Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Emperor's Carpet

Object Name:
second half 16th century
Attributed to Iran
Silk (warp and weft), wool (pile); asymmetrically knotted pile
Rug: L. 299 in. (759.5 cm) W. 133 1/2 in. (339.1 cm) Wt. on a 10" tube: 144 lbs. (65.3 kg)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1943
Accession Number:
Not on view
One of the finest products of the Safavid court ateliers, this carpet once adorned the summer residence of the Habsburg emperors. The main field balances a sophisticated net of floral scrolls, large composite palmettes, cloud bands, buds, and blossoms with a myriad of real and fictional animals—dragons and Chinese antelope, lion and buffalo, tigers and leopards, ducks and pheasants. A verse found in the inner guard band likens a garden in springtime to the Garden of Paradise.
Inscription: Inscriptions in Persian in nasta‘liq script on inner, minor border
(verses by Zahir al-Din Faryabi [d. 1202])

بیا که عهد چمن تازه کرد باد بهار که باز گشت چمن را طراوت رخ یار 
Come, for the breeze of spring has renewed the promise of the meadow,
for the freshness of the beloved’s cheek has returned to the meadow.

چمن هنوز لب از شیر ابر ناشسته چو شاهد آن خط سبزش دمید گرد عذار
No sooner had the meadow washed the milk of the cloud from its lips
than those green whiskers sprouted around its countenance
as on the lip of an adolescent.

مخدّرات چمن جلوه م کینند امروز عروسیست نبات بنات را پندار
The cloistered ladies of the meadow display themselves today.
You would think it was a wedding for their daughter-sprouts.

و گرنه بهر چه گردون شکوفه گل را سفیده بر زده گلگونه کرده بر رخسار
If not, why did the celestial sphere bring out dawn of the rose blossom with
rouge on its cheek?

همه جواهر لعلست غنچه را در تنگ همه بضاعت مشک است لاله را در بار
The rosebud holds ruby gems tightly in its embrace;
the tulip has merchandise of musk in store.

ولی ز تنگ دلی گل بخود فرو شده بود نمی گشود دهان و نمی نمود عذار
But the rose had closed itself over in distress and
would not open its mouth or show its face.

فراز تخت زمرد نشست از شبنم بتاج لعل درآویخت لؤلؤ شهوار
It sat atop an emerald throne of dew
and hung regal pearls on its ruby crown.

بیاض دیده نرگس نگرتعالی الله که   هست خیره ]ازو ؟[ دیده اولو الأبصار
Look at the whiteness of the narcissus’ eye. Goodness!
The eyes of those of insight are dazzled by it.

[ . . . ]
چمن ز غنچه نماید هزار خرگه سبز سفیده دم که زند ابر خیمه بر گلزار
The meadow displays a thousand green tents of rosebuds
at dawn, when the cloud pitches a tent over the rose garden.

شکوفه هر درمی را که داشت داد بباد سحاب هر گهری ]را[ که یافت کرد نثار
The blossom gave every dirham it had to the wind;
the cloud scattered every pearl it found.

مذاکران چمن چون مقدسان فلک فراز سدره اشجار بین که در اسحار
See the reciters of the meadow, like the holy ones of the celestial sphere
atop the Lote-Tree at dawn —

دعای شاه جهان م کینند و میگویند که   باد تا ابد از عز و جاه برخوردار
They pray for the king of the world and say,
“May he enjoy glory and high position forever!”
Czar Peter the Great, Russia (by tradition, until 1698); Austrian Imperial House, Vienna (1698–1921); Österreichisches Museum für Kunst und Industrie(1921–25; to Cardinal and Harford); [ Cardinal and Harford, London, 1925–28; sale, Christie, Manson & Wood, London, July 5, 1928, no. 146]; [ International Art Gallery, London, 1928, sold to Arthur U. Pope forRockefeller McCormick]; Edith Rockefeller McCormick, Chicago (1928–d. 1932; her estate until 1943;sold to Arthur U. Pope for MMA)
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. "Special Persian Exhibition," 1926.

London. Burlington House. "International Exhibition of Persian Art," January 7, 1931–February 28, 1931, no. 846.

The Iranian Institute. "Exhibition of Persian Art," 1940, Gal. I, no. 9.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Making the Invisible Visible," April 2, 2013–August 4, 2013, no catalogue.

Wilson, Arnold T. "7th January to 28th February, 1931." In Catalogue of the International Exhibition of Persian Art. 3rd. ed. London: Royal Academy of Arts, 1931. no. 846.

Harari, Ralph, and Richard Ettinghausen. A Survey of Persian Art from Prehistoric Times to the Present, edited by Arthur Upham Pope. Vol. I-VI. London and New York: Oxford University Press, 1938. vol. III, pp. 2361-3, ill. vol. VI, pl 1174.

Ackerman, Phyllis. "The Iranian Institute, New York." In Guide to the Exhibition of Persian Art. 2nd. ed. New York: The Iranian Institute, 1940. no. Gallery I, no. 9, pp. 10-11.

Dimand, Maurice S. "The seventeenth century Isfahan school of rug weaving." In Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, edited by Richard Ettinghausen. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972. p. 255, ill. fig. 1 (b/w).

Dimand, Maurice S., and Jean Mailey. Oriental Rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1973. no. 12, pp. 101, 140-141, ill. fig. 76, (b/w, color).

Ettinghausen, Richard. "Islamic Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 33, no. 1 (Spring 1975). ill. pp. 128-129 (col.

Welch, Stuart Cary. The Islamic World. vol. 11. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. pp. 98-100, ill. fig. 74 (color).

Ellis, Charles. Oriental Carpets in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1988. p. 171.

Ferrier, Ronald W., ed. The Arts of Persia. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989. p. 128, ill. # 20.

Yarshater, Ehsan, ed. Encyclopaedia Iranica vol. 5 (1992). p. 870, ill. (b/w).

Burn, Barbara, ed. Masterpieces of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York; Boston: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993. p. 86, ill. (color).

Berinstain, Valerie. Great Carpets of the World. New York: Vendome Press, 1996. p. 144, ill. pl. 115 (color).

Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 181, pp. 6,12,17, 172, 259-261, ill. p. 260 (color), fig. 18 (b/w).

Denny, Walter B. "Textiles and Carpets in the Metropolitan Museum's New ALTICALSA Galleries." Arts of Asia 2012 (2012). p. 105, ill. figs. 7, 8.

Denny, Walter B. How to Read Islamic Carpets. New Haven and London: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014. pp. 120-121, ill. figs. 104-105.

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