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A SILK HERALDIC RUG
A SILK HERALDIC RUG
A SILK HERALDIC RUG
A SILK HERALDIC RUG
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This lot will be removed to Christie’s Park Royal.… Read more
A SILK HERALDIC RUG

POSSIBLY KASHAN, CENTRAL PERSIA, EARLY 20TH CENTURY

Details
A SILK HERALDIC RUG
POSSIBLY KASHAN, CENTRAL PERSIA, EARLY 20TH CENTURY
Touches of wear and corrosion, minor restorations, backed and mounted
Unmounted; 6ft.4in. x 3ft.8in. (198cm. x 116cm.), Mounted; 6ft.8in. x 4ft.3in. (209cm. x 132cm.)
Exhibited
Every Object Tells a Story, 2015, no.125
Special notice

This lot will be removed to Christie’s Park Royal. Christie’s will inform you if the lot has been sent offsite. Our removal and storage of the lot is subject to the terms and conditions of storage which can be found at Christies.com/storage and our fees for storage are set out in the table below - these will apply whether the lot remains with Christie’s or is removed elsewhere. Please call Christie’s Client Service 24 hours in advance to book a collection time at Christie’s Park Royal. All collections from Christie’s Park Royal will be by pre-booked appointment only. Tel: +44 (0)20 7839 9060 Email: cscollectionsuk@christies.com. If the lot remains at Christie’s it will be available for collection on any working day 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. Lots are not available for collection at weekends.

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Lot Essay

The knot count is approximately 7H x 8V per cm. sq.

The design of this extraordinary and seemingly unique silk carpet remains somewhat of a mystery. Due to various technical characteristics, it seems likely that this rug was woven in central Persia in one of the ateliers in Kashan where the weavers were highly accomplished in weaving silks. The field design is divided into ninety-eight squares with alternating deep indigo and ivory backgrounds. Within each of the squares lies an individually drawn figure of heraldic, naturalistic or abstract form that is rich in moralistic, religious or mythical iconography. The mid-blue border is filled with a snaking angular vine that binds itself around a series of larger-scale parading animals and birds. Was the intention of this carpet to serve as a textual kaleidoscope of medieval bestiary? The bestiary was one of the great illuminated manuscript traditions of the Middle Ages. Encompassing imaginary creatures, such as the unicorn, siren and griffin; exotic beasts, including the tiger, elephant and ape; as well as animals native to Europe, like the beaver, dog and hedgehog, the bestiary is a vibrant testimony to the medieval understanding of animals and their role in the world. So iconic were the stories and images of the bestiary that its beasts essentially escaped from the pages, appearing in a wide variety of manuscripts and other objects, including tapestries, ivories, metalwork and sculpture. For a fuller discussion on the subject see, E. Morrison & L. Grollemond, Book of Beasts - The bestiary in the Medieval World, Getty Publications, 2019.

Interestingly, all of the figures depicted in the present lot are two or four legged and many are with wings, apart from the closest square to the center of the design which contains the rather surprising image of a common snail. Neither winged or with legs, this small creature is neither fierce nor bold. It is the personification of patience in life and encourages one to remain calm and tolerant.

Although a carbon date test, undertaken in 2014, yielded an early calibrated date range with a 95% confidence interval to the period 1475-1640 CE, a subsequent dye test of various coloured silks, carried out in the same year, revealed that a number of the dyes were of a synthetic nature. Indeed, the bright and dark red fibres in particular, contained a particular dye that was not discovered before 1907 which meant that the rug was unequivocally woven no earlier than this date. Despite this discovery the rug's appearance remains alluringly unique and its design an unresolved mystery.

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