Prayer Rug

Prayer Rug

1800s

Wool, inlaid work and silk embroidery, chain stitch

Overall: 194.9 x 132.7 cm (76 3/4 x 52 1/4 in.)

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Wade 1916.1297

Location

Description

Elaborate arched panels with multiple borders similar to this textile formed the mosaic-like interior walls of imperial tents. Here, the field is dominated by a richly decorated cypress tree above peacocks and dragon heads on an ornate foliate ground. Bright white silk “pearl” outlines, vines, and ringlets in chain-stitch embroidery enliven the pattern on contrasting colors of fulled wool. Internationally fashionable botehs, or paisleys, decorate the outer red borders. Although this patchwork technique was recorded in Iran in the 1670s, most examples survive from the 19th century, when foreigners praised them as “really [the] most beautiful embroidery.” The technique appears in furnishing fabrics, horse covers, as well as imperial portraits, including one depicting the Qajar monarch Fath ‘Ali Shah, who ruled in 1797–1837.

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