The New York Square Lattice and Shrub Carpet fragment with floral quatrefoil pattern on a dark green ground

Kerman, South Central Iran, 1675
Vase technique. Bottom section with border
Wool pile on a cotton and wool foundation
218 x 115 cm

Through a series of interconnected hexagonal elements that sit within a quatrefoil lattice, this rare and important 17th century ‘Vase’ technique fragment from the New York Square Lattice and Shrub Carpet woven in Kerman, South Central Iran, is a masterful creation of floral and geometric motifs. The wool pile with a cotton and wool foundation has been dyed in the most exquisite chromatic variation of colours obtained from the local flowering plants: golden yellows, ruby reds, Damask rose and pearl, and light jasper and deep forest greens, among others.

The mesmerising pattern of this remarkable fragment of the New York Square Lattice and Shrub Carpet adheres to the floral lozenge lattice style categorized by May H. Beattie in the Carpets of Central Persia exhibition catalogue.[1] However, the design of this fragment does not closely resemble any of the examples depicted by Beattie. The quatrefoil lattice within this current fragment has undergone further development, eliminating its directional pattern.

On this fragment, the design features a grid of garden trellis holding an array of different species of delicate flowers in orange, white and yellow hues, on a deep green background. On the surrounding band of this carpet a more geometric motif shines, consistent with the garden imagery of the centre. In outstanding state of preservation, the fragment retains its original vibrant colours as well as a substantial portion of its original pile. Thought to have been positioned under a piece of furniture, which would explain the presence of a faded band, this “vase-carpet” fragment carries with it the history of where it’s travelled and who encountered it.

Vase-technique carpets were crafted in the Kerman and surrounding regions during the Safavid period, spanning from the early 17th to the mid-18th century. Coined by art historian Dr May Beattie, the term “vase carpet” refers to carpets featuring mosaic-patterned Chinese-style vases in their design, under a consistent weaving technique.

This distinctive weaving method is characterized by an unconventional structure wherein three passes of wefts follow each row of knots. The first and third passes involve tightly tensioned wool, while the third pass, usually composed of cotton, as seen in the present carpet, or silk, is intentionally left loose. Subsequently, the term “vase carpet” term was adopted to encompass all carpets woven using this specific method. Thus, whether the designs on these carpets include vases or not, they are categorized as “vase-technique” carpets. Such is the case of the present carpet fragment.

The Safavid period, spanning from the early 17th to the mid-18th century, witnessed the production of these remarkable textiles that deftly fused weaving craftsmanship with artistic expression. Originating in the bustling city of Kerman and its environs, these they are emblematic of the era’s vibrant trade networks and cultural exchanges. The present carpet, in its rich colour palette, provides a fascinating glimpse into the interplay of artistic innovation and historical context during the Safavid dynasty. Through the lens of this and other “vase-carpets”, we gain insights into the Safavid dynasty’s enduring impact on the artistic heritage of the Islamic world.

This fragment originates from a larger carpet of which two other fragments are known to exist. It was showcased at the ICOC Fair held in Washington DC in 2015. Notably, only one complete carpet with an almost identical design is documented, as published in Erwin Gans-Ruedin’s work “Splendeur Du Tapis Persan.”[2]

Private Collection, Colorado, USA.
Rodolfo Kashanian Collection, New York.
Private Collection, London, 2023.


[1] Sheffield and Birmingham, 1976, nos.56 and 57, pp.80-81.

[2] E. Gans-Ruedin, Splendeur Du Tapis Persan, Fribourg-Paris, 1978, pages 142-3.

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