Polonaise Carpet

Object Name: Carpet

Date: 17th century

Geography: Made in Iran, Isfahan or Kashan

Medium: Cotton (warp and weft), silk (weft and pile), metal wrapped thread; asymmetrically knotted pile, brocaded

Dimensions: Rug: H. 160 in. (406.4 cm)
W. 69 5/8 in. (176.8 cm)

Classification: Textiles-Rugs

Credit Line: Gift of John D. Rockefeller Jr., 1950

Accession Number: 50.190.1


This carpet, one of a matching pair, belongs to a type known as "Polonaise," noted for its silk pile, pastel color palette, and extensive use of gold- and silver-metal-wrapped thread. The designation "Polonaise" reflects the (incorrect) nineteenth-century belief that carpets of this type were from Poland, a notion derived from the presence of similar carpets bearing European coats of arms. In fact, these carpets were made in Iran and shipped abroad in large numbers. Many were also brought to Europe by Persian embassies as gifts from the shahs, and some were commissioned in Iran by visiting Europeans. Though Polonaise carpets are relatively common, the design of overlapping cartouches seen here is rare.