Uşak carpets, Ushak carpets or Oushak Carpets (Turkish: Uşak Kilimi) are Turkish carpets that use a particular family of designs, called by convention after the city of Uşak, Turkey – one of the larger towns in Western Anatolia, which was a major center of rug production from the early days of the Ottoman Empire, into the early 20th century (although these patterns were woven in other regions also).
Historically Oushaks were classified as ‘Anatolian Rugs,’ Anatolian literally translating to ‘land of the rising sun.’ Today scholars know much more about Oushaks and are able to classify them as such. ‘Anatolian’ is used as a last resource when a more specific identification cannot be found; at which point ‘Anatolian’ refers to a carpet made in Turkey.
The level of international popularity attained by Uşak’s carpets became such that the word “Ushak” is considered an English word of Turkic origin.
In the European markets, the earlier types of Turkish carpets, before the “star” type, are now often called “Lotto carpets” and “Holbein carpets”. The terms make reference to their depiction in minute detail in paintings by Lorenzo Lotto and Hans Holbein the Younger, in which they are often placed in a way to brighten the background, and suggest status. The region of Uşak still remains a vibrant center of hand-made carpet weaving today.
Ushak (Oushak) rugs are some of the finest Oriental Rugs, so much so that many of the masterpieces of the 15th and 16th centuries have been attributed to Oushak. The popularstar and medallion carpets originated in Oushak.
Oushak rugs are known for the silky, luminous wool they work with. The dyes tend towards: cinnamons, terracotta tints, gold, blues, greens, ivory, saffron and grays.
The late 19th century saw the rejuvenation of Oriental rug production, at this time Oushak re-surfaced as a preeminent center of weaving industry. The new Oushak industry saw two major shifts in design: floral patterns in the Persian tradition were incorporated in to design and room size, decorative carpets were woven as European standards demanded.
The late 19th century weavers came from villages outside of Oushak and employed tribal techniques. Paramount to these techniques was the use of larger knots (sometimes less than 30 knots per square inch) and an all-wool foundation. The tribal style fused with the older Ushak/Smyra designs. The merger of the two styles created a new style simply known as late 19th/early 20th century Oushak carpets. The new decorative Oushak, commercially woven, employed a soft red, as its primary color offsetting the large-scale floral motifs from the field in a bright blue. The luxurious quality of the wool (for which Oushaks had always been known) aided the colors luminosity.