The large upper inscription reads; farmayesh-e ‘abd al-husayn mirza salar lashkar farmanfarma 1313 which translates as 'On the order of ‘Abd al-Husayn Mirza Salar Lashkar Farmanfarma 1313'.
The smaller side inscription reads; gostardeh shavad in ghali [sic]-ye ma dar har ja keh ravad jamshid-o eskandar wa bar sad dargah shod zib-deh-e majles-e farmanfarma haft akhtar va noh falak… which translates as 'This carpet of ours is spread wherever [heroes like] Jamshid and Alexander go, and it has been the adornment of the assembly of the Farmanfarma, the Seven Stars and the Nine Firmaments … in a hundred courts'.
Persepolis, whose magnificent ruins rest at the foot of Kuh-e Rahmat (Mountain of Mercy) in south-western Iran, is among the world’s greatest archaeological sites. Renowned as the gem of Achaemenid (Persian) architecture, urban planning, construction, technology, and art, the royal city of Persepolis ranks among the archaeological sites which bear unique witness to a most ancient civilization. The city’s immense terrace was begun around 518 BCE by Darius the Great, the Achaemenid Empire’s King. On this terrace, successive kings erected a series of architecturally stunning palatial buildings, among them the massive Apadana palace and the Throne Hall (“Hundred-Column Hall”). Massive columns—of which thirteen remained standing by the 20th century—supported the roof. The staircases were embellished with rows of reliefs that displayed successions of delegates, soldiers, guards, and chariots carrying presents and offerings to honour the King. The front walls of the palace were carved with images of the Immortals of 300 fame—the Persian Kings’ noble guard, of whom five are depicted on the present rug.
The subject of the stone carvings of Persepolis and how they came to appear in Persian carpets, is the subject of a recent article written by Ben Evans; ‘Qashqa’i ‘Persepolis’ rug, Kerman ‘Persepolis’ carpet’, Hali, 188, 2016, pp.36-37. Concentrating on two examples in particular, Evans discusses how, through the aid of contemporary 19th century lithographs and photographs, carpet designers and weavers were able to reproduce relatively accurate depictions of the various stone reliefs remaining at the ancient site. Evans uses a Qashqai rug from a private collection, whose cartoon includes a French inscription beneath the throne, to illustrate how Persian weavers copied French and other European lithographs of the period. The weaver of the present lot similarly used a contemporary French lithograph as his design source confirmed by the legible but slightly mis-spelt copperplate inscription; Personages anciens à Persepolis, that runs beneath the five regal figures.
According to the upper inscription the rug was commissioned by Prince Abdol-Hossein Farman Farma (1857 – 1939), one of the most prominent Qajar princes and influential politicians of his time. Farman Farma was instrumental in bringing about the fall of the last grand vizier Atabak-e Azam, on 23 November 1896, after which he was appointed commander-in-chief of the army and minister of war. He took over the government as a self-appointed premier, and "acted as the true sovereign" until a coalition was set up against him and he was dismissed from government and finally sent into exile in Egypt. He returned some years later to continue his political career, becoming, for a very brief time, the Prime Minister in 1915. During his time in office he commissioned a number of carpets from emminent workshops, such as that of Aboul Ghasem Kermani, many of which depicted important historical and archaeological views of Iran, of which one is in the Tehran carpet museum and two were sold in these Rooms 26, November 1987, lot 120; and 15 October 1988, lot 251.