This carpet was offered as a Royal gift by the Persian court at the Royal wedding in 1939, between the sister of King Farouk I of Egypt, Princess Fawzia, to the last Shah of Persia, Muhammad Reza Pahlavi. The carpet remained one of the most treasured posessions of King Farouk and was one of the few pieces that accompanied him to Rome when he was forced into exile in 1959 where he remained until his death in 1965.
The design of this carpet encapsulates everything that the Persians aspired to in their quest to create the perfect paradise. The word 'Paradise' literally comes from the ancient Persian Pairidaeza, meaning 'enclosed garden' and one can see here a secret garden at the height of Spring with its heavily laden flowering fruit trees and abundant fish and birds. The garden is divided by narrow channels that carry the precious commodity of water that was so scarce in such an arid land. On the banks of each channel spring tulips and roses.
Music, culture and the arts became an intrinsic way of life within Safavid culture under the reign of Shah Abbas (1587-1629). At the Ali Qapu Palace in Isfahan the grounds were designed as four gardens in one, known as the Chahar Bagh. This was where a walled garden was divided into four quarters by the intersection of a longitudinal and latitudinal watercourse. The present lot does not have a longitudinal watercourse but has a hidden waterway that weaves beneath the foliate spandrels and feeds its way back to the central pool of water by means of latitudinal riverlets.
The earliest surviving examples of 'Garden' carpets are few in number and were noted as being of Kirman weaving dating from the 17th century. The Jaipur Chahar Bagh Carpet from the early 17th century was discovered in 1937 at Amber, the old palace of the maharajas of Jaipur, (now in the Central Museum, Jaipur and illustrated in Hali, Vol.5, No.1, p.14, pl.5). That carpet displays a central ornamental lake enclosing a pleasure pavilion with two supporting aquatic reserves. A further example still exhibited in Vienna at the MAK Museum contains the same wonderful naturalistic display of fish and birds from which the present carpet draws heavily. Whereas some of the gardens within these early carpets became increasingly formal, the present lot encourages you to step between the low hung branches of the trees as you make your way to the enchantingly cool pool of water that will encourage you to rest longer as you contemplate your path to paradise.