A beautiful Tabriz carpet 12' x 16' animal combat design signed from early 20th century. This rug is in perfect condition and belongs to a private collection. The dyes are natural with symmetrical knots. This is a magnificent piece.
On display in Metropolitan Museum in New York City
Date: second half of 16th century
Construction: Silk (warp and weft), wool (pile); asymmetrically knotted pile
Origin: Isfahan, Iran
Dimensions: 10' 10" x 24’ 9” (340 cm x 760 cm)
Provenance: Czar Peter the Great (by tradition, until 1698); Austrian Imperial House , Vienna (1698–1921); Vienna Museum für Kunst und Industrie (1921–25); [ Cardinal and Harford, London , 1925–28; sale, Christie, Manson & Wood, London, July 5, 1928, no. 146]; [ International Art Gallery , London, 1928, sold to Arthur U. Pope forRockefeller McCormick]; E. Rockefeller McCormick , Chicago (1928–d. 1932; her estate until 1943; sold to Arthur U. Pope)
In an earlier post, I wrote about the oldest carpet ever, the Pazyryk carpet. Here, I am posting several pictures of a Pazyryk reproduction which was made in Iran few years ago in Shiraz with very fine hand spun wool and natural dye.
Hunting design is another type of animal design without animals fighting each other. It is unknown when exactly this design became into existence. However, we see many rugs and textiles of hunting design from the Safavid dynasty which ruled Iran from 1501 to 1722.
Here, I am posting pictures of a Kashan rug with the size of 5' 1" x 7' 8". It is roughly 50-60 years old and we have it on sale for only $3,950. This rug is in perfect condition with original fringes at the ends and selvages on the sides. Some horse riders in court dresses are hunting animals. This is one the famous and favorite designs of Safavid courts.
This unique animal combat design silk Kashan rug is being curated in Louvre Museum in Paris. Like other Kashan carpets, it has asymmetrical knots. The pile, warps, and wefts of this rug is silk. It's size is 109 x 124 cm, 3' 6" x 4' 1". It was given to Luvre Museum in 1914 by Joanny Peytel. Unlike many other small Kashan rugs of Safavid era which have red background, this carpet has a dark blue background with red borders.
Many of these carpets made in the royal workshops were presented to foreign kings and emperors by Safavid kings. One of these silk carpets was given to Ottoman sultan Selim II as a gift by Shah Tahmasp who ruled Iran from 1524 to 1576. The design of these animal carpets were not derived from the book designs, but they were rather designed by ornamentalists who were designers worked in royal design workshops called "Naghashkhaneh".
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York city is a real treasure of Oriental and Persian carpets. Here, I am posting a Persian hand-knotted Kashan carpet with the size of 5' 11" x 7' 11". The warp, weft, and pile of this magnificent carpet is natural silk. It dates back to the second half of the 16th century, to the Safavid Iran and the rein of Shah Tahmasp. It has asymmetrical knots.
The design of this carpet is animal combat which was a favorite Persian carpet design of the Safavid courts. The border design shows a repetitive pair of birds, one male, one female on a big stylized flower.
When Russian archeologist Sergi Rudenko discovered the so called "Pazyryk Carpet" in 1949 in the 5th Kurgan in Altai Mountains in south Siberia, he never thought this could change the course and the history of carpet making and its related studies in the world. Although Rudenko thought this carpet was made in Achaemenid Persia due to its design and the resemblance of its horse riders and its other motifs to the bas-reliefs of Persepolis in south west Iran, there has been many debates and controversies about the origin of this carpet.
This rug is measured ca. 189 x 200 cm, 6' 3" x 6' 6". Its foundation and pile is wool. It has symmetrical knot and its knot per square inch is around 245 which is relatively dense and even denser than many good carpets woven today! There are 3-4 shoots of weft between each row of knots. Study of the dye of the Pazyryk carpet done by Dr. Jon Thompson and professor Harold Bohmer concludes that the red dye comes from cochineal. It is fascinating to find out that 2400-2500 years ago man knew that by using cochineal, a beautiful red color can be obtained. The red color of the carpet is a kind of scarlet shade. The Pazyryk carpet is being kept in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg in Russia.
This carpet was woven in the Iron Age, about 400-500 years before Jesus Christ was born. Its design is very complicated and could have not been drawn and executed by nomads or tribal weavers. This design could have not been transferred from someone's head and imagination to the loom. There must have been a cartoon (depicted design) or at least a sampler for the weaver to follow. There are few repeated motifs such as fallow deer, horse, four-rayed star, and griffin. This rug is full of mysteries and as I was researching and studying about it, many questions came to my mind. Let me mention and share some of them:
1- Was there one or more weaver involved in making this rug?
