Oriental Rugs, Vintage Rugs, and Antique Rugs by Peter Pap

Indian rug

17th C (2nd half)

India has a diverse history of carpet weaving which cannot be summarized briefly. Until recently, art historical research about Indian carpets and weaving centers has focused mainly on Mughal production in the north. These northern Indian carpets were often the work of court ateliers and reflected the Mughal dynastic style of the 16th, 17th, and early 18th centuries. Early Mughal period carpets are often seen as some of the most elegant and refined pieces ever woven. However, they were not the only carpets produced in the expansive territory of India. In particular, carpets woven in several centers throughout the vast Deccan peninsula served as important luxury trade objects and were exported across Asia and Europe. Several motifs associated with 18th and 19th century carpets from the Tarim Basin, in what is now the Xinjiang province in western China, can in fact be traced back to Deccani prototypes, and many Deccani carpets from the 17th and 18th century have been recently found in fragmentary condition in Tibetan monasteries. The Dutch East-India Company traded Decanni carpets to Europe and Japan in the 18th century, and in Japan, some of these carpets are still used to decorate parade floats in several village festivals. It is important to remember that, while there are fewer surviving examples of Deccani carpets from the time period of 1650-1750, there were more weaving centers throughout the Deccan peninsula than existed in the north and arguably greater diversity of weave and design. Complicating matters further, along with their own design history, Deccani carpets of this period frequently reproduced a host of contemporary and earlier design traditions. Deccan copies exist of contemporaneous pieces from Mughal Lahore as well as Ottoman Anatolia. There are also known circa 1700 Deccani copies of 16th century Safavid Persian medallion carpets. Furthermore, identifying with accuracy earlier Deccani carpets than from this period is also difficult. Like many Indian carpets of the era, this splendid rug uses a vibrant red ground derived from local Indian lac dye. The coral-like vegetal structures, though reminiscent of similar devices drawn in contemporaneous Northeast Persian carpets, seem to be a one-off, or at least only known, variant. While the two pendants and their emanating foliage drawn at either end of the field recall similar devices seen in Mughal design, the relative freedom of drawing of this piece, along with some structural features of the weave may also allow for speculation about either a northern Indian or Deccani origin. The border renders stylized Persian type palmettes, linked by blossoming vine-scroll, across a distinctly Indian oxidized forest green ground. In keeping with both Persian and Indian design conceptions of the 17th century, the center of the field is demarcated by a small device, in this case a rosette, while larger devices fill each hemisphere; thus, the design creates a feeling of expanse by decentralizing the medallion form. This is the only intact carpet with this particular drawing that we have been able to identify, as the closest analogues survive only as fragments. Indisputably, this is an elegant and innovative Indian carpet of the 17th century. Where to attribute it more precisely within the Indian subcontinent, however, may be a matter of debate.

5' 8"
9' 0"

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