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Court carpet with Animals and Embellishment, Fragment

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Mid 16th century Iranweave: wool, Warp: silk, Weft: wool and cotton315 x 186 cm

It was a miracle when the opportunity arose to purchase the missing half of one of the most important and priceless early Persian carpets belonging to the MKG’s Islamic collection in 2010. Only a very few carpet and tapestry fragments have survived; complete carpets and tapestries are very rare and the earliest examples date back to the 16th century. At that time, the Safavid rulers set up royal workshops for the production of textiles. The tapestry and carpet makers worked from patterns influenced by courtly illuminated manuscripts. Depicted at the centre of this particular carpet is a garden with wild animals situated among stylized flowers, pomegranates and vines. Lions attack bulls, while tigers pursue deer and ibexes. Motifs such as the fabulous Chinese quilin and decorative bands of clouds testify to the influence of the Mongol conquest of Iran.