In the meantime, I spread out that carpet and my heart began pounding. It was a seventeenth-century white Anatolian rug, true, threadbare here and there, but you know, it was the so-called birds rug with the Chintamani pattern and birds – a divine and forbidden pattern.
The Chintamani and Bird Carpet, the famous carpet short story by Karel Čapek – as well as a film – is based on a real event that happened in the first half of the 1920s, when Oriental rugs predominated among Karel Čapek’s various interests and hobbies. Čapek recognized the collector’s significance of the white Anatolian rug in a Prague shop and would have loved to buy it, but could not. In 2014, some ninety years after Čapek admired, but did not acquire, the unique carpet, the rug became part of the collections of the National Gallery in Prague.
According to contemporary nomenclature, it is a Selendi carpet with a birds pattern from western Turkey; based on contemporary knowledge, we can say the rug was made in the second half of the 16th century rather than in the 17th century. It is therefore one of the oldest Oriental carpets in the Czech collections. In preparation for its showing, it has undergone a demanding restoration process captured in photographs and a documentary film to be shown at the exhibition.
This interdisciplinary exhibition will also display other exhibits linked with Karel Čapek’s interest in Oriental rugs.