Prayer Rugs

Since the people of Turkey, and originally the people of the Ottoman Empire, converted to Islam they provided a unique contribution to the art of the Muslim world. The prayer rug developed by Turks are breathtaking to behold and can provide you with an excellent idea for a gift. The Turkish prayer rug is only comparable in fame by Persian prayer rugs. The thing that distinguishes one from the other is the style of weave and the motifs used in the artwork.

Generally, a rug for prayer is small and portable. Muslims put them on the floor when they do their daily prayers. The dimensions of a Turkish prayer rug: two-to-four feet wide and four-to-eight feet long. The primary use is to give a clean and isolated area for the prayer. Using some religious designs, the rug also helps to generate an ambiance of the mosque wherever the rug is used.

Believers in the Islamic faith have five daily prayers to complete at specific times throughout the day. The only product that is required, generally speaking, is a rug upon which to pray.

At the time for prayer, a Muslim puts the rug on the floor so that the “top” of the rug is towards the holy city of Mecca.

After prayer the prayer rug is folded and put aside until the next daily prayer. This folding process assures the user of a clean rug for every instance of praying.

In Arabic, the word for prayer rug and that for mosque are related: both stem from the root “sajada”, the Arabic verb for prostration. Prostration before God in the daily prayers is a key component of the cycle of physical movements.

Designs woven into prayer rugs can hint at where the rug was made. Urban centers often have ornate floral patterns with plenty of curvature, whereas rugs made in villages are usually more straight and angular.

In recent times, sizes of prayer rugs have expanded. Sometimes a compass is placed into the very fabric of the prayer rug in order to aid the devout in quickly determining the direction of Mecca. Such rugs are more plentiful in non-Muslim countries where finding a masjid in time for a daily prayer is more difficult. But for their part, non-Muslims are increasingly ordering authentic prayer rugs (from Turkey, Persia, and Afghanistan) as decorative pieces for homes and businesses.

A key hallmark of the Turkish prayer rug is design. The vast majority of designs on contemporary prayer rugs are still influenced by the original Turkish prayer rugs of over a thousand years ago.

On prayer rugs, the portrayal of wildlife and images of people cannot occur. Designs exclude these options because of the ardent rejection of idolization in the Islamic tradition. However, this has given way to the expansion of geometric designs and floral patterns. The term “Arabesque” is based on this persistence in the Islamic world over the centuries to delve deeper into abstract shapes as art rather than iconography.

The meanings of the abstract design are important. Floral motifs can portray immortality through death, or blessing and fulfillment, or even abundance. Geometric motifs can portray faith, wisdom, and immortality. Sometimes a light source such as a lamp is depicted to represent the illuminating presence of God.

The Turkish prayer rug sometimes extends the pulpit imagery that can be seen in mosque architecture. The pulpit comprises a niche for prayer as well as a place upon which the preacher stands in order to deliver a sermon. Inside the niche is often a lamp that hangs as well as flowers, all of which is flanked by a pair of pillars for support. The layout of prayer rugs often mirrors this image with the pillars providing a frame for the artwork.

Sometimes the image of a doorway, or an archway, is designed into the prayer rug. This suggests a door to heaven. The implication is those who pray daily will pass through to Paradise in the hereafter.

The prayer rug is iconic in itself, even if there is an aversion to iconography in its decoration. In June 1325, when the Marco Polo of the Muslim world Ibn Battuta set out on his epic journey from Spain to Mecca for the Haj (and beyond), he took only a few things. One of which was his prayer rug.

 

 

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