Mamluks

Mamluk rugs are named for an elite military caste that started in the Middle East around the 9th Century. Recruits were bought  as slaves by sultans when pre-pubescent young men and subjected to rigorous military training. Their ranks quickly became the elite of the sultan's armies.

In 1250 the Mamluks took over the Sultanate in Syria/Egypt and the following year defeated the Mongols. They were also instrumental in defeating the Crusaders.

The Mamluks ruled until over-run by the Ottaman Turks in 1517, but continued to be influential in Egypt.

During their rule, the Mamluks nourished Islamic arts and crafts. One of their artistic bequests to us is the Mamluk rug that was made mostly in Egypt.

It is characterized by strictly rendered geometric forms and repeating elements that seemed ranked like an army on parade.

The predominant color is red, but rich yellows, blues and greens are also prominent.

Mamluk Green/Light Blue

We first notice the fabulous coloration with this rug. We know its Mamluk because even the floral elements in the field are strictly ordered and  contained in regular geometric shapes.

Mamluk Caramel/Caramel

Notice the formations ranked across the bottom and top of the rugs field. The light blue geometric medallion and the darker blue inner borders give this rug charisma.

Mamluk Rust/Light Green

The ordered squares in the field of the rug is called "chessboard" and is sometimes seen as an all-over pattern in Mamluks.

Chessboard

Another chessboard pattern with orderly losenges ranked around a thin border. 

More floral; less geometric

This weaver chose a more floral, less geometric pattern. The mamluk tradition shows in the ordered structure of the elements.

Double Field

This rug has a double field with two medallion-like structures. One is eight-sided; the other eight-pointed. The "eight" theme appears in many Mamluks. Perhaps it's symbolic of the Mamluk military structure.

Egyptian Mamluks have been shipped around the world. These days, some fine copies in the Mamluk tradition are being made as far away as India.

Harry

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