Although many carpets have survived ostensibly
as pairs, it's more likely that we are often seeing thesurvivors
from a whole series of multiples. These two examples reveal
the differences in treatment of one particular design.
carpet, Plate Five, is complete but very damaged whereas
Plate Six, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New
York is a fragment cut in the width and then re-sewn
together. These rugs seem to continue what this writer
considers an interim Safavid style characterized by
a cartouche/medallion layout that is familiar from some
later Timurid miniatures, figure 16.
bbbbbbbbbbb bbFigure 16mmmmmmmmmmmmmm
The weavers were not slavishly copying a cartoon
but were obliged from a technical standpoint to improvise. It
is interesting to note Plate Seven, a detail of the Metropolitan
Museum 's example, shows only the dragon and phoenix in combat.
Unlike the carpets shown in the Timurid miniatures,
figure 16, here we have a tabula ansata with enclosed cartouches
and an arabesque border. The mythical animal combat scenes portrayed
in these fragments can be traced back to the ancient Scythian
Art of the Steppes regions that is now the south-eastern part
There are similar representations of the Dragon
and Phoenix in combat in Chinese Art but rarely do they attain
this level of ferocity. Scenes of animals in combat were often
represented in Iran beginning from the time of the Mongols when
they first appeared in miniature paintings of the Persian Shiraz
school, as well as in the Timurid manuscripts.
By general consent these examples, Plates Five,
Six and Seven are amongst the earliest surviving Safavid carpets.