Skip to Main Content
Tags for: Carpets and Canopies in Mughal India
  • Gallery Rotation

Carpets and Canopies in Mughal India

Friday, March 22–Sunday, September 8, 2024
Location:  242B Indian Painting

About The Exhibition

Carpets and canopies designated portable courtly spaces among nomadic groups, such as the Mongols and Turks of Central Asia. The Mughals of India, who were of Mongol and Turkic descent, continued to use carpets and canopies to mark royal presence. Even when the Mughals settled in permanent stone structures, a special carpet signaled the window (jharokha in the Mughal court language of Persian) where the populace could see and petition the emperor from below. Other regional rulers all over India soon adopted the use of the jharokha carpet to locate other members of a royal household. 

Mughal carpets were not meant to be walked on; instead, they functioned more like furniture, as seats of honor. They also created an intimate space where courtly pleasures were enjoyed.  

Using silk or pashmina—fine wool yarn made from the coats of Himalayan goats—intricate floral patterns on Mughal carpets evoke the luxury of a garden of paradise. Many of the patterns originated in paintings or manuscript illuminations. In the Mughal court of India, painters worked alongside carpet weavers and textile artists, who used dyed yarns as painters used pigments.  

The swirling floral vines with a central lobed medallion testify to an ongoing appreciation of Persian design. After the 1620s, Mughal artists in India began making carpets and textiles featuring individual flowering plants regularly spaced over a plain ground. Both the Persian and Mughal floral aesthetic continue to be influential in textile designs internationally.