• Oriental Rugs and Carpets auction at Christies

    Sale 11939

    Oriental Rugs and Carpets

    18 October 2016, London, King Street

  • Lot 9

    A SOUMAC CARPET

    EAST CAUCASUS, FIRST HALF 19TH CENTURY

    Estimate

    A SOUMAC CARPET
    EAST CAUCASUS, FIRST HALF 19TH CENTURY
    With an unusual archaic lattice design, light even wear, heavily corroded black, minor cobbled repairs, both outer guard stripes partially rewoven
    10ft. x 4ft.10in. (305cm. x 147cm.)


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    The present lot is a variant of a group of east Caucasian flatweaves that take for their design stimulus the 17th and 18th century ‘Shield’ carpets of the same region. The earliest example is widely acknowledged as a carpet in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris whose drawing is far more organic in feel than much of the later weavings (Robert Pinner & Michael Franses, ‘Caucasian Shield Carpets’, Hali Vol.1 No.1, Spring 1978, no.1, p.6). The major design features of the group include large vertically aligned palmettes resembling shields that are flanked by serrated leaves set within borders of either curled leaves, reminiscent of Tekke weavings, or linked octagons, which are more closely related to that of the present lot. The weaver of our rug has skilfully selected and adjusted a number of the motifs of the 'Shield' carpets, creating an archaic and well-balanced composition. The linked shield palmettes are distinctive and have been interspersed with hooked lozenges, reminiscent of the large flowerheads in the Paris example, all of which are framed by a hooked lattice that is certainly not evident in all 'Shield' carpets but is clearly defined in a fragment in the Kestner Museum, Hanover and another in the Museum für Islamische Kunst, Berlin (ibid, R. Pinner & S. Franses, Spring 1978, figs.4-5, p.7). Furthermore, the white serrated leaves have been opened and given more space, creating a pleasing rhythm to the rug. A very closely related mid-nineteenth century example, with additional palmettes related to the Caucasian ‘Dragon’ group, is published by Alberto Boralevi (Sumakh: Flat-woven carpets of the Caucasus, Firenze, 1986, no.5, p.41). The Boralevi example and the present lot certainly display a greater level of variety within their design when compared with examples of the wider late 19th century group, such as a soumac published in Rachel Hasson, Caucasian Rugs, Jerusalem, 1986, no.52, p.125. A pile Kazak rug that has an almost exact field cartoon but cruder drawing and set within a crab rosette border, was offered in Sotheby’s London, 18 October 1995, lot 47.

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