2- Was the weaver man or woman?
3- Did they have a depicted design (Cartoon)?
4- What type of loom was used? Wooden, metal, vertical, or horizontal?
5- Was this rug a gift, a trade object made for the market, or a funeral accessory?
6-Was the weaver, the dyer of the wool and the designer?
7- Why is the number of the motifs even numbers, 24 four-rayed stars in the central field, 42 griffins in the first border, 24 deers in the second border, 68 four-rayed stars in the third border, 28 horses and the riders in the fourth border, and 92 griffins in the 5th (last outer) border?
8- Why one man is riding and the one next to him is walking the horse?
9- Why griffins in the first border are woven counter-clock wise, deers on the second border are woven clock wise, horses on the fourth border are woven counter-clock wise, and the griffins on the fifth border are woven clock wise?
I will write more on the Pazyryk carpet in my other posts. Study of this carpet is fascinating. The more you read and study about it, the more un-answered questions you run into!
The Emperor’s Animal Carpet in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
Czar Peter the Great of Russia presented a pair of animal design Safavid carpets as gifts to the emperor of Austria, Leopold I in 1698. It is unknown if this pair was commissioned by the Czar to the Safavid court or was acquired after they were made in the court workshops. In much later date, these carpets became the property of the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna. One of these carpets which are now called the Emperor’s Carpet is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
On the technical notes, the size of this magnificent Emperor’s carpet is 330 cm by 751 cm, or 10’ 10” x 24’ 8”. It is made of asymmetrical knots with silk warp and weft. The pile is wool. It is finely and densely woven with around 400 knots per square inch. It is obvious that the dye is all natural. It is believed that this rug was made in mid16th century in the reign of Shah Tahmasp who ruled Iran from 1524 to 1576. Since Isfahan became the capital of the Safavid dynasty by Shah Abbas I (Ruled 1578-16250) in 1598, this asymmetrically knotted carpet could not be made in Isfahan. Tabriz was the capital from the inception of the Safavids from 1501 to 1555. However, since the weaving of this carpet is in asymmetrical knots, this cannot be woven in the royal workshops of Tabriz. Another possible place with long history of carpet weaving tradition is Herat. Therefore, it might be safe to claim that this Emperor’s carpet was made in Herat in northeast Iran, in the province of Khorasan. Herat became a part of Afghanistan in mid19th century.
The size, color palette, design, construction, and other variables and details of this beautiful masterpiece are in accordance with other Safavid carpets kept in museums around the world and in private collections. Some of the animals in this carpet look real, while others are fantastic and imaginary mythical creatures. Some of them are alone and some are in combat.
Dr. Khosrow Sobhe (Dr. Kay)
Certified Rug Specialist (CRS) www.LosAngelesRugCleaning.com www.RugIdea.com
Tel. 310-770-9085 The pictures are the courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the map is the courtesy of Wikipedia.
The use of Animals in Rugs and Carpets have been in effect since centuries ago. They have been part of rugs woven in cities and workshops. They have even been in tribal weaving and continue to this day. Our own tribal Gabbeh rug productions include many designs which have animals in them. The tribal weaving mostly includes animals such as goats, sheep, camels, birds, etc. since those are the animals they come in contact with on daily bases. Specially with tribal weavers, animals play a major role in their daily lives which is the reason they are included in many of their rugs.
These specific pictures of the Gabbeh Rugs posted are from our own production looms made by our weavers in the Fars province in south west Iran around the famous city of Shiraz. They are made with fine hand-spun lamb's wool and natural dye. The knot per square inch of these Gabbeh Rugs are 165.
It is very difficult to find the oldest animal design carpet in the world and even if such a carpet exists, finding its date would not be an easy task. What might be easier and more feasible is finding paintings with animal design carpets in them. At least we may hope that these paintings can be dated and the artists can be identified.
I did an extensive research on this topic and reached very interesting findings. An early Italian Renaissance painter of the 15th century named Domenico di Bartolo also called Domenico Veneziano, born 1410 and died in 1461, did the first painting shown on top here. This painting "The Marriage of the Foundlings" features a large carpet with a Chinese-inspired phoenix-and-dragon pattern. Since it is not possible to find the exact carpet shown in this painting, we have to refer to a later carpet a Phoenix-and-dragon carpet, made in the first half or middle of the 15th century with the same design.