Study of an Exceptional Antique 17th Century Persian Esfahan Rug
Cloud-bands dominate the in and out palmette pattern of the classical long 17th Century Esfahan Persian rug in central Iran. The lac red field displays a wide variety of side viewed palmettes, rosettes, layers of arabesque, as well as complete and partial cloud-bands. This design repertoire appears on literally hundreds of these carpets but never the same twice except in rare, few carpet pairs.
The midnight blue border envelops lager palmettes and scrolling vines in an ensuite manner. This red-blue (or deep green) combination is an “Esfahan” feature. A very few of these carpets are blue with red borders. This is a large example, but carpets of similar weave and style can be as much as 50’ in length, implying establish professional workshops.
The foundation is all cotton with three wefts between rows and the pile is wool short clipped. Some examples have white cotton highlights and these are related carpets with silk wraps.
The type was popular and long lived from the end of the 16th century to well into the 18th. Our piece fits relatively early into the evolution with its well drawn, complex border and finely detailed field.
There is nothing formulaic about 44143 unlike the later 17th-early 18th century rugs.
The condition is quite good for so early a carpet, and there has been no painting or bad re-pilling, all too often visited on these estimable carpets.
The origin of this large group has always been a matter of debate. Esfahan has been the preferred source, but early travelers then did not not want their presence in the bazaar as they did of the silk and metal thread “polonaise” rug (see our 40757 for a fine example).
Agra, in northern India, has been proposed as an alternative, and the design continues right into and through the 19th century in Agra large carpets. Pending dye fests of the pie in a sufficient number of carpets, the matter remains open. An Esfahan attribution is usefully accepted at present.