DRACULA, DRAGONS & OTTOMAN PRAYER RUGS: How oriental carpets came to decorate the walls of Lutheran Churches in Transylvania and why they’re still there today with Susan Scollay

Tuesday 16 Aug 2011, 10:15 AM – 11:45 AM

Transylvania, the northern most province of modern-day Romania, is home to the largest corpus of Turkish rugs and carpets outside the Islamic world. About 400 of these are preserved, and still used, on the walls of the Lutheran churches in the Carpathian Mountains – in the region made famous in the West by Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, Dracula.

The church rugs include many examples of the acknowledged ‘golden period’ of Ottoman Turkish art spanning the 300 years from the middle of the fifteenth to the middle of the 18th centuries. Among them, classical types such as the so-called Holbeins, Lottos and Oushaks hang side by side with prayer rugs and other textiles for the historic looms of Anatolia.

SUSAN SCOLLAY is an internationally recognised specialist in textiles and carpets, and Islamic art and culture. She is contributing editor of HALI, the London-based journal of carpet, textile and Islamic art, and is currently completing a PhD at La Trobe University, Melbourne. Scollay was guest curator of Fluid Borders: Ways of Seeing Oriental Rugs, and convenor of the accompanying Carpet Study Day, both held at The Johnston Collection in 2010.

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