The stylistic vocabulary used within this carpet stems from several different periods within Chinese carpet weaving. The paired angular and rather abstract dragons set within each corner are guaizi forms that emerged at the end of the Ming and the beginning of the Qing dynasties, in the second half of the seventeenth century. The Textile Museum, Washington D.C. has a fragment of a later, early 19th century, carpet whose dragons have become even more abstract than those in the present lot, (Charles I. Rostov and Jia Guanyan, Chinese Carpets, New York, 1983, pl.29).
The field is decorated with a series of motifs which are discussed at length by Gary Dickinson in his essay on the hundred antiques. He attributes their appearance at least partly, to the search for legitimacy on the part of the Kangxi emperor (1662-1722) who founded the Qing dynasty, (Gary Dickinson, "The hundred antiques", in Michael Franses (ed.): Classical Chinese Carpets, London, 2000, p.57 sqq.). The antiques are a visible manifestation of part of the Confucian philosophical ideas, partly developing from the "eight auspicious sybols". The emperor, as a Manchu, wanted actively to court the existing Confucian literati.
The swastika border, a symbol of good luck, appears early on in the 17th century and has remained a key design element within Chinese carpet weaving to the present day. The border design on the present lot however is more complex than many as it has a three dimensional perspective that only begins to emerge in the second half of the 18th century. The same border design can be found on a carpet in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection (Michael Franses and Rupert Waterhouse, Classical Chinese Carpets I, London, 2000, pp.48-9, pl.15), and another formerly in the Berdj Andonian collection, New York which was recently offered at Sotheby's, New York, 14th December, 2006, (op.cit. pp.52-3, pl.16).