Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Salor Main Carpet

Object Name:
late 18th–early 19th century
Attributed to Sothern Turkmenistan, Central Asia
Wool, silk
Rug: H. 127 1/4 in. (323.2 cm) W. 97 3/4 in. (248.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Joseph V. McMullan, 1973
Accession Number:
Not on view
The largest carpets created by Turkmen nomadic weavers, known as "main" carpets, were used on the floors of Turkmen tent dwellings. They usually employed a series of small repeating medallions, known as gul, that varied in form according to the tribe of the weaver. Rare and of unusual beauty, and often incorporating a small amount of magenta silk pile in their designs, Salor main carpets such as this appear to be the archetypes from which other Turkmen tribes derived their own characteristic main carpets.

This, one of the most resplendent of all Turkmans, presents a type which was first brought to the attention of the writer through Grote-Hasenbalg who illustrates a rug, practically a duplicate of this one, calling it an Afghan (W. Grote-Hasenbalg, Der Orientteppich, seine Geschichte und seine Kultur, 3 vols., Berlin, 1922, pl.46). In the description of the type he says: ‘In the glow of the colours and sheen of the wool they surpass the finest Persian velvet’.

Only two pattern elements are used in the field, an indented octagon, which includes an eight-pointed star, surrounded by trefoil shrubs springing from the points of the star. Simple flowered octagons form the secondary repeat. The very narrow border is filled with a chain of small stepped medallions.

It was probably the trefoil motif, very common in Afghan rugs, and the unusual size of this piece, that persuaded Grote-Hasenbalg to attribute it to the Afghan group. But no Afghan rug has ever matched the brilliance in colour and smoothness of surface of this piece.

[Arts Council 1972]
Joseph V. McMullan, New York (by 1965–d. 1973; bequeathed 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. 124, p. 56, ill. pl. XLV (color).

McMullan, Joseph V., and Ernst J. Grube. Islamic Carpets. New York: Near Eastern Art Research Center, 1965. no. 124, pp. 356-357, ill. pl. 123 (color).

Ekhtiar, Maryam, and Claire Moore, ed. "A Resource for Educators." In Art of the Islamic World. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. p. 203, ill. fig. 46 (color).

Denny, Walter B. How to Read Islamic Carpets. New Haven and London: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014. p. 32, ill. fig. 22 (color).

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