Silk, silver– and gilt–metal–wrapped thread; compound twill weave, brocaded; L. 44 5/8 in. (113.3 cm), W. 27 3/4 in. (70.5 cm)
Anonymous Gift, 1949 (49.32.99)
Europeans visiting Iran remarked on the luxury of this type of “bird-and-flower” silk, first produced in the seventeenth century and a popular commodity in Iran for 200 years. The composition features a large parrot perched in a flowering bush, a nightingale flying toward the oversized roses, and a disproportionately small deer looking over its shoulder; the intricate design alternates direction in each successive row. Scholars have suggested that European treatises on natural history may have inspired the naturalistic rendering of motifs clustered together and placed in orderly rows, replacing the earlier style of interlacing patterns. The gilt ground of these textiles is created by metal-thread weft brocade; the motifs were originally rendered in much sharper colors that have since faded.