Plate One

Plate Three & Four

Plate Eight

Plate Ten

Plate Twelve

Plate Fourteen

Plate Sixteen & Seventeen

Plate Nineteen

Plate Twenty-One

Plate Twenty-Three

Plate Twenty-Six

Plate Twenty-Eight

Plate Thirty
Plate Two

Plate Five, Six & Seven

Plate Nine

Plate Eleven

Plate Thirteen

Plate Fifteen

Plate Eighteen

Plate Twenty

Plate Twenty-Two

Plate Twenty-Four

Plate Twenty-Seven

Plate Twenty-Nine

Plate Thirty-One & Thirty-Two


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The second group of animal carpets, those without medallions, forms a more homogenous cluster than those with medallions and is interesting for the study of the later, so-called, ‘Red-ground Floral’ carpets.

The most prestigious examples of this group are the two Emperor's Carpets, one of which is illustrated as Plate Eighteen.

Here the depiction of animals facing off in deadly combat shows a very different tenor than the “Paradise Park” theme carpets. Ferocious and lusty these scenes have something almost copulative about them.

The border design here, figure 17 is probably the most brilliant ever attempted on any carpet. Animal heads are placed at regular intervals along the scrolling cloudbands, recalling a Zoroastrian mace with a Bull’s head. The Emperor's Carpet, as Plate Eighteen has become known, was designed using a quartered field mirrored vertically and horizontally on its axis. The composition turns on a central pivot from which the viewer can behold an entire 360 degree panorama. Thus the figures in the lower half had to be woven upside-down or in profile.

Strangely on both carpets, this one and its twin, the two-plane scrolling vine system that underpins the design also differs in the lower and upper halves. The lower field section appears cramped when compared to the more amply drawn figures in the upper field.

Perhaps this was a deliberate attempt to even out the overall optical effect it would have when viewing along the length from the carpet's base and this may be the reason for the change in the scrolling vine layout. Four ibex in the field also contribute to this effect, for when they are viewed from either end they are seen standing upright.

These carpets are also a good starting point to understand the spiral-vine design layout. Figure 18 is a diagrammatic rendering of the Emperor's Carpet. Drawn by Siegfried Troll and published in Sarre-Trenkwald's major work on early carpets (see bibliography) this diagram clearly delineates their spiral-vine ground layout and demonstrates the disparity between upper and lower field portions. Along a central axis vines circle out towards the borders and wind back, often three times in the most complicated versions where a second vine-trellis is often laid on top. The main design elements can be neatly placed at regularly recurring points.



The arabesque spiral vine was already highly developed in other media during Timurid period, as a carved stone panel, figure 19, from the Gur-i-Amir in Samarkand shows. This architectural panel is dated to around 1400-1450, which was during the Timurid occupation of this region.


The earlier origins of these spiraling vegetative forms can be traced to ancient Greece, at least as far back as 500 B.C., when the acanthus scroll form appears as a decorative element.