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  • Place of origin:

    Kirman (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1600-1700 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cotton warp, silk and cotton wefts, and wool pile

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Islamic Middle East, Room 42, The Jameel Gallery, case WW3

This splendid carpet is laid out with a floral design of surprising complexity, against a pink-red field. The overall design is a triple-plane lattice, composed of three independently-composed trellis grids of different colours: blue-black, thorny white and leafy blue. These three grid systems are not immediately apparent because of the grand scale of the multiple flowerheads and medallions along each trellis. Furthermore, “behind” the three trellis systems are flowering plants and shrubs, also distracting the eye. This ordered design is greatly enlivened by the wonderful detail and variety in the colourful flowers and plants. Towards the top of the central axis, the white trellis features a striped vase of flowers, also repeated in the lower borders as “half-vases”: this motif gives its name to the wider category of Vase Carpets. The upper border is missing, and the original carpet was certainly even longer.

The carpet belongs to a well-known group generally attributed to Kerman in southeast Iran, and to the seventeenth century. These are referred to as “Vase technique” carpets, as they often include a vase motif in their complex lattice designs, but more uniformly, the group shares the same triple-weft technical structure. There are many examples of Kerman vase carpets (and fragments) in national collections across the world. This carpet was bought in 1897 from the estate of the British designer, poet, craftsman and socialist William Morris, who supported the South Kensington Museum (today the V&A) with collections advice over many years, and was a formidable influence on the institution. During his lifetime, Morris had kept this large carpet hanging lengthways on the wall of his home, with the top section overhanging from the ceiling rather like a medieval canopy. He enjoyed it as one of his household furnishing, but more specifically, the complex planar design must have pleased him as a designer.

Physical description

NB: analysed through glass.

Technique: knotted pile.

Warp: cotton; Z 3/4S; depressed; 34 knots to the inch, 136 per dm.

Weft: white; cotton with possible silk; Z-spun; unplied, 2 parallel threads; 16 rows of knots per inch (64 per dm); 3 shoots after each row of knots.

Pile: wool; 14 colours: red, orange, yellow, dark green, light green, dark blue, blue, light blue, purple, pink, light pink, dark grey, dark brown, white; asymmetrical knot open to left tied around 2 warp threads.

Side finish: left - evidence of single cord; right - missing.

End finish: lower - missing; upper - cut.

Field: red ground; mirrored pairs of large decorated blossoms and smaller flowers lie on pairs of stems that meet vertically and then open into an elongated hexagon before reassembling; the paired stems are in white, dark green and in blue/pink/dark blue; naturalistic flowering plants fill the field and centre (of fragment) and above centre are two vases, the lower one circular. 2 half-vases appear at each side-edge.
Main border: dark blue ground; a pair of blue blossoms and a white rosette; at centre of lower border is a single blue blossom.
Guard stripes: inner - yellow ground with small purple cartouches with small orange flowers alternating with a small 4-lobed decorated blue device between which are 2 pairs of small pink half-flowers along edges; outer - yellow ground with dark green meander bearing red 5-petalled flowers and dark green leaves.

Place of Origin

Kirman (possibly, made)


1600-1700 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Cotton warp, silk and cotton wefts, and wool pile


Length: 523 cm, Width: 330.5 cm

Object history note

This carpet belonged to the British designer William Morris (1834-96) until his death. He used it as a source for his own work. It was kept in the dining room of Kelmscott House until his death.
Purchased from Jane Morris, Kelmscott House, The Mall, Hammersmith.

Descriptive line

Carpet, wool knotted pile on cotton warp and silk and cotton weft, 'Vase Carpet' lattice design on red ground, Kerman, Iran, 1600-1700

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

A. C. Edwards, The Persian Carpet (London: Duckworth 1975): 16, pl. 5.

Labels and date

Jameel Gallery

Carpet with Floral Lattice
Iran, possibly Kirman

This carpet is one of a group in which the motifs are organised in a lattice pattern on several levels. As vases often occur in these designs, they are sometimes called 'vase carpets'. The group's weave of cotton, silk and wool is also distinctive.

This example belonged to the British designer William Morris (1834-96), who used it as a source for his own work.

Cotton warp (Z3/4S), silk and cotton wefts, and wool pile

Museum no. 719-1897 [Jameel Gallery]
This 17th-century 'vase carpet' from the Kirman area of southern Iran once graced the dining room of William Morris' home, Kelmscott House. On his death it was purchased by the Museum.

This type of carpet is named after the small vase or vases which appear in many, but not all, of them: a blue and white striped vase can be seen two-thirds of the way up the central part of this carpet.

One of the easiest ways to regulate a pattern is to use a repeating framework on which to place motifs. In vase carpets the framework is created by two or three overlaid lattices. There are three lattices in this example: a white one, a light blue one, and a dark blue/red/light blue one. Large, stylised blossoms have been placed on these lines and realistic sprays of flowers have been placed in the spaces created by the lattices.

The upper part of the carpet is missing. A second, less detailed Vase carpet is 364-1897.

[old label from Gallery 42] [unknown]


Cotton; Wool



Subjects depicted



Floor coverings


Middle East Section

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