Ali Riza Tuna – Anatolian kilims

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Ali Riza Tuna
Ali Riza Tuna

Ali Riza Tuna’s book “From Myth to Art: Anatolian Kilims” published in Geneva 2022 is a conclusion of his study and project ‘The Kilim as an Image’. It is an immersive book about the Anatolian flatweaves that opens new perspectives. Joining Hans Belting’s “Anthropology of Images” to Ernst Cassirer’s philosophy of cultures, in this book he revisit the current paradigms of the Anatolian kilim studies and develop a fresh art historical vision for understanding these flatweaves, exposed by a detailed essay and 85 illustrated examples. Among other important kilims, the oldest Anatolian zili to be radiocarbon dated so far, with a period of 15th century, is published for the first time. English Text 260 pages with a total of 295 illustrations.

Ali Riza Tuna was born in Istanbul and graduated as an Engineer in France. He is a retired manager from an International Company in Geneva, Switzerland. Since 1980, he has been passionate about Anatolian textiles as a collector, but also as independent scholar, researcher, lecturer and author.

‘I have always been interested in arts since my high school times, my eyes were educated by the rich holdings of Istanbul mosques and museums on one side, and the discoveries of the western paintings during many trips to Europe on the other side. Leaving Turkey in 1980, the rugs continued for me to be a direct connection to the spirit of my native country. With the “discovery” of the kilims, and other flatweaves as well as many historical rugs on the market I started to collect pile rugs, çuvals and kilims with the knowledgeable help of many people in the bazaars of Istanbul. Over the years it has been my pleasure to acquire pieces coming directly from Anatolia, mostly in “as found state”. I have rarely separated from a piece I have acquired. I am currently the happy guardian of above 100 Anatolian kilims, pile rugs and other weavings that stretch over a time span from the 15th to 19th centuries.’ said Ali Riza Tuna to Jozan Magazine.

Ali Riza Tuna’s kilim collection is published in his book “From Myth to Art: Anatolian kilims”.

Examples from the book:

Papers and lectures by Ali Riza Tuna

Ali Riza Tuna during his lecture at ICOC Stockholm 2011 (Jozan archive photo)
Ali Riza Tuna during his lecture at ICOC Stockholm 2011 (Jozan archive photo)
  • Turcoman Pattern designs on a newly discovered 18th c. Ushak carpet -International Conference on Oriental Carpets – ICOC Hamburg 1993
  • Turkmen based designs in historical Anatolian carpets – 2d Turkish Carpets Congress – Istanbul 1994
  • A structural Study of Ottoman carpets in Transylvanian Churches – 10th ICOC Istanbul 2007; published in OTCS VII
  • Back to the Future – Reconstruction of Anatolian carpets from Renaissance paintings – ICOC 11th, Stockholm, 2011 and Volkmanntreffen, Berlin, 2012
  • several conferences in Geneva and France about the art of the Anatolian Kilims and Carpets (for international clubs)
  • Contributor to the book : Antique Ottoman carpets in Transylvania , 2d edition by Stefano Ionescu- authoring of the section on late Ottoman Carpets.
  • lectures in the Fine Arts School of Mediterranean University, Antalya, Turkey-2013-14
  • ACOR Speaker Feb-March 2015 : lectures in 10 cities in Canada and US on two subjects (Reconstruction of Anatolian rugs ; Anatolian Kilims from tradition to modernity)
  • Keynote lecturer 9th Mc Coy Jones Lectures- de Young Museum , San Francisco Feb 2016- Kilims and Modern Art
  • Kilim lecture in Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, CA- Feb 2016
  • Articles on Kilims and exhibition reviews on specialised magazines as HALI, Selvedge and ALIVE
  • Lecture “Anatolian carpet and the western world : The history of a mutual exchange”, Istanbul Carpet week 2018
  • Lecture “ The Kilim as an Image” , HALI symposium, National Gallery London – June 2019

Special projects by Ali Riza Tuna:

Re-woven carpet
Re-woven carpet presented by Ali Riza Tuna at ICOC Stockholm 2011 during his lecture ‘Back to the Future – Reconstruction of Anatolian carpets from Renaissance paintings’. Originally depicted by Ghirlandaio. (Jozan archive photo)
  • Back to the Future : (active since 2007) reconstruction of extinct models of Anatolian carpets from Renaissance paintings. The project aims to re-experience the beauty of old Anatolian carpets with no remaining examples through reconstruction of the design in actual knotting, and re-weaving by traditional techniques and vegetable dyes.
  • The Kilim as an Image : The study of the Anatolian kilim as an anthropological image, and the symbolic form of the nomadic cultures of Anatolia. Formalising the “plastic elements” of the imagery and the evolution from mythical symbols to a specific image “style”.
  • A structural Study of pre-Ottoman Anatolian carpets: Structural study of Anatolian rugs from the pre-ottoman periods conserved in museums and private collections throughout the world.
  • Sponsoring the renewal of the conservation of the Seljuk carpets in the TIEM Istanbul (2018-2023). To renew the conservation two Seljuk fragments in the TIEM with the state of art knowledge through involvement of the Berliner Museum of islamische Kunst (Anna Beselin) in order to assure their survival for the future generations.

Study Trips

St. Margaret Church in Medias
St. Margaret Church in Medias
  • 2008 : Historical Ottoman rugs in Transylvania (Brasov, Medias, Sibiu) with Stefano Ionescu and Jürg Rageth. Handling and analysis of Anatolian rugs from the holdings of the Transylvanian churches and museums.
  • 2010 : Group trip to Transylvania and refresher study of the above mentioned rugs
  • 2016 : Technical analysis of the Hecksher Seljuk and Animal rug fragments in the storage of the de Young museum in San Francisco.

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