Permanent Collection Carpets

Artistic intervention: Füsun Onur

The MAK Carpet Collection is one of the most famous in the world. These unique pieces from the 16th and 17th centuries feature an incomparable variety of patterns and colors, materials, and techniques.
The high degree of cultural exchange between Europe and Asia is vividly exemplified by carpets. Produced in the Middle East and south-western Asia, carpets were coveted commercial products. They were traded internationally as luxury goods, being mobile and quite easy to transport. The associated migration of techniques, materials, and motifs illustrates a dialog that not only involved the lslamic world, but also extended to encompass Europe. A central aim of this presentation is to use the exhibited carpets to illustrate this reciprocal, intercultural dialog.

This presentation of the MAK's world-famous carpet collection conveys lnsights into the development of carpet-making from lndia to Europe and from the late 15th to the 18th century. The exhibited carpets are organized according to periods of origin and places of manufacture, and include items made for noble courts as well as commercial output. While
these were imported to Europe from the East for quite some time, the 17th century saw the first European manufactories take up production. And these new European carpets, though influenced by Eastern models, very soon developed a formal language of their very own.

The museum has been collecting carpets ever since it was founded. One major purchase was made in 1907, when the present-day MAK acquired the holdings of the k. k. Österreichisches Handelsmuseum [Imperial Royal Austrian Trade Museum]. But the most important carpets came to the museum from the former Austrian Imperial House of Habsburg ln 1922. The collection's main focus lies on classical 16th and 17th-century carpets from the Middle East and south-western Asia, including the territories of present-day Egypt, Turkey, and Iran.

The spatial concept by Michael Embacher, who took his inspiration from the idea of a silkworm's cocoon, serves as a metaphor for the mutual
networks; the carpets themselves are held in place with steel-wire ropes.
The artistic intervention by Füsun Onur, who lives and works in lstanbul, tells of the transformations of successive eras, both in Western and Eastern images, and in the spheres of culture and religion. The artist has created an ephemeral angel who floats high above the collected objects much like an all-uniting or all-questioning sign.

Reinstallation of the MAK Permanent Collection Carpets, since 9.4.2014


The MAK Permanent Collection Carpets is accompanied by the MAK/GUIDE Carpets, edited by Christoph Thun-Hohenstein and Barbara Karl, texts by Barbara Karl, Edith Oberhumer, Christoph Thun-Hohenstein, Bärbel Vischer, and Angela Völker, as well as an interview with Michael Embacher, German/English, ca. 192 pages and appr. 100 color illustrations, Vienna / Munich-London-New York: MAK / Prestel Verlag, 2014. Available at the MAK Design Shop for € 9,90.