This carpet was woven as one of a pair, the other of which was unfortunately one of the carpets destroyed in the Berlin Museum towards the end of the second world war (F. Sarre and H. Trenkwald: Altorientalische Teppiche, Vienna and Leipzig, 1926, vol.II, pl.7). The two carpets were designed along very strict principles but with enormous variety allowed within those confines. Their design and colouring depend on a magnificent couterpoint created by the almost symmetrical nature of the design which yet allows variation within each shape of similar outline. This was coupled with a colouration of unusually wide tonality which permits no symmetry at all. Were it not for the record of the pair, whose colours and cartoon were created in exact mirror images of the present carpet, one might have overlooked the very careful planning which must have gone into the placing of all the various shades employed.
The so-called "vase" carpets are a distinct group within the corpus of Safavid carpets. The name originates through the inclusion of vases within the design repetoire of a number of members of the group. In an exhibition orgainised by May Beattie in 1976 she combined carpets that share a common technical structure, but that display a wide variety of designs (M. H. Beattie: Carpets of Central Persia, exhibition catalogue, Birmingham, 1976, p.11). Having defined the group, she proved to general satisfaction that the technique defined pieces from a particular origin and that Kirman was the place of manufacture.
In books by the great authorities of the earlier years of tapetology there can be few carpets which have received such a consistent accolade of praise and admiration as this carpet and its pair. Von Bode and Kühnel noted that "The marvellous ability of the Persian weaver of the classic period to improvise in the course of his work found eloquent expression in such glorious productions. Lady Baillie owns the most beautiful carpet of this kind" (W. v. Bode and E. Kühnel: Antique Rugs from the Near East, 4th ed. revised by C. G. Ellis, New York, 1984, p.134). Pope states of the "vase" group of carpets that "the pair belonging to the Staatliche Museen, Berlin and Lady Baillie would take first rank in the entire class" (Survey, op.cit., p.2376). Kurt Erdmann uses the Berlin example as the archetype of the triple lattice design (K. Erdmann: Oriental Carpets, Tübingen, 1960, p.38) and notes elsewhere of the Berlin pair that "the piece was one of the earliest and most importanmt on account of the precision of its drawings and the richness of its colours" (Seven Hundred Years, op.cit, p.129). It is hard to comment much further, particularly in such company.
The so-called 'vase carpets' are a distinct group within the corpus of Safavid carpets. The name came about from the inclusion of vases within the design repetoire. In most cases the overall design has been replaced by an obvious directional design with a vase either at one end or occasionally along the sides having tendrils issuing bold palmettes and flowerheads together with an intricate complex system of scrolling vine linking the various floral motifs. The carpet offered here is a classic example of this type. In the exhibition that was orgainised by May Beattie in 1976 she combined a group of carpets that share a technical structure quite unlike other carpets of the same period. Although the technichal structure is the same, many of the designs were totally unrelated to the vase and palmette type like the one offered here. For the purpose of her catalogue she refered to the weave as 'vase-technique' because this was the method of weaving the famous group of Vase carpets; and the carpets were refered to as 'Vase'-technique carpets (Beattie, May,H.:Carpets of Central Persia with special reference to rugs of Kirman, Birmingham, 1976, p.11).