The Origins of the Chintamani Motif and its Use in Ottoman Textiles
Lecture by
Dr. Sumiyo Okumura
March 1, 2009

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The Origins of the Chintamani Motif and its Use in Ottoman Textiles and Carpets, with Dr. Sumiyo Okumura, Islamic Art and Textile Scholar and Art Historian, Turkish Cultural Foundation, Istanbul

The word “Chintamani” derives from the Sanscrit chintamani in Esoteric Buddhism philosophy. It means treasure ball or wish-granting jewel. It is also the name of the well-known Ottoman three dots and stripe pattern. Turkic people brought their own cultures based on religions like Buddhism, Shamanism and Manism with them when they came from Central Asia to Anatolia, and in their cultures, patterned animal skins like the tiger and leopard represented courage and strength, and were very important. It is theorized that the Chintamani motif originally emerged from Buddhist philosophy but was later used by Turks who mixed it with animal skin motifs as symbols of power. During the Ottoman period, these motifs were very popular as the representations of power and royalty on textiles, carpets and in all other Ottoman arts. In time, the Chintamani motif lost its meaning of power and royalty, and simply became a decorative design. Today it is frequently used as one of the traditional Turkish motifs. This talk will trace the history and use of the Chintamani motif through the cultures that used it, and show how it has been used in Ottoman carpets, costumes and textiles.

Originally from Kyoto, Japan, Dr. Sumiyo Okumura has spent the past fourteen years as an art historian in Istanbul, researching Turkish and Islamic art, particularly carpets and textiles. In 2003 she received her doctoral degree in Turkish Art History at the Institute of Turcology, Marmara University, and her doctoral thesis, “The Influence of Turkic Culture on Mamluk Carpets” was published by IRCICA (Organization of the Islamic Conference, Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture) in 2004. From 1998 to 2005 she volunteered as an assistant to Associate Prof. Dr. Hülya Tezcan at the Textile Department of the Topkap? Palace Museum, handling and cataloging the extensive carpet, costume and textile collections belonging to 700 years of Ottoman sultans. She served on the Academic Committee for the 2007 ICOC in Istanbul and wrote part of the catalogue, and is presently employed as an art historian at the Turkish Cultural Foundation. Dr. Okumura has published many articles on Islamic textile art, and has also presented papers at several conferences, most recently in Ankara, Turkey on "The Turkic Influence on the Mamluk Bow”. She also recently coordinated an exhibition of kilims, carpets and illuminations by Japanese women residing in Turkey, in the Y?ld?z Palace, Istanbul.

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