PLATE EIGHTEEN

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This carpet and its twin were once in the possession of the Hapsburgs. They are divided between museums in Vienna and New York.

A legend has grown up that this carpet, now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (its twin in the collection of the Vienna Museum of Applied Arts), were both presented to the Hapsburg Emperor Leopold I by Czar Peter the Great on a state visit in 1698. The famous Vienna silk Hunting carpet is also said to have been part of the same imperial gift, figure 20. In order to weave this carpet a cartoon of one complete half must have been prepared and, at the beginning, could have been used upside down. It has been proposed that the designs on some very complicated Safavid carpets may have been drawn directly onto the warps but this would have entailed drawing the pattern anew each time a process that, in the end, would have been even more time consuming.

Carpets of this group are characterized by the use of 20 colors or more. The New York example, however, is said to have suffered greatly from improper washing. It was sold in 1928 to pay for Austria 's war reparations and was purchased by Joseph Duveen, the infamous art dealer to many of the American millionaires of the early 20th century, for $112,500.