Dragon Carpet, Wool, cotton; plain weave with supplementary-weft embroidery (Soumak)

Dragon Carpet

Object Name:
late 18th–early 19th century
Attributed to present-day Azerbaijan, Karabakh
Wool, cotton; plain weave with supplementary-weft embroidery (Soumak)
Rug: H. 90 in. (228.6 cm)
W. 70 3/4 in. (179.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Joseph V. McMullan, 1971
Accession Number:
Not on view
This embroidered rug features a design with repeating s-like motifs. They are arranged in four rows with a black one altenating with a white. The motif recalls a highly stylized dragon. This repeating pattern of stylized dragons gave the name "Dragon Carpet" to this type of rug which was produced in Trans-Caucasia.

Even though different in general design, there can be no doubt that the pattern of this flat woven rug was derived directly from the tradition of the ‘dragon’ rugs of the 16th and 17th centuries (see no.39). In fact, the surface is almost entirely covered with continuous rows of highly stylized, enormous, dragon figures, alternating in colour. The patters on the bodies of these fantastic animals, although largely floral in nature, seem to indicate the presence of scales, which are particularly emphasized in the two white dragon-figures in the first row. Groups of other animals, probably stags on a minute scale, are scattered all through the field. A curious feature is the presence of three small human figures.

[Arts Council 1972]
Joseph V. McMullan, New York (by 1960–71; gifted to MMA)
"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. 40, p. 43, ill. pl. XVIII.

McMullan, Joseph V., and Ernst J. Grube. Islamic Carpets. New York: Near Eastern Art Research Center, 1965. no. 40, pp. 162-163, ill. pl. 40 (color).

Taghiyeva, Roya. Azerbaijani Carpet Encyclopedia. Baku, Sharg-Garb, 2017. pp. 23, 98–99, ill. p. 23 (color).