'Polonaise' carpet thumbnail 1
'Polonaise' carpet thumbnail 2
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images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Islamic Middle East, Room 42, The Jameel Gallery

'Polonaise' carpet

Carpet
1600-1625 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

This type of carpet is known as a ‘Polonaise carpet’ even though it was made in Iran. The design of this fragment is nearly identical to that of a huge carpet donated to the shrine at Najaf in Iraq, probably by Shah Abbas the Great.

The misleading name arose because carpets of this type came to Europe in the early 17th century through trade or as royal gifts. Many were found in Poland and were later mistaken for Polish products. This gave rise to the term ‘Polonaise carpet’.


Object details
Category
Object type
Materials and techniques
Silk warp and weft, silk pile with metal-wrapped thread
Brief description
Carpet fragment, silk knotted pile on silk foundation with metal-wrapped thread brocading, 'Polonaise' strapwork design on red ground with borders on two sides, probably Isfahan, Safavid Iran, 1600-1625
Physical description
A large rectangular carpet fragment with borders on two sides. Strapwork design in red and yellow silk with gold- and silver-wrapped thread.
Dimensions
  • Length: 259cm
  • Width: 144.8cm
plus board
Style
Gallery label
Jameel Gallery Carpet Fragment with Red Ground Iran, probably Isfahan 1600-25 Carpets of this type were taken to Europe in the early 17th century through trade or as royal gifts. Many were found in Poland and were later mistaken for Polish products. Yet the design is nearly identical to that of a huge carpet donated to the shrine at Najaf in Iraq, probably by Shah Abbas the Great. Silk warps (Z2S), silk wefts and pile, and metal-wrapped thread Museum no. T.36-1954(Jameel Gallery)
Object history
Sold to the Museum in May 1954, by Lady Christabel Aberconway for £2,000; the carpet had been in the collection of Lady Aberconway at least since 1931, when she lent it to the Exhibition of Persian Art in 1931.
Production
The term 'Polonaise carpet' arose when carpets of this type were found in Polish collections.
Summary
This type of carpet is known as a ‘Polonaise carpet’ even though it was made in Iran. The design of this fragment is nearly identical to that of a huge carpet donated to the shrine at Najaf in Iraq, probably by Shah Abbas the Great.



The misleading name arose because carpets of this type came to Europe in the early 17th century through trade or as royal gifts. Many were found in Poland and were later mistaken for Polish products. This gave rise to the term ‘Polonaise carpet’.
Bibliographic references
  • The Arts of Islam, Catalogue of the exhibition held at the Hayward Gallery, 8 April - 4 July, 1976, The Arts Council of Great Britain, 1976; cat.no.64, p.101.
  • Mehmet Aga-Oglu, Safavid Rugs and Textiles. The Collection of the Shrine of Imam`Ali at Al-Najaf, New York, 1941, fig.4.
  • Maurice Dimand, Oriental Rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1973, pp.59-60.
  • James Allan, The Art and Architecture of Twelver Shi'ism: Iraq, Iran and the Indian Sub-Continent, London, 2012, pl.3.5b, p.87.
  • Exhibition of Persian Art, Catalogue of an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, London from 7th January to 7th March 1931, p.168, no.265.
  • Arthur Upham Pope, A Survey of Persian Art, vol.IV, p.2395 and vol.XII, p.1252.
Collection
Accession number
T.36-1954

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Record createdNovember 4, 2003
Record URL
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