Exhibitions/ Art Object

"Chessboard" Carpet

Object Name:
late 16th–early 17th century
probably Syria
Animal hair (warp and pile), wool (weft); asymmetrically knotted pile
Rug: H. 73 1/2 in. (186.7 cm) W. 51 in. (129.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Joseph V. McMullan, 1969
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 458
The field of the so-called "Chessboard" carpet is usually applied on a vermilion ground and divided into rectangular compartments, each containing an eight-pointed star composed of an endless knot of interlaced bands. The stars are encircled by small abstract radiating trefoil ornaments resembling fleur-de-lys, cypresses, and rosettes. On the large border that frames the central compartments of this design, poly-lobed lozengelike medallions alternate with cartouches. Stylized fleur-de-lys fill these motifs as well as the blue-green background.  

Few examples of "Chessboard" carpets have survived, and they rarely appear in Western paintings. This is probably because only small quantities were woven for export to the West. They can be found in depictions from the last quarter of the sixteenth and throughout the seventeenth century, a period when the production of this type of rug was probably at its peak.
Joseph V. McMullan, New York (by 1960–69; gifted to MMA)
"The Joseph V. McMullan Collection." In Islamic Carpets. New York, 1970. no. 24.

McMullan, Joseph V., and Ernst J. Grube. Islamic Carpets. New York: Near Eastern Art Research Center, 1965. no. 3, pp. 26-27, ill. pl. 3 (color).

Dimand, Maurice S., and Jean Mailey. Oriental Rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1973. no. 96, pp. 183, 229, ill. fig. 157 (b/w).

Related Objects

The Anhalt Medallion Carpet

Date: probably first half 16th century Medium: Cotton (warp), silk (weft), wool (pile); asymmetrically knotted pile Accession: 46.128 On view in:Gallery 462

Carpet with Palm Trees, Ibexes, and Birds

Date: late 16th–early 17th century Medium: Cotton (warp and weft), wool (pile); asymmetrically knotted pile Accession: 17.190.858 On view in:Gallery 463

Silk Kashan Carpet

Date: 16th century Medium: Silk (warp, weft and pile); asymmetrically knotted pile Accession: 58.46 On view in:Gallery 455

Mamluk Carpet

Date: early 16th century Medium: Wool, (warp, weft and pile); asymmetrically knotted pile Accession: 22.100.52 On view in:Gallery 454

"Bellini" carpet

Date: 16th–17th century Medium: Wool (warp, weft, and pile); symmetrically knotted pile Accession: 22.100.114 On view in:Not on view