National Museum of Ancient Art
First third of the 17th century
Linen and wool; embroidered; oblique or Slavic cross-stitch (known as ponto de Arraiolos)
H: 340cm, W: 213cm
Besides imports, carpets were produced locally in Portugal for domestic consumption. Persian carpets, specifically, greatly influenced the embroidered carpets in the workshops in Arraiolos, in the Alentejo region of Portugal, from the late 16th century onwards. This testifies to the esteem to which these carpets were held and to the high demand for them by various strata in Portuguese society, especially during the 17th century. In the Arraiolos wool-embroidered versions, which incorporated the Arraiolos-stitch or ponto de Arraiolos, knotted-pile carpets underwent a real metamorphosis.
This carpet derives from the “vine scroll” carpets, the largest group of Iranian knotted-pile examples in the National Museum of Ancient Art’s collection. It is an excellent example of the creative process of the transposition of Oriental carpet pattern-design, through embroidery, which characterised the manufacture at Arraiolos during the early 17th century. Its decorative composition closely follows that of contemporary Iranian sources with its distinctive palmettes, lotus flowers and S-shaped cloud scrolls (tchi) on a green background. Simultaneously, new motifs were introduced, such as small birds, a heart-shape with three keys and three initials at the centre of the field, and four deer in the corners of the field.
Technical information provided by Teresa Pacheco Pereira
Transferred from the Convent of Santa Helena do Calvário, Évora, Portugal, in 1889
Stylistic analysis and material dating
Leite, Maria Fernanda Passos, “Tapetes de Arraiolos”, in Artes decorativas portuguesas no Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga: Séculos XV‒XVIII, Lisbon: MNAA, 1979: 145‒65.
Mendonça, Maria José de, “Tapetes de Arraiolos”, in Barreira, João (ed.), Arte Portuguesa – Artes Decorativas, Lisbon: Excelsior, n.d.
Pereira, Teresa Pacheco, Tapetes de Arraiolos, Lisbon: SILVIP, 1991.
Ana Kol "Carpet" [db_in_citation_dca] 2019. http://carpets.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?itemId=object;DCA;pt;Mus31_D;20;en
Prepared by: Ana Kol
Translation by: Lily Chadwick
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: PT1_020