Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Vase Carpet

Object Name:
17th century
Made in Iran, probably Kirman
Cotton (warp), silk (weft), wool (weft and pile); asymmetrically knotted pile
Rug: H. 81 3/4 in. (207.6 cm)
W. 57 3/4 in. (146.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Joseph V. McMullan, 1970
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 462
This carpet overflows with naturalistically rendered flowers and plants, organized around one central medallion and four quarter- medallions in each corner. A similar medallion design can be seen on many decorative leather book covers from the same period, and it is likely that the manuscript design was incorporated into the visual repertoire of Safavid weavers. Artists working in the court atelier produced drawings and designs for artisans working in a variety of different media. The designs and trends generated by the court were then adopted by commercial workshops that created high-quality carpets like this one.

Variants of the vase pattern occasionally occur, here with the introduction of a dominant new note in composition, the stellate central medallion, enclosing arabesque sprays and buds with corner pieces to correspond. The border design is derived from no.16 in this volume, though it is simpler in outline. This rug was included in the Chicago Exhibition of 1926 (no.19) and was described by A.U. Pope. Our description again largely follows Dr Pope’s text.

In the field a rich assortment of decorative but naturalistic flowers, campanula, narcissus poeticus, iris, willow shrub, rose, calendula, carnation, aster, lily and fruit blossoms, is arranged around a small but vigorous central eight-pointed star medallion ornamented with energetic interlacing arabesques and numerous small tchi forms, characteristic of this type. In the corners are quadrants of the same medallion.

Dr. Pope concludes his discussion of the rug as follows: "Although the vases and huge palmettes are missing, this carpet is a worthy member of the great group of vase carpets. The flower patterns are identical with the flowers of many of the larger pieces as well as of well known fragments, and the scattered tchi forms are a characteristic mark of these weavings. To have attempted in such small compass the huge flower forms would have betrayed a lack of taste and understanding. But for all its small dimensions, and it is the only small rug of the kind known, it has maintained the virility and clarity of the best of the type and to this have been added a freshness and charm of colour that brings a joyous quality into the style somewhat lacking in the solemn early carpets and most appropriate to the smaller and more intimate size.’ (Chicago Exhibition, p.63)

[Arts Council 1972]
[ Dikran G. Kelekian, New York, by 1926– at least 1938]; Joseph V. McMullan, New York (by 1965–70; gifted to MMA)
The Art Club of Chicago. "Loan Exhibition of Early Oriental Carpets," 1926, no. 19.

Mexico City. Colegio de San Ildefonso. "Arte islamico del Museo Metropolitano de Arte de Nueva York," September 30, 1994–January 8, 1995, no. 121.

Pope, Arthur Upham. "The Art Club of Chicago." In Catalogue of a Loan Exhibition of Early Oriental Carpets.. 1926. no. 19, p. 63, ill.

Pope, Arthur Upham. An Introduction to Persian Art Since the Seventh Century A.D.. London: Peeter Davies, Ltd. by the Shenval Press, 1930. pp. 138-139, ill. fig. 66 (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. v. III, pp. 2382-2383, fig. 953, ill. v. VI, pl. 1230.

"Catalogue of an exhibition held at the] Hayward Gallery, London, 19 October–10 December 1972." In Islamic Carpets from the Joseph V. McMullan Collection. London: Arts Council of Great Britain, 1972. no. 17, p. 38, ill. pl. III (color).

McMullan, Joseph V., and Ernst J. Grube. Islamic Carpets. New York: Near Eastern Art Research Center, 1965. no. 17, pp. 84-85, ill. pl. 17 (color).

Dimand, Maurice S., and Jean Mailey. Oriental Rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1973. pp. 82-83, ill. fig. 112 (b/w).

Swietochowski, Marie, and Marilyn Jenkins-Madina. Notable Acquisitions 1965–1975 (1975). p. 137, ill. (b/w).

Ellis, Charles. Oriental Carpets in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1988. pp. 203-204.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Daniel S. Walker, Arturo Ponce Guadián, Sussan Babaie, Stefano Carboni, Aimee Froom, Marie Lukens Swietochowski, Tomoko Masuya, Annie Christine Daskalakis-Matthews, Abdallah Kahil, and Rochelle Kessler. "Colegio de San Ildefonso, Septiembre de 1994-Enero de 1995." In Arte Islámico del Museo Metropolitano de Arte de Nueva York. Mexico City: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 1994. no. 121, pp. 286-287, ill. p. 287 (b/w).

Denny, Walter B. How to Read Islamic Carpets. New Haven and London: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014. p. 26, ill. fig. 18 (color).

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