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  • Place of origin:

    Iran (made)

  • Date:

    1500-1600 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Hand knotted woollen pile, on cotton warp and cotton and silk weft; asymmetrical knot, open to the left; 225 knots per sq. in (3,660 per sq. dm)

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This much-worn medallion carpet belongs to a remarkable category of sixteenth-century carpets from Iran. Often named “Sanguszko” carpets after the aristocratic Polish family who owned one example (today in the Miho Museum in Japan), this group is well-known for the human figures and animals in their complex designs. Here, the red central field features a dramatic yellow central medallion with smaller cartouches and pendants along the central vertical axis. At the corners are four quarter-medallions in dark blue. The border has a cream ground, with large leafy scrolls and flowers. The red field is filled with hunting creatures, drawn with great detail and fluency: tigers and leopards hunting down deer, lurking wolves and fiery supernatural creatures also in combat. Less easy to detect are the single faces peering out from the surrounding lotus flowers: angelic white faces with beauty spots, and snarling lion faces. At the very centre, the radiating design of the medallion is also packed with interlacing foliate scrollwork, and further animals, birds and fish packed into cartouches.
The most lyrical part of the design lies in the four corners, inside the quarter-medallions: against a dark blue ground, three winged angels gather, surrounded by curling clouds. One is seated and seems to hold a wine-cup, while the other two are carrying a peacock and a small deer: this seems to be a celestial version of a court reception scene.

Physical description

Carpet, Hunting Carpet, Sanguszko Carpet, hand knotted woollen pile on cotton warp and cotton and silk weft, Persian, 16th century.
Warp: white cotton, Z4S, 30 threads per inch/ 122 per dm; depressed
Weft: white cotton and white silk; unable to ascertain spin, ply and twist, 3 shoots after each row of knots [probably two of cotton and one of silk]; 15 knots per inch/60 per dm.
Pile: wool; 13 colours: red, orange, yellow, light yellow, dark green, green, dark blue, blue, light blue, brown, light brown, pink, white; asymmetrical knot open to the left and tied around two warp threads; 225 knots per sq.inch/3660 per sq.dm
Side Finish: Missing
End Finish: Missing
Design: Field: red ground with a central medallion which has a yellow ground and which has broad blue interlaced stems containing small flowerheads. The interlacing encloses animals and flowers and there is a apir of birds in the centre. Above and below this medallion there is a blue ground cartouche and a yellow ground pendant. There are quarter medallions in the corners of the field: these have a dark blue ground and contain three angels, two of which hold animals or birds.The red field is decorated with animals in combat; these include chilins, tigers, wolves, cheetahs and gazelles. There are also human faces within the larger blossoms. The ground is decorated with delicate green curving stems and blossoms.
Main border, part of which is missing along the left hand side: white ground with large dark blue palmettes, animals in combat, blue/yellow rosettes and long serrated blue leaves.
Inner border: yellow ground with an orange meander with blue/white/red flowers and brown/white rosettes.
Outer border, missing along the left hand side: dark blue ground with adouble meander in red outlined with yellow. There are large orange or yellow animals heads alternating with a small blue head in profile.

Place of Origin

Iran (made)


1500-1600 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Hand knotted woollen pile, on cotton warp and cotton and silk weft; asymmetrical knot, open to the left; 225 knots per sq. in (3,660 per sq. dm)


Weight: 13 kg, Width: 1060 mm Top edge, Width: 1050 mm Bottom edge, Length: 1990 mm Proper right edge, Length: 1955 mm Proper left edge

Object history note

Purchased from A. Myers & Son, 179 New Bond Street, London. Art referees for the purchase: William Morris, Thomas Armstrong, Caspar Purdon Clarke.
Morris made the following comments in his report to the Museum: "The whole of the design is in the finest and most elegant Persian manner, the colour both refined and effective, [...] I have no hesitation in classing the carpet amongst the most excellent of the ancient examples of the art of which a few have been lately brought to this country. [...] I must point out that such carpets as this, though typical of the art of a fine period, are thoroughly individual in character, and there is no chance of meeting with a similar one. [...] I beg to remark that at present the Museum possesses no fine example of carpet weaving, a very serious deficiency in such a collection" (22 February 1883).

Descriptive line

Middle East, Textile, Carpet; Carpet, wool knotted pile on cotton warp and cotton and silk weft, 'Sanguszko' medallion hunting design on red ground, Safavid Iran, 1500-1600

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

May H. Beattie, Jenny Housego and A.H. Morton, "Vase-Technique Carpets and Kirman", Oriental Art 23/4 (1977) pp.455-471: fig.13, p.467.
May H. Beattie, Carpets of Central Persia, with special reference to rugs of Kirman (London: World of Islam Festival Trust, 1976): no.65, p.37.


Wool yarn; Cotton fibre; Silk


Weaving; Knotting

Subjects depicted

Tiger; Animals; Cheetah; Lion; Chilin; Gazelle; Stylized flowers; Birds; Wolf; Medallion; Angel; Deer; Cartouche; Human faces


Textiles; Floor coverings


Middle East Section

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