Khorasan multiple medallion design carpet fragment
Iran or Afghanistan, 2nd half 16th century
These three fragments are from a single early Khorasan carpet of striking grandeur and elegance. The large-scale pattern of skillfully-drawn medallions in staggered rows, perfectly suited to infinite repetition, gives a sense of the vast size of the original carpet (see drawing at right). Indeed, the largest fragment (bottom left) still possesses about two feet of the original side finish along its lower left edge, even though there is no border there. This means that the carpet must have been made in sections, each with half-medallions completed by adjacent sections, and with border only at the outside edge of the assembled pieces. It is an early example of wall-to-wall carpeting.
Originally part of one section, these three fragments fit together like puzzle pieces. Typical Khorasan characteristics are present, such as multiple colored bands in the motif outlines with little spiral projections along their edges, a preference for particular colors such as orange and a blue-green, as well as a fondness for red outlining in places.
The lack of embellishment in the background lends a spare, slightly austere quality to this carpet. This spareness of design is more familiar in Turkish carpets than in Persian. In fact, three of the five surviving fragments of this carpet were first acquired in Istanbul. Perhaps this carpet was originally commissioned for a large palace hall or mosque in Istanbul, or was a gift from the Persian Shah to the Ottoman Sultan during the second half of the 16th century.
Clockwise from top:
Warp: ivory cotton, Z4S, Z5S, alternates very depressed; weft: 1 & 3, ivory cotton, 3Z: 2, beige/yellow silk U: pile: wool, 2Z, some Z
Knotted pile: AS open left, occasional jufti, ca. 4216 knots/ dm2 = 272/in2 (non-jufti)
2.91 x 1.17m (9'7" x 3'10")
The Textile Museum, Washington DC, acquired by George Hewitt Myers in 1956, R63.00.17
2.57 x 3.21m (8'5" x 10'6")
Marshall & Marilyn R. Wolf Collection, New York
0.33 x 1.17m (1'1" x 3'10")
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Page & Otto Marx Jr. Foundation Gift and Rogers Fund, 2001.54
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