This large-format carpet was woven in Bakshaish, a town that lies close to Tabriz in north west Persia, which is considered to be one of the earliest weaving centres in the region. While the two cities remain close geographically, their designs are markedly different. Although the vast majority were woven to large-scale formats, the simple yet powerful two-dimensional designs of Bakshaish carpets were drawn in a geometric style in warm harmonious colours, and which retain a naivety and loose interpretation of much smaller village rugs. The frequent inclusion of small animals, amulets, abstract flowers and occasional figures on some, retains a rustic, almost tribal appearance.
Their dating has been a matter of controversy among experts. Some scholars believe that their production did not begin until the late 19th century while others ascribe earlier dates. In the absence of information from documentary sources, we are often forced to rely on a critical comparison of styles to throw light on the matter of the carpets’ age. Reassuringly this is not the case with the present carpet which, very unusually, bears a woven date (AH 1318) in not one, but four places within the rust-red medallion.
Coveted by decorators, Bakshaish carpets have proved consistently popular as decorative furnishing pieces both in Europe and the United States. The open-spaced design and large areas of delicate shaded ice-blue found in both the border and linked spandrels of the present carpet, make it a particularly attractive example.