This fragment, with no visible signs of fading, is a perfect example of just how brilliant the colours of Safavid carpets were when they first came off the looms. It consists of two main sections with smaller inclusions taken from the border of the same carpet. The broad cherry-red border is dominated by two entwined mid-blue strapwork arabesque bands that are punctuated with tonal green and brown palmettes that alternate in direction. Both are crisply drawn and are accentuated by sharp white outlines and are uncommonly woven in the same colour while most other examples from this group are woven in contrasting colours. Beneath these run thin vines dotted with small leaves, palmettes and flowers. A slightly larger fragment (248 x 135cm.) from the same carpet, formerly in a private Parisian collection, was purchased by the Keir Collection in 1970. That fragment displays a similar arrangement of border sections together with the original soft green scrolling vine inner guard stripe (F. Spuhler, Islamic Carpets and Textiles in the Keir Collection, London, 1978, pp.84-5, no.43).
Three smaller fragments of varying size are known, each bearing the same green inner guard stripe. One is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, (acc. no. T.30-1956) purchased from an Istanbul source; another was formerly with The Textile Gallery, London, now in a private Milanese collection; and a third fragment, formerly in the Wher collection, sold in these Rooms, on 3 May 2001 lot 75 and 10 October 2016, lot 188. The Wher fragment differs from the others in that it displays an energetic pattern of vinery taken from the top left indigo spandrel rather than the border. A slither of this same pattern can be seen on the Milanese fragment which also confirms that the carpet was woven with a green internal guard stripe and a golden yellow outer guard stripe which has been rewoven on our fragment (J. Eskenazi, Il tappeto orientale dal XV al XVIII secolo, London, 1981, pp.43-43, fig.3 & no.23). The exuberant drawing of the spandrel on the Wher fragment and the scale of the drawing is very similar to that in the ivory spandrel on the complete Rothschild Tabriz Medallion carpet, sold Christie’s London, 8 July 1999, lot 188.
The same green inner guard stripe present on the other fragments from this group is displayed on a carpet with a pale apricot field centred with a 16-point medallion that was shown by Yves Mikaeloff at the 14th Biennale Antiquaires, (HALI, Issue 41, Sept-Oct 1988, p.94).