Warp: cotton, white, natural, Z3S, handspun, thick
Weft: cotton, Z1, thin, white, natural, handspun, 1 shoot
Pile: wool, Z3S, symmetric knots, no alternate warp depression, H3½xV4 per sq. in.. Some areas of offset knotting
Sides: 2 bundles of 2 body warps, each, wrapped lavender-brown, Z1 wool
Ends: top: 1 in. dark blue Z1 wool plainweave, bottom: 1 in. wool Z1 plainweave in dark blue and lavendar-brown
Although very little is known about early pile weaving in Spain and Portugal, it is unquestionable that this unusual carpet is an Iberian product. However, several factors lead us to believe that this spectacular and incomparable carpet was made in Portugal.
First of all, the use of a straightforward symmetrical knot discounts a Spanish attribution as Spanish carpets from this period employed a Spanish knot which is tied on a single warp and staggered on adjacent warps. Further, design elements displayed in this carpet are kindred to Portuguese Arraiolos needleworks. The thick vinery with simplified palmettes, the decorative diamond devices in the innermost border and the rampant lions in the lower field are all motifs similar to those found in Arraiolos examples (see Baptista de Oliveira, F., História e Técnica dos Tapetes de Arraiolos, Lisbon, 1991).
The most curious feature of this carpet is the unconventional use of a Spanish coat of arms with another in pretense in the center. In general, it is very rare to find an armorial or a coat of arms in any carpet from any culture. The inscription translates to: CAPTAIN LOPE DE MEJIA IN CANARIAS, YEAR MDXCIX .... Little is recorded about a Captain Lope de Mejia in the Canary Islands and the year, 1599, is presumably not the date when the carpet was woven but refers more to Captain Lope de Mejia or his coat of arms.