Warp: cotton, ivory, natural, Z6S
Weft: cotton, grey, natural, Z2S, 3 shoots alternating: 1,3 straight, 2 wavy
Pile: wool, Z2; asymmetric knots open left; 70-80 degree alternate warp depression, H14 x V14
Sides and ends: both not original
Colors: ruby, medium blue, dark blue, ivory, pale green, apricot, blue-green, sand, mid-green, cherry, lime, spruce green, light blue, brown-black, salmon-rose, mustard
Dimand and Mailey (Dimand, D.S. and Mailey, J., Oriental Rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1973, p. 42) ascribe a group of medallion carpets stylistically to the first twenty-five years of the Safavid dynasty and to which this carpet most certainly belongs. This group includes the dated medallion hunting carpet in the Poldi Pezzoli Museum in Milan (op. cit, p. 42, pl. 64), one in the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum (King, D. and Sylvester, D., The Eastern Carpet in the Western World, London, 1983, p.42, pl.58), an example in the Victoria and Albert Museum (McMullan,J.V., Islamic Carpets, New York, 1965, pp. 53, 54, pls. 10, 10a) and in the Christopher Alexander Collection in California (Alexander,C., A Foreshadowing of 21st Century Art: The Color and Geometry of Very Early Turkish Carpets, New York and Oxford, 1993, pp. 182-89). It is also similar to a Tabriz Medallion Carpet formerly in the collection of The Barons Nathaniel and Albert von Rothschild sold at Christie's London 8 July 1999, lot 188.
With the establishment of the first Safavid court, a number of leading artists were brought to Tabriz from Herat and other cultural centers during the first two decades of the 16th century. These artists were successfully experimenting with carpet designs and color variations which can be seen by comparing this example with the other known Tabriz medallion carpets cited above. The present carpet shares a variety of features with this group including size, color, design and motifs although it is more closely related to the Calouste Gulbenkian and the Christopher Alexander Collection examples. The present red field has a counterposed design of delicate tendrils linking angular palmettes around a sea-green central medallion with well proportioned scrolling arabesques terminating in split palmettes. In the Gulbenkian and Alexander examples, both the colors and design motifs in the field and medallion have been reversed. All three carpets have identical minor inner guard stripes, although the main border designs differ. The well-drawn polychrome linked floral cartouches on the present example is a colorful and simpler version of the borders of those best known of all medallion carpets, the Ardebil carpets in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.