Textiles like this were also frequently sewn into ecclesiastical or other ceremonial garments in the West.
This panel consists of two almost identical, loom-width pieces of silk velvet. In the first row of each piece the featured motif is intact; in the second row, it is split in half along the outer edges. When the two panels are placed side by side, the motif in the second row is completed.
The motif, a symmetrical design of repeating artichoke-shaped forms surrounded by a palmette with saz leaves, is enhanced by the floral forms that appear within the leaves, as well as by the meandering scrolls of carnations, tulips, and hyacinths. The silver metallic thread, now slightly tarnished, would once have shimmered against the rich red background.
Italian weavers, admiring Ottoman designs, readily incorporated and adapted them into their own textiles. Likewise, Turkish weavers often wove carpets inspired by designs in Venetian velvets. Preferring the expensive and exotic Venetian velvets to those locally produced in Bursa, the Ottoman court ordered a large number of kaftans made of Venetian silk. Despite vibrant textile industries of their own, the Ottomans and Venetians remained important clients of one another's textile production. Works like this reflect the cultural and economic ties between the two powers.
KEY WORDS AND IDEAS
Trade and diplomacy, Venice and Turkey, Ottoman empire, cultural exchange, textile, silk