Christian Motivs on Turkish Hereke Carpets?


It seems to be surprisingly to find Christian Motifs on some of the carpet artworks handknotted in a Muslim country like Turkey, where 98 % of the population are Muslims.

Hereke silken Carpet - "The Last Supper"

Hereke silken Carpet - "The Last Supper"

That could be an accomodation to the West tourists, to fulfill their expectations, but is that the only possible explanation, mainly because you will not find any Christian motif on a Persian carpet, for example?

Going back in history for about 2,000 years, we find out another possible reason for the Christian motifs in Turkish silk carpets. They could be also an obeisance towards the history and development of the Christianity in Anatolia, because we get to know that Anatolia is a craddle of Christianity and the Bible.

After Jesus’ crucifixion his adherer emigrated to Asia Minor and settled down in cities like Ephesos, Hierapolis and the region of Cappadocia.

Santed Paulus, for example, preached in Perge Derbe, Lystra, Psidian Antioch, Ephesos and Konya. The New Testament contains the Ephesian Letter, which Apostle Paulus wrote to the Christians in Ephesos: The first Eppistle of the Johannes Apocalypse (Apk 2, 1-7) to the seven communities in Asia Minor (Apk 1, 11).

Also Sainted Petrus settled in Asia Minor, in Antioch, and launched the first Christian Church in a hole.

Fresco "Paulus Grotte" (hole of Paulus) in Ephesos

Fresco "Paulus Grotte" (hole of Paulus) in Ephesos

(Source of the picutre)

Another legend tells that the Virgin Mary settled with the circle of women arround Jesus and the Apostle Johannes in an house near Ephesos and instructed a lot of people in skills for healing and the teaches of Jesus till her own ascencion.

Even today Turkish people visit the gravel of Maria and leave papers with their wishes on the walls.

Sarkophag of Maria Magdalena in Ephesos

Sarkophag of Maria Magdalena in Ephesos

Source of the picture

It is counted that there also took place the dialog of the early Christian philosoph and church father Justinus with the Jew Tryphon around 157, which stands formal in the tradition of the Platonic Dialogs.

Till the Late Classic Period Ephesos was a prominent city as a place of pilgrimage as well as bishop’s see. Ephesos was the capital of the profane diocese Asiana.

Further in Nicea (today Iznik) in the Turkish Marmara Region, between Bursa and Istanbul (in this time Constantinople and former Byzanz) took place the first Ecumenical Council in 325, which was convined by the Roman Emperior Konstantin I. In 431 in Ephesos was held the 3rd Ecumenical Council, which was convined by the Emperior Theodosium II, which also is named the “Council from Ephesos”. In 449 here also took place the so-called “Robber Synode”, which already could be seen as the first beginning of the separation of the both churches – the Roman-Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox churches.

Up to date Istanbul is the domicil of the religious head of the Orthodox churches, which with its 25 million adherer is the third biggest Christian confraternety of the world.

Bartholomäus I, relegious head of the Orthodox Christians

Bartholomäus I, relegious head of the Orthodox Christians

Source of the picture

Knowing all these historical sequences and further consider that the Seldjuks only in 1071 took the dominance over Anatolia after the battle of Manzikert (the Seldjuks converted in 970 to the Islam), that Jesus for the Muslims is the last prophet before Mohammed, the Christian Motifs on the silk carpets from Hereke are not as incomprehensible like before, but we should understand them as a reminiscence to the own great history, what up to date contains important parts of the Christian one.

Hereke silken Carpet -  "The Last Supper", Detail

Hereke silken Carpet - "The Last Supper", Detail

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One Response to “Christian Motivs on Turkish Hereke Carpets?”

  1. #Hereke silken rug – #wall-hanging “Last Supper” « Says:

    […] I have seen Christian Motifs on Hereke silken rugs first time, I asked myself, why they are displayed on rugs originating from the mostly Muslim […]

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