The origin of the design seen in the present carpet is clearly the carpets of the 'vase' group with large scrolling 'sickle' leaves encircling bold palmettes. Two of the best known are illustrated in Alexander Pope, A Survey of Persian Art, Oxford, 1938, one in the Corcoran Gallery, Washington D.C. (pl. 1234), the other in the Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, (pl. 1253). In the Gulbenkian sickle-leaf carpet it is the palmettes within the gracefully curling leaves which predominate.
The transfer of this seventeenth century design into eighteenth century North West Persia and the Caucasus is well documented. A Caucasian carpet sold in these Rooms, The Bernheimer Family Collection of Carpets, 14 February, 1996, lot 73, shows the transition of the design as it becomes less rhythmic and more angular in its drawing. The size of the sickle-leaves has diminshed as have the very small single flowerheads that they enclose. In a later North West Persian carpet in the Textile Museum, (Charles Grant Ellis, Early Caucasian Rugs, Fort Worth, 1975, no.36, pp 102-103) the over-sized leaves encircle a small rosette but have become noticeably more mechanical and angular in drawing.
The present lot was woven in the east Caucasus towards the end of the transition in the late 18th century, and in keeping with other intricate east Caucasian designs, settles with a uniformly small-scale design of balanced paired sickle-leaves of angular form, alternating with rows of minor individual flowerheads.