Istanbul welcomes back ICOC, the International Conference on Oriental Carpets

By Cornucopia Connoisseur | June 4, 2024

Elmadağ Kilim on display at Tophane-İ Amire.

The ICOC (International Conference on Oriental Carpets) is back in Istanbul for the first time since 2007 and Cornucopia will be there to greet you at our stand at the Dealers Fair at the Marmara Hotel in Taksim, June 6-9. A superb conference is offer, bringing together numerous talks by local and International scholars on the theme of Oriental Carpets Yesterday and Today, The Future of Tradition. And there are exhibitions, openings and events galore around the city, pulled off, as only Istanbul can, with amazing flair and spontaneity. Register here to attend. 

The Conference kicks off at the Dolmabahce Palace Art Gallery at 3:30 on Thursday, June 6, with lucky registrants assembling for Woven Treasures: Ottoman Rugs and Textiles from the Ottoman Palace, a specially organised exhibition of textiles and rugs from the Topkapı Harem, dating from the 16th century. From there, at 6pm, guests will be whisked back to the Marmara Hotel, the conference venue, for the opening night gala and cocktails and a celebration of two more exhibitions: Fabrics Atlas, by ITHIB and Women Behind the Weave, by Christopher Farr.

One of the exhibits at the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art: Prayer Rug wall-hanging (‘SAJJADA LIL-ZAINA’) circa 1870, Zouk Mikael (Lebanon Mountain), Ottoman Lebanon. Tapestry flatweave. Woven in silk, gold and silver metallic thread on a cotton foundation.

Friday, June 7: Thirteen speakers are lined up, starting with Walter Denny, one of the great living athorities on Ottoman art, who then moderates a series of talks on historical carpets. After a break, Udo Hirsch takes up the mantle with a series of talks on the Archaeology of Weavings from the 2nd Millenium BC to the 1st. After lunch Ali Riza Tuna moderates a series entitled Discoveries in Collections. And later Cheri Hunter will moderate Textiles and Flatweaves.

At 6 o'clock In the evening Belkis Balpinar, artist, author and scholar, stages a special pop-up exhibition of her amazing weaves at the Anna Laudel Gallery ( And this is just a short stroll from the second major show of the week, Colors of Anatolia:Kilims from Private Collections', which opens at Tophane-i Amire at 7pm.

Selcuk, Konya 13th Century

The conference continues on Saturday, June 8, with Elena Tzareva moderating lectures on Central Asian Carpets and Felts from international and local experts.

After a short break, Alberto Boralevi introduces Trends in New Carpet Production, and after lunch a series titled Innovation in Tradition is moderated by Markus Voight. Sessions end with a panel on The Future of Tradition, moderated by Reyhan Polat.

But the night is young. At 17:30 conference-goers head for exhibitions in the Sultan Ahmet area, where many of the best carpet dealers have their shops. At 7.30 two exhibtions open at the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts: Hidden Gems from TIEM and Ottoman Era Syrian and Lebanese Textiles. Most of these pieces, dating from the 12th to the 17th century, have never been exhibited before.

Pièce de résistance on Sunday, June 9, is an exhibition of kilims collected by the famous ‘American nomad', the late Josephine Powell (seen above on the cover of Cornucopia's issue 47), which make their return to the Koc’s Buyukdere Evi in honour of the conference. Josephine, one of Cornucopia's all-time heroes, was one of the stars of 2007.

Information on exhibtion dates will be established over the coming days: watch this space.

And for those who do make it to the dealer’s fair, Cornucopia is offering a 50% discount on all its rarest issues.

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