Khorasan compartment design carpet fragment
Iran or Afghanistan, 2nd half 16th century
This brilliant fragment, with its elegant drawing and unusually broad palette of as many as 20 colors, represents a pinnacle of aesthetic and technical achievement even in its fragmentary state. The pattern of staggered rows of cartouches alternating with lobed medallions repeats infinitely, allowing reconstruction of the central field pattern of the original carpet (see drawing at right). No border fragment survives from this carpet, so the border pattern is unknown.
Cartouche patterns such as this one were originally created for binding and illumination designs of the royal book workshop of the Safavid court. Complex motifs such as cloudbands, arabesques, and especially the clusters of blossoms, buds, and large curved leaves visible in this fragment were popular motifs in Persian decorative arts during the second half of the 16th-century. The multi-colored background of this carpet is unusual; most classical carpets have a single ground color.
Warp: ivory cotton, occasionally orange/pink, Z4S, alternates very depressed; weft: yellow silk U x 3, occasionally 1 or 2 extra shoots red Z wool; pile: wool, 2Z
Knotted pile: AS open left, ca. 6,510 knots/dm2 = 420/in2 (in non-jufti areas)
0.76 x 2.74m (2'7" x 9'0").
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Fletcher Fund, 1991.154
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