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  • Place of origin:

    Iran (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1880 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Hand knotted woollen pile, on cotton warp and woollen weft; symmetrical knot; 180 knots per sq. in (2,736 per sq. dm)

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Small carpets with a single arch or niche in the design are often referred to as 'prayer carpets'. Carpets or embroidered cloths [which are easier to carry around] are often used to define a person's space during Muslim prayer rituals. The arch is usually understood to represent the mihrab or decorative panel in the wall of a mosque which indicates the direction of Mecca. This carpet was acquired in 1888 when it was new and it demonstrates the true principles of functional design which were advocated by the Museum authorities when the Collections were being formed in the 1850s: the design is flat (there is no attempt to create perspective by the use of shading) and it is well-coloured. The target of their criticism had been the tendency of European designers to imitate nature as closely as possible, to create carpets patterned with naturalistic, three-dimensional blossoms and fruits and even architectural ruins. It may seem laughable now, but they feared such realistic designs would confuse anyone standing on them and cause people to feel dizzy, lose their balance and stumble!

Physical description

Carpet, prayer carpet, hand-knotted woollen pile on cotton warp and woollen weft, Persian, c.1880
WARP: white cotton; Z4S; 20 threads to the inch (76 per dm). NB: small area towards top of inner border on right-hand side, by blue flower; several warp threads may have broken and been rejoined.
WEFT: cream wool, white cotton; Z2S; 2 shoots after each row of knots; 18 knots to the inch (72 per dm).
PILE: wool; 15 colours: red, light red, orange (faded), yellow, dark green, green, light green, dark blue, blue, purple, light pink, light brown, very light brown, black, cream; symmetrical knot tied around 2 threads; 180 knots to the sq. inch (2736 per sq. dm).
SIDE FINISH: both sides have 2 cords overcast with light brown wool.
END FINISH: lower: 4 cm maximum plain weave with white cotton weft, the final weft thread is a doubly-plied Z cord and then 1.5 cm twisted warp loops. Upper: 1 cm plain weave with yellow cotton weft turned and stitched in place.
DESIGN: Field: cream ground with three bands of a pair of red rosettes alternating with two bands of pairs of red-petalled flowers with protruding stamen. Curving green stems link these flowers to smaller yellow, dark blue and other red ones and to blue leaves. This area is bounded along the bottom and three-quarters the way up the sides by a dark blue ground border which turns inwards to form a slightly curving pointed niche. Within this top point of the border, in the two top corners and elsewhere along the border are yellow rosettes - with other blossoms and green leaves - forming a floral meander.
The spandrels have a cream ground, heavily filled with yellow and blue flowers linked by green stems with slender green leaves. In each corner is a group of three dark red rosettes and the spandrels meet where a sprig supports a larger variation.
Main border: green ground with elaborate floral meander bearing, principally, light red rosettes and clusters of three white or yellow flowers with blue or dark blue leaves.
Outer border: light brown ground with hexagonal stylised flowers framed by angular narrow bands linked between the flowers.
Catalogue Date: 27.6.95

Place of Origin

Iran (made)


ca. 1880 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Hand knotted woollen pile, on cotton warp and woollen weft; symmetrical knot; 180 knots per sq. in (2,736 per sq. dm)


Length: 152.5 cm maximum, Length: 150 cm minimum, Width: 102 cm maximum, Width: 96 cm minimum, Weight: 14 kg, Width: 907 mm Bottom edge, Width: 1020 mm Top edge, Length: 1510 mm Proper right edge, Length: 1510 mm Proper left edge

Descriptive line

1800s, Persian; Tabriz


Wool yarn; Cotton


Weaving; Knotting

Subjects depicted

Niche; Mihrab; Stylized flowers


Textiles; Floor coverings


Middle East Section

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