The pictorial scenes depicted in the present rug are taken from the massive Sassanian rock reliefs at Naqsh-i-Rajab and Naqsh-i-Rustam, dating from the third century A.D. The lower panel depicts the earliest and most famous of these reliefs at Naqsh-i-Rustam. Carved into the cliff near the Tombs of Darius and Xerxes, it depicts Ardashir I, the founder of the Sasanian dynasty (226-40 AD), seated on a horse receiving a diadem symbolizing sovereignty from the god Hormuzd (Ahuramazda). Under the horse of the King lies the last of the Parthian Kings, Artabanus. Under the horse of Ahuramazda lies "the one who lies," the devil Ahriman. Behind Ardashir, holding a fly-whisk, is a guard, perhaps his son Shapur, which means "the son of the Shah." The upper panel relates to a stone relief at Naqsh-i-Rajab which depicts the investiture of Shapur (241-72 A.D.) son and successor of Ardeshir I.
The same cartoon as the present lot was also used by Abu'l Qasem Kirmani on an identical piece in the carpet Museum in Tehran. The museum has another example of his work which depicts a different tomb carving, suggesting that he perhaps wove a series of rugs portraying the various rock carvings depicting the "King of Kings" of the Aryans, near Persepolis, Gans-Ruedin E., Splendeur du Tapis Persan, Fribourg, 1978, pp.436-9.