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The Mounsey Carpet

Carpet
1475-1500 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

'Mamluk' carpet
Design: Red ground with a multi-side blue medallion containing a ring of red papyrus design. Within the medallion, outlined in a yellow scallop, is a red oval which contains a green octagon with an angular, 8-pointed interlaced star in blue. Extending from the octagon are 8 stylized leaves each containing an elaborate knot and separated by green triangles. Above and below the medallion is an oblong design in blue and green of an arabesque with knots and leaf-like designs. These look out of keeping with the rest of the design. At each corner, an octagon alligned to two triangles provides a corner frame to the medallion and in each far corner an 8-pointed star together with the arabesque oblong creates an upper and lower band.
NB: light blue ground with papyrus meander with red circles alternating with green cartouches. At the sides the central cartouche becomes a green circle. Within the cartouche is a blue hexagon. The circles and cartouches are decorated with the papyrus design which appears as though it were a supplementary border along either side of the cartouches. Along the lower edge of the main border this effect is accentuated because the ground is a darker shade of blue.

Inner and outer (outer missing top and bottom); red ground with a yellow angular meander with corroded black blocks and yellow sprigs.

Warp: wool; possibly yellow with the ends dyed green for the fringe; S4Z (at least 4), 22-25 per inch,(88-100 per dm).

Weft: red wool, S-spun; 3 threads per shoot, 2 shoots per row of knots, 11 knots per inch (44 per dm)

Pile: wool; red, yellow, white, green, light blue, black. Asymmetrical, open to the left, tied round 2 warp threads. 121-138 knots per sq. in (1936-2200 per sq. dm).

Side finish: one cord overcast with red wool

End finish: missing.

(Analysed through glass, 9.3.99)


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Warp: wool; possibly yellow with the ends dyed green for the fringe; S4Z (at least 4), 22-25 per inch,(88-100 per dm). Weft: red wool, S-spun; 3 threads per shoot, 2 shoots per row of knots, 11 knots per inch (44 per dm) Pile: wool; red, yellow, white, green, light blue, black. Asymmetrical, open to the left, tied round 2 warp threads. 121-138 knots per sq. in (1936-2200 per sq. dm).
Brief Description
Carpet known as the 'Mounsey Carpet', wool knotted pile on wool foundation, geometric design of central medallion on red ground with border of cartouches on blue ground, Mamluk Cairo, Egypt, 1475-1500
Physical Description
'Mamluk' carpet

Design: Red ground with a multi-side blue medallion containing a ring of red papyrus design. Within the medallion, outlined in a yellow scallop, is a red oval which contains a green octagon with an angular, 8-pointed interlaced star in blue. Extending from the octagon are 8 stylized leaves each containing an elaborate knot and separated by green triangles. Above and below the medallion is an oblong design in blue and green of an arabesque with knots and leaf-like designs. These look out of keeping with the rest of the design. At each corner, an octagon alligned to two triangles provides a corner frame to the medallion and in each far corner an 8-pointed star together with the arabesque oblong creates an upper and lower band.

NB: light blue ground with papyrus meander with red circles alternating with green cartouches. At the sides the central cartouche becomes a green circle. Within the cartouche is a blue hexagon. The circles and cartouches are decorated with the papyrus design which appears as though it were a supplementary border along either side of the cartouches. Along the lower edge of the main border this effect is accentuated because the ground is a darker shade of blue.



Inner and outer (outer missing top and bottom); red ground with a yellow angular meander with corroded black blocks and yellow sprigs.



Warp: wool; possibly yellow with the ends dyed green for the fringe; S4Z (at least 4), 22-25 per inch,(88-100 per dm).



Weft: red wool, S-spun; 3 threads per shoot, 2 shoots per row of knots, 11 knots per inch (44 per dm)



Pile: wool; red, yellow, white, green, light blue, black. Asymmetrical, open to the left, tied round 2 warp threads. 121-138 knots per sq. in (1936-2200 per sq. dm).



Side finish: one cord overcast with red wool



End finish: missing.



(Analysed through glass, 9.3.99)
Dimensions
  • Top edge width: 1468mm
  • Bottom edge width: 1540mm
  • Proper right length: 1935mm
  • Proper left length: 1845mm
Style
Gallery Label
Old label: The place of manufacture of this 16th century carpet has been the subject of much revision and the question is still unresolved. The limited number of colours makes it difficult to see every detail of the design and creates a damask-like effect. Perhaps because of this, these carpets were known as 'Damascene' in 16th century European inventories and subsequently it was thought that they had been woven in Damascus, Syria. It is now widely accepted that these carpets were woven in Cairo in the 15th and 16th centuries and they are now called Mamluk carpets after the dynasty which ruled Egypt from 1250-1517. However, they are still the subject of much speculation.
Object history
Purchased from Sir George Mounsey via Sotheby's London, on 15 January 1944, for £270.
Production
cf: Thompson (1983), p.148, "Mamluk", NB. main border



Ellis (1988) illus. 38-40, "Mamluk rugs, Cairo", from c. 1500-1600, NB. main borders and quote ".. late 15th C... at each end of the field there is a broad cross-panel so that the regular space between them is compressed.." (illus. 38).



Kuhnel (1957), "Mamluk Rugs of Egypt", illus. III & IX, for sides of main border; illus. XVII for bracketted motifs in panels as found beneath 'Catherine wheels' in this piece; illus. XVI for corner stars and for comparison of secondary stars with the very centre of this piece; illus. XXI for the minor border.
Bibliographic References
  • Institut du Monde Arabe, Tapis. Present de l'Orient a l'Occident (Paris: IMA, 1989) pp.31-32.
  • Donald King, Robert Pinner and Michael Franses, "East Mediterranean Carpets in the Victoria & Albert Museum", HALI, 4/1 (1981) pp.36-52.
Collection
Accession Number
T.26-1943

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record createdJune 15, 2004
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