This unusual fragment, representing a spandrel from a large Tabriz carpet is drawn with an unusual energy. The majority of Tabriz medallion carpets, particularly those from the early part of the sixteenth century, have a calm and even spacing of floral motifs within the medallion and spandrels. Only in the middle of the century. with carpets like the Rothschild medallion carpet (sold in these Rooms 8 July 1999, lot 188), does the energy of the arabesque come in. Suddenly there, as here, the motifs reach out from the corner, trying to insert themselves further into the field. The drawing here is even more attenuated, with the side arabesques crowding the central motif. The spandrel also has just the beginning of the red field of the rug showing, indicating a far more cusped outline than one would normally find in a rug of this origin, again accentuating the energy of the design.
An unusual feature is the size of the main green border. This spandrel would lead to the assumption of a relatively large carpet. Yet the border width is narrow. Could the original carpet have been even larger than at first thought, with the green border only serving as the minor inner guard stripe? This would accord with the arrangement for example on the Ardebil carpet, one of the very rare instances of two substantial guard stripes on an early Safavid carpet, necessitated by its size of 34ft.6in. x 17ft.6in. (1050 x 532cm.).
Another comparable fragment from the same carpet is in the Victoria and Albert Museum.