Under the Mughal maharajas in 17th century India, and most particularly during the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan (1628-1658), heightened attention was placed on the naturalistic rendering of the surrounding flora, as seen in the previous lot in the present sale. Distinctive designs comprising rows or formal arrangements of naturalistic flowers were woven upon rich ruby-red grounds, accurately displaying recognisable specimens of lily, poppy, carnation, tulip, violet and narcissus. Such designs remained popular with Indian weavers, both in carpets and textiles, for the next few hundred years although greater artistic liberties were taken over time, often making identification problematic.
The decorative design of the present carpet recalls these early Mughal patterns but is now set upon an ivory field and the flowers have been miniaturised and are perhaps less recognisable. Many such Mughal inspired revival carpets in the 19th century were woven in the jails of Agra and Lahore, which employed similar repetitive floral designs albeit with slight variations in their colour palette (Ian Bennett, Jail Birds, Exhibition Catalogue, London, 1987, pl.26). Two such examples, with the same colour field and border as the present lot, were sold at Christie's, New York, 17 December 2003, lot 101, and in these Rooms, 29 April 2004, lot 174, and a further example sold more recently at Sotheby's, London, 8 October 2014, lot 199. The present carpet differs from those three examples however in that its inner guard stripe is in woven in a dusty rose-pink rather than a silvery sea-green.