Analysis of a 17th Century Antique Silk Polonaise Persian Rug
17th Century Silk Polonaise Rug – “Rugs rich with silk and gold” were reworked upon by western 17th Century visitors to the Esfahan bazaar, and this piece is exactly what they marveled at. The name “polonaise” (polish) is a misnomer, a 19th century mistaken attribution based on a number appearing from Polish noble collections.
They were first woven in the late 16th century by the order of Shah Abbas as gifts to visiting diplomats and their European rulers. By the early 17th century they had become popular, luxury export items to Europe, the knotted pile in silk and the metal strips on a matching silk core. The brocading is an over and under affair on this persian rug, giving, when new, a shiny, coruscating effect. The pile stands upon relief and carries the pattern while the metal thread makes a ground on this antique rug.
The gold ground sets off the lancet leaves, palmettes and salient arabesques. The border is ensuite with more colorful palmetts and forked arabesque leaves. There is a small central device to focus the active, monumental patterns.
The knotting in this type caries from 200 to nearly 1000 KPSI – knots per square inch. Presumably the finest were royal commissions. Sizes run up to 16’ but a 5’x7’ format, as here, was the most popular.
The Esfahan origin of these rugs is absolutely assured: a royal workshop (Karkhana) near the Chihil Sutun Palace wove those destined for diplomatic gifts. Private shops around Esfahan maidan (square) were responsible for the others.
The style in Baroque: strong, almost flashy and emotional. They appear in painting of the period, draped over tables, but no painter could capture the effect of a new Polonaise. Our rug is in very good condition for it age, unrestored brocading, and intact ends and sides. It is just waiting for the right lavish interior. Maybe yours?