Thursday 28 May 2015

Lineage IV : Palmettes

A stiff,angular palmette emerges on Persian Medallion Carpets of the 16th Century.Some of these are amongst the oldest known Safavid carpets,and it`s likely that the Angular Palmette is a Timurid inheritance,as it can be seen on a painting from 1486.


The design does not occur in other media,being conditioned by the limitations of the carpet grid.A very fluid depiction can be seen on the Blumenthal carpet in the MET.The palmettes are placed at 45 degrees at the corners of the central medallion;in all four directions a "Buddhist" palmette has been inserted,such as will be seen later in the Emperor`s carpets.


A carpet from the McMullan Collection features a riot of ornate palmettes,including split arabesques which will later assist in the formation of the Afshan design.


A piece in the Purrmann Collection was Christina Klose`s candidate for the oldest Persian carpet;the palmettes are embossed upon half-cartouche border elements in the field.


Simpler in layout than the McMullan,a carpet once with Chris Alexander has the palmettes placed at intervals around the inside of the medallion;again,the field tracery with split palmettes will later contibute to the Afshan design.


Another fragment from McMullan,now in the V&A,places the palmettes in a vertical and horizontal position on a field interspersed with split leaves.


Divided between the V&A Museum and the Keir and Alexander collections are pieces from a medallion carpet with a fully explicit Palmette arrangement.



Originally,the fragments would have constituted a carpet such as one formerly in the Mikaeloff Collection.


A fragment,which went unsold at Christies in 1999,documents the "stiffening"customary  in all carpet chronicles,but is still probably 17th century.


And the aforementioned Bardini carpet(250) places the palmettes between leaves and sidewinders.


Designs,carpets and their progenitors wandered all over Persia.In the East,a group of heiratic carpets in monumental style adopted the Angular palmette for their own purposes.Classified as 17th Century Khorasan,this group may well have emanated from Herat.The Spiral-Vine tracery has been replaced by a thick series of connecting branches,no doubt a borrowing from South Persia.


Two further fragments utilise a primeval version of the Bacri carpets`border.Although child-like in their awkward  use of classical elements,the group is consistently epic.


Great was the joy when three fragments were united in Berlin.


A fragment at Rippon Boswell on 19 May 2007(1) fetched $9,765.


A last example survives only as a pieced together fragment in the Bardini Museum,but contains all the ingredients of a successful Angular Palmette rug.


A small carpet seems but a faint echo,and went unsold at Christies on 2 April 1998(98)Apparently Persian Knotted,open to the right(?)


A carpet in the MAK,Vienna,has all the characteristics of the Herat-Group,but is Turkish knotted on a cotton foundation.Edwards explains that the Persian and the Turkish knot are used equally in Mashhad-perhaps there are very old Khorasan carpets which are Turkish knotted as well.


There are not so many pure palmette-form carpets in North-West Persia;the design seems to have mutated quickly into the Harshang.A small group from the "Golden triangle" underline this.


Plus a fragment in Munich.

309-Völkerkunde Museum Munich

A fascinating patchwork with a rare combination of Palmette and Tree design resides in the Dixon collection.


The impressive Lichnowski carpet reinstates the stiff palmettes in an obsessive way.The carpet,reduced by a half,is in the MAK in Vienna.


A fragment recalls its Khorasan origins in the border,but the Harshang field is now main-stream Caucasus.


A carpet fragment discovered at Chaalis by Christina Klose is matched by an example in the Dixon Collection.Here the palmettes have  sickle leaves mounted on them like horned helmets;eight pointed stars are arraigned along the spine and Karagashli Göls dot the field.


In the Caucasus,the Angular Palmette becomes the main filler on many different types of rugs,united by their descendence from the Red Ground Floral layout.A refined group of Caucasian carpets,christened the "Vine-Leaf" group by C.G Ellis, employs them in a radically angularised environment.



Much rougher in execution are a group of large Kelleh,mostly found in Anatolian Mosques,with a simple version of the Holbein Göl.These were copied in the 19th century by simply reducing the spinal field,as in a carpet once with Battilossi.


Then follows a rapid process of decline,although the first or second carpet may have been copied in the Balkans.


An immaculate pair of carpets bears an allover stiff palmette design.The first was published in the 1920`s by Jacoby,and later in a decimated version by Serare Yetkin.Grote-Hasenbalg published a colour foto of one corner,and another fragment surfaced in an American collection.The second is the Pohlmann carpet,auctioned successfully a number of times.Both have the simplified strapwork border originating from the Bacri carpets.




Another 18th century example has abandoned the complex design for a simple repeat pattern.

321-Sothebys 2004

A magnetic remnant was uncovered in Sivas,and published by Serare Yetkin in her standard work.

322-Yetkin 61

Yet another carpet in Istanbul was also published by Yetkin,although she had nothing to say about it.It has a very capable and quite Anatolian style border,unmatched by its crude field design.


A seminal carpet is the yellow ground piece once in the McMullan Collection,now lost at the MET,which seems to be pulling in all directions simultaneously:the Palmette,the Harshang,the Bacri border...


Carpets with standard palmette designs abound in the Caucasus,and the Nigde carpet is an example invoking its Khorasan predecessors in a resplendent way.


Prince Sanguszko once owned an earlier Persian variant of the Nigde carpet-here the two for comparison.


A piece in the TIEM,Istanbul has quite East Asian Lotus Palmettes,and a Turkmen feel to the layout.


Simple repeat designs based on the RGF design occur also in degenerate 18th century examples.



An iconic group of "tree" carpets feature large palmettes in a heraldic way.The tendency is always to animalise vegetal forms.Carpets of this type were frequently copied in Eastern Europe.


Two massively drawn carpets, in Persian and Caucasian style ,continue the heraldic modus.


Two fully loaded items clear the way into the 19th century,the borders reminiscent of certain Star Kazaks.


An exceptional group of eight carpets and fragments continue the animalised palmette style.





A group of three pieces transitions from the 18th to the 19th centuries.The palmette designs re-appear later in Avar rugs.


Exquisite smaller items were also produced at this time.


The Lenkoran style is also an example of addorsed palmettes in an emblazoned,heraldic style.


Two later pieces in the "Chelaberd" mode represent an ultimate reduction in which the individual design elements seem to float in space.


Cloudbands also feature in a few Caucasian examples.The first item is clearly derived from the Bardini Medallion carpet.


One of Herr Kirchheim`s finest moments was certainly this Cloudband-Harshang-Angular Palmette rug,which exudes greatness.


A medallion carpet once at Sothebys appears to be the progenitor of all Chondzoresk carpets.


The sidewinders in the Rossi carpet have been straightened and tamed.No longer dangerous but decorative,it fetched $70,535 at Sothebys in 1999.


All of the classic Caucasian carpet types feature palmettes in some way. Primarily the Transitional "sunburst" category springs to mind.


A second group influenced by the Vase Carpets of Iran always displays palmettes,Lotus and angular palmettes.


In the strange Davis carpet the palmettes have mutated and resemble those found on Ersari carpets of the "Richardson" type.


At Bonhams in 2008,the following featured an offset central medallion wrought out of split palmettes,in the Polonaise manner;and our old friends the horned palmettes make a return.


A carpet from Alberto Boralevi employs an RGF Saz border and a system of ascending palmettes.


On view at the ICOC in Milan,the following seems in the throes of dissolution,yet the Harshang format is clear and the figures keenly observed.


A  fragment in Austria combines palmettes and large black bugs not unlike the whiteground Selendi carpets,and achieves monumentality in a limited space through its sparse but forceful drawing.


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