Floral Carpet

wool pile on a wool foundation

591 x 244cm

One class of Safavid carpets has an all-over pattern of scrollwork in the main field. The designs employed are varied, but they often incorporate the two types of scrollwork that were standard in this period: palmette scrolls, which were sometimes so thick that they take on the form of  ‘arabesque’ strapwork [see TXT 176], and sinuous vines bearing composite lotus blossoms and rosettes and feathery sickle-like leaves. In the group to which this carpet belongs, however, only the latter were used, and the pattern has been transformed by increasing the size of some of the floral elements and leaves and reducing the scrollwork linking them to an almost geometric net. In the process, the complex structure of the pattern has been obscured, and the enormous blossoms give the impression of being arranged in orderly rows. The effect is very striking indeed, not least because the bright colours employed for the flowers and leaves are set against a dark navy ground.

J.M. Rogers, The Arts of Islam. Masterpieces from the Khalili Collection, London 2010, cat.400, pp.336–7.