Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Wool, cotton; knotted
113cm x 57cm
In the Middle East, woven fabrics served not only as seating, storage bags, curtains, bed linen and covers for objects and animals, but also as decorative floor coverings. The literature, artifacts and European paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries all testify to the trade in carpets, which fostered the spread of designs and beliefs across cultures. The designs, colours and shapes of textiles bore an implicit message of protection. This carpet fragment, in which onager (wild ass), deer and lion motifs are placed around a cypress, is a variation on what is known as the Garden of Paradise design that was widely used in northern and northwestern Iran in the Safavid period (1501–1722/36). Abiding features in Iranian thinking for thousands of years, gardens and the search for paradise were prominent themes in poetry, literature and painting. Carpets were viewed as reflections of the heavenly garden and as the ideal means for artistic expression that were easy to carry during the seasonal moves between winter and summer quarters. The most magnificent Garden of Paradise-design carpets were reserved for the nobility, and few examples of them from the Safavid era have survived to this day. Fragments of carpets datable from the 16th to the 18th century have been sold since the mid-19th century in order to satisfy demand among Western collectors. A large fragment of this 17th-century carpet is in the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art (1953.128).
Stylistic and comparative analyses
Purchased from Adolph Loewi, New York, in 1954
Ittig, Annette, Rêves tissés: tapis d’orient de la collection du Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal / Woven Dreams: Oriental Carpets from the Collection of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1994: 18.
Salam-Liebich, Hayat, Art islamique: objets du quotidien / Islamic Art: Objects for Daily Use, Montreal: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1983: 65.
Shirin Shafiee "Carpet fragment" [db_in_citation_dca] 2019. http://carpets.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?itemId=object;DCA;ca;Mus31;9;en
Prepared by: Shirin Shafiee
Copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: CA1_009