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Mamluk carpets, some of the most mysterious and unique of all knotted pile weaving, get their name from the Mamluk military caste of Egypt. For nearly 1000 years, the Mamluks had a hand in shaping the history and art of the entire Middle East. In the 9nth century the Abbasid Caliphs of Baghdad began to buy and capture slaves to serve as soldiers. Called the Mamluks, these slaves soldiers were converted to Islam, intensely trained in cavalry, archery, courage, generosity, wound care and more, and then added to the caliph’s army. By the 12th or 13th centuries Mamluk armies under various rulers had conquered most of the Middle East. They even defeated the seemingly unstoppable Mongol army in present-day Syria, defining the final southwestern boundary of the Mongol Empire. They ruled Egypt and much of the Middle East until finally being conquered by the Ottomans in 1768. As a whole they were finally defeated by the early 19th century. The earliest known examples of Egyptian carpets come from Mamluk courts of the 15th century. With centralized designs of greens, red, and abstract geometric patterns emanating in all directions, the Mamluk is certainly unique. After the 17th century they fell out of fashion and lost influence with the carpet weaving world, and so today remain “an isolated and mysterious group of high achievement.” Some have the appearance of a mosaic rather than a rug. The central motif is most often a large octagonal star, surrounded by smaller octagons and geometric motifs. No part of the field is without design. They are truly without compare in the rest of the Islamic world.