This item has been added to the Database within the Explore Islamic Art Collections project. Information is available in: English.
Pair of shaped carpets
Honolulu, Hawai'i, United States of America
Shangri La, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art
Each carpet approximately: L: 455cm, W: 275cm. Overall: 467.4 x 556.2cm
Lahore, Pakistan or Northern India or Kashmir
A pair of shaped carpets, each of arched trapezoidal form, lie together to form a large, rectangular carpet with a hexagon cut-out at centre. The carpets terminate in mirrored tips such that a narrow opening is formed when the carpets are paired. The purpose of the opening and the function of the carpets generally has been the subject of debate. Could they have been tent or palace furnishings? Might they have surrounded a throne or a fountain? Or was there some other purpose?
Each carpet’s deep red field is replete with discrete floral sprays arranged in rows and oriented to the left, upper, and right edges. The polychrome floral sprays are rendered with enough detail to enable identification of chrysanthemums, poppies, tulips, and irises among other flowers. Works of art produced during the reign of the Mughal dynasty are famous for their delicate floral motifs. During the first half of the 17th century in particular, the Mughal emperors showed great interest in carefully observed forms found in nature, which court artists translated into a variety of materials, the best known of which is the stone inlay on the Taj Mahal. Intricately woven flower carpets are known to have been made for the Mughal court of pashmina wool and silk, at least one of which has a staggering 1,085 knots per square inch.
These shaped carpets are more modest in production. With a cotton warp and weft and a pile of sheep’s wool, they show a weave of approximately 156 knots per square inch. They are part of a well-known group associated with the Jaipur royal house of India. They may once have been furnishings at Amber Palace, but were later moved to Jaipur where most of the group is still sealed in storage at the City Palace. Many of those carpets still have their original inventory labels which indicate the group was purchased around 1650 in Lahore (Pakistan). However, it is not certain if they were woven there, or in Kashmir, or perhaps elsewhere in Northern India.
Stylistic analysis; historic documents; technical analysis
Purchased by Doris Duke at auction from the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Sotheby's New York, December 8, 1990, lot 8
Sales receipt and auction catalogue
Dimand, M.S., The Kevorkian Foundation Collection of Rare and Magnificent Oriental Carpets, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1966.
Walker, Daniel S., Flowers Underfoot, Indian Carpets of the Mughal Era, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1997.
Denny, Walter B., and Farnham, Thomas J., The Carpet and the Connoisseur: The James F Ballard Collection of Oriental Rugs, London: Hali Publications, 2016.
Thompson, Jon, “Shaped Carpets Found in the Jaipur Treasury”, in K. Riboud (ed.), In Quest of Themes and Skills: Asian Textile, Bombay: Marg, 1989: 48–51.
Kamada, Yumiko, “Doris’s Choice: Indian Carpets and Textiles at Shangri La”, Shangri La Working Papers in Islamic Art, no. 6 (March 2014): 1–28, www.shangrilahawaii.org .
Sharon Tomlinson, Bethany Bannister-Andrews "Pair of shaped carpets" in Explore Islamic Art Collections. Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;EPM;us;Mus22;48;en
Prepared by: Sharon Tomlinson, Bethany Bannister-Andrews
MWNF Working Number: US2 48