Silk Animal Carpet

Object Name: Carpet

Date: second half 16th century

Geography: Made in Iran, probably Kashan

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

Dimensions: Rug: L. 94 7/8 in. (241 cm)
W. 70 1/16 in. (178 cm)
Mount: L. 103 1/4 in. (262.3 cm)
W. 78 in. (198.1 cm)
D. 3 in. (7.6 cm)
Wt. 206 lbs. (93.4 kg)

Classification: Textiles-Rugs

Credit Line: Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913

Accession Number: 14.40.721


This silk rug demonstrates the part played by the miniaturist in designing rug cartoons. Neither the symmetry usually associated with carpet designs nor the repeat patterns of textiles is evident here. Animals, including fantastic beasts of Chinese origin, arranged singly or in groups, are pictorially laid out in a landscape of flowering plants. As in most Persian carpets, the animals are engaged in combat—possibly evoking the underlying symbolism of a cosmological order dating back to pre-Islamic times as well as referring to the hunt, a symbol of royal power.