The three medallion design is one of the most common in Khotan carpets. They are usually indigo-blue and set against a brick-red field colour. According to Bidder the design has its origin in the Ghandara-Buddhism and describes the three lotus seats which mark the seats for Buddha flanked by two Bodhisattvas in the Buddhist temples of Yotkan (=Khotan). (Hans Bidder: Carpets from East Turkestan, Tübingen, 1964, p.53) The subsequent theory has it that these were made for wedding ceremonies where the central roundel was used by the celebrant the flanked on the other roundels by the couple. A carpet of similar field design is illustrated in Davide Halevim: Oasi. Memorie e Fascino del Turkestan Orientale, Milan, 1999, no.6).
The design however encompassed the well drawn version of one of the most sought-after and archaic of all Khotan border designs. There are two theories about the origin of this design. One has it that it comes from the Chinese single cloud design which has been worked into a reciprocal pattern (Bidder, op.cit., pp.64-65). An alternative is that it is an adaptation of the prehistoric twin-horn motif, and represents the earthy dark counter-cloud. This (kotchak) design is one that is frequently used in Turkman carpets and jewellery, also symbolising male virility, originally deriving from the horns of a ram. The reciprocal nature of the design means that these are not necessarily mutually exclusive; each one can represent each half of the form. For a similar border design which in places also has the little half-blossoms set into a motif, please see in Davide Halevim. Magnificent Carpets and Tapestries, Christie's London, 14 February 2001, lot 99.