Tuesday 29 August 2017

A Caucasian Carpet ?


A fragment which recently appeared in an obscure internet auction(001) was once part of  a larger patchwork ensemble sold at Sothebys,New York,in 1985(002)for $880.It belonged to the lower border area,which has actually been re-attached.The fragments were subsequently divided and dispersed;the top right hand section appeared in the Canadian Collections II Catalogue,as the property of Ross Winter(003).It was later advertised by Michael Craycraft.The lower right section was re-offered at Sothebys in 1995 at an estimate of $3-5000,fate unknown(004).A third portion,comprising the lower left field and border,was published in the 1999 ICOC Milan catalogue,Sovrani Tappeti(005).The upper left field is said to be in a Californian collection.The Italian example is of particular interest as it offers a technical analysis,which more or less corresponds to the border fragment(001),to whit:a bulky,short-fibre carded cotton warp ZS6(the border has ZS5),uncommon in older Persian carpets,which are invariably 4-ply,although cotton warp can be found in later Caucasian carpets with either Avshan or Harshang designs;a red weft varying from 2-5 shoots, and most importantly a Persian knot open to the right.This is unusual even in NW Persian weavings,and may indicate the participation of Turkmen weavers.





006-front and back,scans

The Trefoil border is not the usual type seen on Caucasian classical carpets,but may be presumed to derive from a spectacular Khorasan carpet,which also features the standard Trefoil border pattern(007 & 008)



A related carpet was auctioned at Bonhams in 2002(Sale price $ 75,040),and later surfaced with the Textile Gallery,London(see Hali 128,and the Hali Fair catalogue of 2003)By repute it hung in a Scottish hunting lodge for more than a century.It is narrower than the Sothebys carpet,lacking the inner guard stripe,but border and field design are very similar.Its structure is given as “wool pile on a wool foundation”.As there is no indication of Persian knotting,a Turkish knot with a woolen warp must be presumed and the carpet assigned to the classic Caucasian tradition.It seems altogether more lively with its lotus whirligigs (derived from the vase carpet repertoire) and fluid drawing.(009,010,011)




As indicated in the Textile gallery`s notes,the pattern is an adaptation of a Khorasan carpet,now in Berlin(012)The group has been discussed HERE.With their monumental draughtmanship they seem more like Durbar carpets,although an Indian origin can be ruled out.Reversing the telescope,their design origin can be found in Kirman,where large-scale Sickle Leaf carpets were a speciality,but this tradition does not run over 17th century Isfahan;thus we are missing a century of development(013)



Other 18th century carpets with a Sickle-leaf and Palmette arrangement as in the two pieces under discussion, did not fare so well.A Khorasan example from the Tom`s Collection(014,left),and a carpet with Voytech Blau(014,right) both imitate the central spinal design,but with the large leaves in a horizontal position.They seem quite negligent in their execution and choice of colour.


A last carpet,mentioned in the Textile Gallery`s description,features the same rare Trefoil border and was at the de Puy Sale held by the Andersen Galleries in 1925(015).Four classic Turkmen göls underline the possible involvement of Turkmen weavers in this enterprise.The carpet surfaced once more,in ghostly condition,at Sothebys in 2001.


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