The format of the present lot is particularly unusual and its intended function mysterious. The 18th century König lion dog circular carpet is of similar proportions but Michael Franses argues this could have been cut from a larger weaving (M. Franses, Lion-dogs Hundred Antiques Classical Chinese Carpets I, London, 2000, pl.10, p.42). Larger circular Chinese carpets, woven in wool and earlier in date, are known and it is thought that they were used on the floor of tents when the emperor or dignitaries were travelling. It is possible that our smaller circular rug was originally intended as a table cover with the long silk fringes falling decoratively over the sides. The Fenghuang, or phoenix, depicted here in a counterpoised pair, is possibly the second most significant creature after the dragon in Chinese iconography and is a symbol of the empress and longevity. A comparable example from the collection of Dr and Mrs William T. Price, with the same stylised wave border but lacking its fringes and depicting foo dogs, sold in Sotheby’s New York, 31 January 2014, lot 108.