Gift of Islamic Art: Turkish Prayer Rug

Since Turks converted to Muslims, they devoted themselves to Islamic Art.Turkish Prayer Rug is one of the gifts of Islamic art brought to today.There are mainly 2 different type of prayer rugs: Turkish prayer rug and Persian prayer rug.The difference between them is the knot type used to weave and motifs.

A prayer rug is a small and portable carpet that Muslims put on the floor when they perform their prayers.These rugs are typically 2-4ft wide and 4-8ft long. Its main function is to provide a clean and isolated platform for the prayer. With the specific patterns on its surface, it also aims to bring the atmosphere of a mosque to wherever they take it.
Muslims pray five times a day. The only product they need to perform their prayers is a prayer rug.

When the time for prayer comes, the worshiper lays the rug on the ground, so that the top points towards the direction of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

After prayer, the rug is immediately folded or rolled, and put away for the next use. This ensures that the rug remains clean.

The Arabic word for a prayer rug is “sajada,” which comes from the same root word (SJD) as “masjed” (mosque) and “sujud” (prostration).

In most tribal and village weaving the arch is more angular in nature while the formal or city prayer rugs can be very ornate and flowing in design.

In the last 100 years is has become more common to see larger size rugs woven using the directional prayer rug motifs but these are generally not made for actual use as a prayer rug but made for export to western countries where the prayer rug styles have become popular as a decorative floor covering.

The only larger sized ones that are made for actual devotional use is the ‘saf’ or ‘family prayer rug’. These weaving can be quite long in comparison to the width and appear as any chosen number of arches laid side to side.

An important factor in the Turkish Prayer rug is how it is decorated and designed. Most of the designs that you see on the Prayer Rugs have been influenced by the original Turkish prayer rugs, which are said to have come around in the 9th century.

The depiction of animals and humans are not permitted in the designs of these carpets because there is no idolization in the Islamic religion. These rugs are usually decorated in floral and geometric patterns called “Arabesque”.Prophet Muhammad spoke against the artistic representation of human and animal.Muhammad also stated that the rugs should not be elaborately decorated because it might devoid your attention from prayer, but they do not adhere to this.

The floral designs are more stylized and rectilinear than the geometric design. Most flowers and plants depicted in the rugs have a special meaning. For example the cypress tree represents mourning as well as immortality through death. The palm tree and the coconut represent blessing and fulfillment and the peony is a metaphor for wealth.

The geometric symbols used to decorate prayer rugs are also significant, such as the crescent moon that signifies faith and the endless knot that represents wisdom and immortality.

Some include a lamp hanging from the arch of whose light symbolized the presence of Allah. It may include handprints or a pair of feet shown on the rug to mark the place of the worshiper as a sort of guide in prayer. As well as, water jugs and combs.

Some rugs contain a mini-bar, from which the Koran is read.Calligraphy was used in decoration to state religious motifs and prayers from the Koran as well.

The decoration of the Turkish prayer rug also has its ties to the Islamic religion as each rug is decorated with a prayer niche, a concept adopted from mosque architecture.

Inside the niche there is usually a hanging lamp or flowers and two columns that support it.The whole layout of the rug is centered around the niche.

The niche lies in the field or ground, and is the surrounded by four spandrels in each of the four corners.

Outside the spandrel is the elaborately decorated inner guard strip, then comes the main border, and then the outer guard strip. If there is more than one niche then more than one person was meant to sit on it.

Turkish Prayer Rug have always been an important factor in the decoration of these Islamic religious symbols.

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