Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Silk Animal Carpet

Object Name:
second half 16th century
Made in Iran, probably Kashan
Silk (warp, weft, and pile); asymmetrically knotted pile
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)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913
Accession Number:
Not on view
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.
Prince Princezza, Evora, Portugal; Edouard Chappey, Paris (until 1907; sale Galerie Georges Petit,Paris, June 5–7, 1907, lot 1912, sold to Altman); Benjamin Altman, New York (1907–d. 1913; bequeathed to MMA)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Four Silk Kashan Rugs," August 2, 1994–February 5, 1994, no catalogue.

Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Muhammadan Art. 2nd rev. and enl. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1944. p. 293, ill. fig. 194 (b/w).

Dimand, Maurice S., and Jean Mailey. Oriental Rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1973. no. 13, pp. 101, 142-143, ill. fig. 79.

Ellis, Charles. Oriental Carpets in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1988. p. 171.

Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 182, pp. 4, 261-263, ill. p. 262 (color).

Related Objects

Silk Kashan Carpet

Date: 16th century Medium: Silk (warp, weft and pile); asymmetrically knotted pile Accession: 58.46 On view in:Gallery 455

The Anhalt Medallion Carpet

Date: probably first half 16th century Medium: Cotton (warp), silk (weft), wool (pile); asymmetrically knotted pile Accession: 46.128 On view in:Gallery 462

Star Ushak Carpet

Date: probably 17th century Medium: Wool (warp, weft and pile); symmetrically knotted pile Accession: 22.100.110 On view in:Not on view

The 'Nigde' Carpet

Date: 18th century Medium: Cotton (warp and weft), wool (pile); symmetrically knotted pile Accession: 56.217 On view in:Not on view

Polonaise Carpet

Date: 17th century Medium: Cotton (warp and weft), silk (weft and pile), metal wrapped thread; asymmetrically knotted pile, brocaded Accession: 50.190.2 On view in:Gallery 463