National Museum of Ancient Art
Cotton and wool; knotted; knot, 2Z; asymmetric knot, open to the left
H: 195.5cm, W: 135cm; knot density c. 3,025/dm2
From the second half of the 16th century, textiles were among the most frequently traded and most profitable goods introduced into Portugal through the Carreira da India, the route that from 1498 directly connected Europe to Asia. Despite Indian cloth having first constituted the majority of imported textiles, Persian textiles also arrived in Portugal during the first half of the 16th century in smaller quantities. Among these, knotted-pile carpets were in high demand within the upper classes of cosmopolitan Portuguese society, as elements of luxury and status that since the mid-16th century successfully displaced previous Spanish and Turkish imports.
This small carpet, from the Santa Clara convent in Évora, embodies the Golden Age of importation, when the colourful and vivid Persian imaginary was proudly displayed in both sacred and profane European interiors. In its multicoloured decoration, we can see an elaborate ornamental network of “vine scrolls” interlaced with palmettes outlining the decorative geometry of the field. In addition, there are S-shaped cloud scrolls (tchi), rosettes and lotus flowers, arranged on a bright-red background, which contrasts with the dark-blue colour of the border, itself filled with palmettes and lotus flowers.
Jessica Hallet and Steven Cohen have attributed the carpet to Persia based on stylistic analysis as well as thematic and pictorial parallels with other carpets
Transferred from the Convent of Santa Clara, Évora, Portugal, to the National Museum of Ancient Art in 1903
Stylistic analysis and material dating
Hallett, Jessica and Pereira, Teresa Pacheco (eds), The Oriental Carpet in Portugal: Carpets and paintings, 15th‒18th centuries, Lisbon: MNAA, 2007.
Ana Kol "Carpet" [db_in_citation_dca] 2019. http://carpets.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?itemId=object;DCA;pt;Mus31_D;16;en
Prepared by: Ana Kol
Translation by: Lily Chadwick
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: PT1_016