A SILK AND METAL-THREAD KHOTAN CARPET
VARIOUS PROPERTIES
A SILK AND METAL-THREAD KHOTAN CARPET

EAST TURKESTAN, LATE 17TH CENTURY

Details
A SILK AND METAL-THREAD KHOTAN CARPET
EAST TURKESTAN, LATE 17TH CENTURY
Minor wear to the silk pile, a series of small repairs along central axis, light surface dirt
12ft.5in. x 6ft.9in. (379cm. x 205cm.)
Provenance
American Art Association, New York, The V. & L. Benguiat Collection of, "Rare Old Rugs, Tapestries and Textiles", 4-5 December 1925, lot 54.
Literature
Hans Bidder, Carpets from Eastern Turkestan, Maryland, 1979, pl.28, p.76

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Lot Essay

During the Mongol Yuan and Ming dynasties, which covered a period spanning the 14th to the 17th centuries, the oasis town of Khotan developed various political associations with the states of Samarkand, Herat and Khorasan. With such a wealth of artistic influences the carpet workshops of Khotan experienced an artistic renaissance which was predominantly led by overall compositions of floral blossoms which became known as the ‘Herat’ style, (Hans Bidder, Carpets from East Turkestan, Maryland, 1979, p.74-78). The angular formation of triple blossoms arranged in various directions with interconnecting stems, shares many similarities with earlier Chinese block printed textiles.

Our carpet is part of a much smaller group that sets the same flowering blossoms within an architectural lattice which according to Bidder is based on Muslim arabesque ornamentation, whose roots could lie as far back as the Gandhara period but which would have been imported more recently by the increasing number of Indian weavers settling in Khotan (H. Bidder, ibid, p.78).

The present carpet appeared at auction in New York as part of the V & L Benguiat Collection, in 1925, pl.54, catalogued as a “Mongolian gold-woven carpet, late Ming period”. Another carpet from the same group, catalogued as “Samarkand carpet, XVII century”, was sold in the same sale, pl.27. Both carpets have slight variations of the three-blossom formation set within an arabesque architectural lattice, but both employ a rich gold embroidered field using the same herring-bone finish. The border design on both carpets is identical as are the minor stripes which indicates that they were certainly woven in the same town, if not the same workshop. Despite the early confusion as to the exact attribution of provenance, all of the group have the same subtle blues, greens and yellows in their palette with a large proportion of costly gold metal-thread. The apparent abundance of gold mining surrounding Khotan meant that the workshops could meet the demand for these luxurious carpets from the Timur courts. A similar smaller carpet with the same ogival lattice, once in the James F. Ballard collection, is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, (M.S.Dimand and J.Mailey, Oriental Rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Arts, New York, 1973, fig. 304, cat no. 230, pp.328-9.) The taste for luxurious gold ground carpets continued into the nineteenth century as seen in a carpet with a quatrefoil lattice enclosing floral sprays in the Beijing Palace Museum, (exhibition catalogue, Classics of the Forbidden City, p.100-1).

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