Safavid Rugs

Examples of Safavid Rugs & Carpets


A Safavid tinned-copper basin

A Safavid tinned-copper basin

Persia, dated A.H.1012/1603-4 A.D. 31cm. diameter

Of deep rounded form narrowing at the shoulder to a raised everted rim, the incised decoration heightened with black, the design comprising a broad band of a star-and-cross pattern formed of interlacing bands enclosing formal arabesques, the neck with cartouches of nasta’liq separated by plain lobed medallions, further bands of repeating stylised floral motifs on a hatched ground.

Inscriptions: Verses in Persian

The owner: ‘Its owner Haji Muhammad Haydar, the year (A.H)1012’/(1603-4)’

Later owner: ‘Its owner Khwaja Muhammad’

A Safavid Blue and White Bottle 17th C

A Safavid Blue and White Bottle 17th C

52.8cm. Bulbous body on a broad slightly splayed foot, tapering to a tall narrow neck, decorated in underglaze blue with chinoiserie floral motifs and a scene of two jackals facing one another within reed-like branches.

The large and impressive vase is reminiscent of a form of pottery depicted in miniature painting of the period. The decoration follows a largely Chinese inspiration, but the artist has added a patently Islamic element in what seems to be a scene from the Bidpai fable Kalila wa Dimna. One of the two jackals has his mouth open and appears to be talking to the other animal. The depiction and the reed-like branches seem to derive their form from illustrations. They are very similar to the foliage depicted in Arabic illustrated manuscripts, including copies of Kalila wa Dimna. Hence it would suggest that the decorator of this vase found his inspiration in an Arabic, rather than a Persian, illustration.

A Safavid carpet border fragment

A Safavid carpet border fragment

Isphahan, Central Persia, second half 16th century. Silk foundation, oxidized charcoals, moth damage, scattered spot stains, mounted.

Approximately 4ft. 1in. by 1ft. 3in. (1.24 by 0.38m.)

Warp: silk, Z2S, light yellow

Weft: silk, Z2S, ivory, 3 shoots

Pile: wool, asymmetric knot open to the left

Density: 17-19 horizontal; 17-19 vertical

Sides: not extant

Ends: not extant

Colors: ivory, charcoal, rose red, pale rose, burgundy, apricot, ginger, yellow, emerald green, lime green, pale blue, sky blue, dark blue.

This border fragment is from a Safavid animal combat, palmette, and cloudband carpet. The structure, coloring, and drawing all indicate that this was of the highest quality, undoubtedly the product of a court workshop.

Safavid Green-Glazed Bottle w/Prince

Safavid Green-Glazed Bottle w/Prince

A Safavid green-glazed molded pottery bottle. Persia, possibly Isfahan, 17th century. The two flat sides shaped and linked by lobed bands leading to neck, the molded decoration of outdoor genre scenes, one side with a seated nobleman watching a young maiden dancing, the other with a single figure playing the tambourin, the lobed bands with repeated abstract foliate motifs. 23 cm.

A Safavid Green-Glazed Molded Pottery Bottle

A Safavid Green-Glazed Molded Pottery Bottle

Persia, possibly Isfahan, 17th century. The two flat sides shaped and linked by lobed bands leading to neck, the molded decoration of a lion attacking a deer among foliage, the other side with a fantastic creature among dense foliage. 20.5 cm. This molded pottery bottle belongs to a group recorded as dating from the early 17th century.

‘Polonaise’ Rug fragment
'Polonaise' Rug fragment
Several Europeans who visited Esfahan during the 17th century commented on the richness of the silk textiles woven in the workshops of the city, and many of these carpets ended up in the courts of Europe as a result of diplomatic gifts and special commissions. The group is thought to have become known as ‘Polonaise’ after a group of eight carpets.

A Fine and Rare Safavid Lampas Fragment 16th century
A Fine and Rare Safavid Lampas Fragment 16th century
56.2 by 53cm. max. Woven with cream, blue, green, pink, and brown silk threads on a metal thread ground, with a repeat pattern of a youth and attendant surrounded by a blossoming tree and composite palmettes and saz leaves.

Safavid Carpet Fragment by Sadeq Dated 1717-18 AD

Safavid Carpet Fragment by Sadeq Dated 1717-18 AD

Extensive inscription above including a repeat of the signature and date. Evenly worn, damages in ivory panel. 4ft. x 12ft.8in. (122cm. x 387cm.)

The upper border has a full inscription. Two long cartouches give the name of the patron. All that can be read is “Dastur (or sarkar) Amir Husayn b. Amir.” Two small further inscriptions also however give the year of manufacture, AH 1130/1717-18 AD and the name of the weaver, given simply as Sadeq.

This fragment is a very rare survival from this late Safavid period. It is hugely important in that it is signed and dated, in a period when no silk carpet of this size is known, let alone one including the documentary information found here. From the proportions of the spandrels it is certain that this carpet originally had a medallion, although its precise form is a matter for conjecture.

Knotted in silk pile, on thick five-ply cotton warps, it has three weft shoots between each row of knots. The main one separates the warps into two levels and is made of 5-strand unplied cotton. The undulating secondary wefts are of ivory and pale rose silk. This would normally be indicative of a Kirman origin. Another unusual technical feature in a silk carpet is the extensive use of jufti knotting. On the right hand side of the carpet this is only used occasionally, and appears to have some link with the design. The left-hand side is however strewn with it. Its extensive employment here might lead to the suggestion of a Khorassani origin, but there is no tradition or reporting of Khorasani silk carpet weaving during the Safavid period. The influence of Kirman, as noted above, is also seen in the structure, but the design owes nothing at all to “vase carpet” design. It is most probable, due to the close similarities in coloring and design, and the comparable structure, despite its inversion of the normal wefting, that it is a product of the capital, Isfahan. Whatever its origin, the size and materials of the present carpet demonstrate that, right at the end of the Safavid period, carpets were still being made on a very grand scale. This would certainly be consistent with the evidence from other spheres of artistic interest. The Madar-i Shah complex, one of the largest and most impressive architectural projects in the city of Isfahan, built by Shah Sultan Husayn to honor his mother, was completed in 1714, four years before the carpet. Its extensive tilework follows a very similar color scheme to that of the carpet.

Safavid Silk and Metal Boucle Velvet Panel

Safavid Silk and Metal Boucle Velvet Panel

The textile is approximately 74 by 107cm. at widest point, overall dimensions including mount approximately 81 by 113cm.

Mounted on silk, stretcher support.

Pile: supplementary warp silk cut loop velvet, ivory, beige, light silver grey, pale salmon, pale rose pink, coral, pale yellow, golden yellow, grass green, mauve, crimson, sky blue, midnight blue, dark walnut (mainly oxidized), 14 colors

Warps: pale coral silk, Z-spun, 5 warps between pile loops, each group of warps over two groups of wefts

Wefts: three shoots, one warp pale yellow silk, unspun, flanked by coral silk, Z-spun

Supplementary wefts: pale gold, rose or coral silk, S-plied with flat silver gilt metal strip; one pair supplementary wefts between each supplementary cut velvet weft, twill bound facing every 12th warp

Bouclé: ivory silk, S-plied, wrapped flat silk metal strip

Selvedges: mainly extant, approximately 11mm. wide apple green silk twill

The figures woven horizontally