Carpet with a Compartment Design

Object Name: Carpet

Date: first half 16th century

Geography: Made in Iran

Medium: Silk (warp and weft), wool (pile); asymmetrically knotted pile

Dimensions: Rug: H. 196 in. (497.8 cm)
W. 134 in. (340.4 cm)
Tube: H. 146 in. (370.8 cm)

Weight: 79 lbs. (198 lbs. rolled on tube. tube is 119 lbs. empty)
Diam. 20 in. (50.8 cm)

Classification: Textiles-Rugs

Credit Line: Frederick C. Hewitt Fund, 1910

Accession Number: 10.61.3


This magnificent jewel-colored carpet, with its elegant, curvilinear "compartments" based on a geometric star pattern, is filled with creatures borrowed from Chinese art, such as the dragon and phoenix in combat. The benevolent phoenix has its counterpart in Persian lore, where it is known as the simurgh, also a wise and protective bird. Other compartments contain decorative arrangements of Chinese ch'i-lin and flying geese, as well as the purely Islamic arabesque. The border with its medallions and cartouches reflects those of Safavid bookbindings, which also make great use of ribbonlike Chinese cloud bands, by now thoroughly assimilated into Persian art. With its fine weave (550 knots per square inch), silk foundation, and the close relationship between its elaborate pattern elements and the art of the book, it seems likely that this carpet was designed in the book atelier working in the service of the shah.
This carpet has been reduced in length. A complete carpet woven from the same cartoon belongs to the Musée Historique des Tissus in Lyon, France.