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Art/ Collection/ Art Object


16th century
Attributed to Iran
Silk (warp and weft), wool (pile), metal wrapped thread; asymmetricaly knotted thread, brocaded
Rug: L. 63 1/2 in. (161.3 cm) W. 43 1/4 in. (109.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Mr. and Mrs. Isaac D. Fletcher Collection, Bequest of Isaac D. Fletcher, 1917
Accession Number:
Not on view
This prayer rug or sajjadah, identified by its central niche design, the Qur’anic inscriptions in its border, and the names of God in its spandrels, is consistent with a group of carpets thought to have been a diplomatic gift from the Safavid Shah ‘Abbas I to the Ottoman sultan Murad III (r. 1574-95). Because some of the verses promote a Shiite perspective by referring to the intercession of Shiite imams with God, the group was apparently never used by the Sunni Ottomans.

This carpet feature warps in two colors-one of a natural, undyed fiber and the other of a rarely seen intense red-that are arranged in an irregular pattern. Microscopic investigation has revealed remnants of the original selvage, or the woven edge, which is similar to some of those found on the masterpiece Safavid Carpets from the early sixteenth century.
Inscription: Definition: Qur'anic
Location: Outer guard band:Qur'an, ch. II, vv. 285, 286 Main border: ch. II, v. 256; Inner guard band, ch.VII, vv.203-5; Border of niche: ch. XIII, vv. 16, 17, ch. LVII, v. 3, ch. LIX, vv. 23, 24; In compartments of spandrels, titles of Allah; In cartouche in niche: Allah is the greaatest, the great.
Translation: Inscriptions: (N. Martinovitch, see notes) Outer guard band: Koran, ch. II, vv. 285, 286 Main border: Koran, ch. II, v. 256 Inner guard band: ch. VII, vv. 203-205 Border of niche: ch. XIII, vv. 16, 17, ch. LVII, v. 3, ch. LIX, vv. 23, 24. In compartments of spandrels, titles of Allah. In cartouche in niche: Allah is the greatest, the great. Extracts from Koran 1 a: The prophet believeth in what is sent down unto him, as well as the faithful believe. They all believe in God, in His angels, in His books and in all his prophets; declaring, we make no distinction between any of his prophets. And they say; we have heard and obeyed; we seek thy forgiveness, our Lord! And to Thee, all things shall return. God imposes no task upon any soul but according to its capacity. Extracts from Koran 1 B: It will enjoy the fruit of the good it has done and will bear penalty for evil it has committed. Our Lord! Take us not to task if we forget or commit fault without intention. Our Lord! Place no heavy burden upon us as thou hast put upon those who were before us. Koran II, vv. 285,286 (Ali) Extracts from Koran 2: He is God. There is no God besides Him, the living, the sustaining. No sleep overtakes him, nor does slumber. Unto Him belongeth what is in the heavens and earth. Who can intercede with Him without His permission? He knows whatever lies before them and whatever lies behind them. They cannot compass anything of His knowledge, excepting that which He wisheth. His throne contains the heavens and the earth. He does not grow fatigued in watching over them and He is knowing and wise. Koran II, v. 255 (Ali) Extracts from Koran 3: And if the Koran is read you must listen because it is the word of the Creator. Call upon your God and He will have mercy on you. He will deliver you from your enemies. Do not be like those who sleep, for religion is the principal thing to God, and those who do not kneel and pray will be punished by Him. Koran VII, vv. 204-6. Extracts from Koran 4. He is God, He besides Whom there is no other God. He is the King, the holy, the peace-bestower, the faithful, the glorious, the honorable, the Almighty, the lord of pride. Exalted is God, the Creator, the giver of life, the framer of form. Unto Him belong the most beautiful names. He is the first and the last; the manifest and the hidden; and He knows everything. Koran LIX, vv. 23,24 Extracts from Koran 4b: He is the truth, the clear, the luminous, the praise-worthy, the living, the kingly, the patient, the noble, the chosen, the bestower of bounties and lights of excellence. He is the lord of mercy, lord of power, lord of destiny, lord of compassion. He is the forgiver of sins, bestower of kindness, producer of prosperity and possessor of grandeur and magnificence. Extracts from Koran 5: And unto God pay homage, all that are in the heavens and on earth, willingly and unwillingly, and also do their shadwos, in forenoons and afternoons. Say - "who is the lord of heaven and earth? Say - "God" Say "Have ye then chosen besides Him, as lords, those who possess no power, either to benefit themselves or to guard themselves against harm?"Extract from Koran 6:God is Great.
Notes: The verses given by Martinovitch do not correspond exactly with the translation and arrangement of the Qur'an by Maulvi Muhammad Ali. He may have used some other translation. According to Ali the main border is ch. II, v. 255, the inner guard band ch. VII, vv. 204-206. According to trannnsslation in the files (source unknown), the verses of ch. XIII on the border of the niche are 15-17 instead of 16 and 17. (HMcA 18 Ju 36)

Marking: See link panel.
Mr. and Mrs. Isaac D. Fletcher, New York (until his d.1917; bequeathed to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Calligraphy West of China," March 15, 1972–May 7, 1972, no catalogue.

Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Mohammedan Decorative Arts. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1930. p. 240, ill. fig. 147 (b/w).

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. ill. v. VI, pl. 1167.

Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Muhammadan Art. 2nd rev. and enl. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1944. p. 288, ill. fig. 190 (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. 48, pp. 89, 113, ill. fig. 121 (b/w).

Berinstain, Valerie. Great Carpets of the World. New York: Vendome Press, 1996. p. 178, ill. pl. 153 (color).

Denny, Walter B. "Textiles and Carpets in the Metropolitan Museum's New ALTICALSA Galleries." Arts of Asia 2012 (2012). p. 102, ill. fig. 2 (color).

Denny, Walter B. How to Read Islamic Carpets. New Haven and London: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014. pp. 84-85, ill. figs. 71-72.

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