Wednesday 3 December 2014

Doors of Jannah-India

Stone floor Saphs are not uncommon in India

116-Moti Masjid,Red Fort,Delhi

117-Jami Mosque,Hyderabad

Knotted Saphs are less frequent.A Mughal era Pashmina Prayer carpet has been suggested as a possibility,although Daniel Walker in Flowers Underfoot(95) seems to think it may have been part of a Tent-hanging,or Qanat.The Aynard carpet,now Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection,is nevertheless a spectacular product.Its border plan certainly suggest a multi-niche arrangement-the carpet was also woven in a non-perpendicular fashion

118-Thyssen Collection Catalogue,Beattie,plate IX

For comparison,a velvet tent-panel(qanat) now in the MET


From the 17th-18th century,there are three basic types of Indian Saphs.
The first has been attributed to North India(Keir Collection-Spuhler,Beselin)or to Warangal in the Deccan(Steven Cohen,Daniel Walker)This type is stylistically quite different from the other two,although sharing similar construction features(z4-6 warp,perpendicular weave)and more prosaic colouring with tans and duller secondaries.

The most well-known example is in the Keir Collection and consists of a long,probably 7 niche carpet made up into two rugs


The borders of both carpets have been renewed and it is likely that a panel with pommegranate design would have been the centrepiece.This pommegranate design went on to become a popular design in the Tarim Basin.It only occurs on the four pieces in this first group

121-Lefevre 1978

122-Sandra Whitman Hali 142

Thus emphasising the close cultural ties between India and East Turkestan.

A second carpet,apparently complete,was sold at Lefevre`s in 1978 for 58,000 pounds,and may or may not be the carpet already illustrated by Jekyll in the 1920`s

123-Lefevre 6 October 1978

124-Jekyll 2 (1928-9)

A last piece is often mentioned as having been in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection,and seems slightly closer to the Jekylls rug in design(the flattened rosettes in the spandrels)and condition(similar old repairs in the first spandrel,right)

125-Textile Museum Journal II-19

The first group with its "Taj Mahal" look and more ornate borders seems decidely up-market when compared to the Warangal group,in which a strict architecture has been replaced by more window-like panels,simpler border-guards and a frequent intrusion by large trefoil outer enclosures.A looser,more playful atmosphere is afoot.There are two types:a white field  with one repeating design,and a multicoloured layout with differing mihrabs.
Six whiteground examples are known.The first appeared at the Untermeyer Auction in 1940,one of two examples on offer plus a single niche fragment

126-Park-Bernet May 11 1940(210-211)

It reappeared at Sothebys on 25 November 2008 in a truncated form,missing its left border,but still selling for $ 6,875

127-Sothebys 2008

A third time around in colour it sold for $8750 at Sothebys NY on 25 November 2008(139)

128-Sothebys 2008

Yet another four-panel fragment from the same carpet appeared at Christies on 7 October 2010.Perhaps it is the second,unillustrated Untermeyer piece(Lot 211)?

129-Christies 2010

A fragment in the Tapi Collection may well be the missing single niche item from the Untermeyer Sale,with its long vertical stem

130-Foto courtesy Markus Voigt

A similar example,but with elongated mihrab"neck" is in the Reeves Collection,Art Museum Dallas


Two further single panels are known.The first,in the V&A,is said to have come from the Treasury of the Nizam of Hyderabad.It closely resembles the Reeve example

132-S.Cohen,Sultans of the South 125

A last example in Philadelphia has been woven entirely in cotton,with the exception of red areas piled in Pashmina,yet it resembles the others in this group,even mimicking the champfered column protrusions towards the apex of the Mihrab

133-Ellis,Philadelphia,plate 66

Even in the 19th century interesting and beautiful Saph-like carpets were produced,as can be seen in an all-cotton small piece once with Bausback,which seems to have been inspired by Kalamkar textiles

134-78 x 98 cms

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