Persian Mohtashem rug

Description of Design and History 

This is a rather remarkable Mohtaschem rug, in terms of its field design. A soft brown bifurcated tree snakes with a sinuous vigor up the field, marvelously intertwined with the far more slender, foliate-branched cream tree, with other clear cream leafy-shrubs at the base of the field. A spectacular abundance of foliage includes lotus palmettes, rosettes and leaves, bunches of grapes, and other fruit or foliage devices that gives the vegetal decoration of the piece its highly unusual appearance. Glimpsed amidst this woodland profusion are multifarious birds and animals, depicted in intriguingly naturalistic manner, this combat group serving to illustrate the lifelike style of animal drawing adopted, and the peculiarly irrational relationship of such animals to their background. The creatures are realistic in setting – the grazing deer, the squatting squirrel-like animals and so on. This strange mixture is reminiscent of the vaq-vac tree (‘talking tree’) design of the Mughal Indian carpets. A conventional ivory-ground arabesque scroll and palmette border and floral guard stripes, with an outer stripe of tiny arches like the barmak pattern of the Turkoman, establishes a traditional, and mellow-coloured, frame to this splendid field, its animate theme reflected in the liveliness of its rendition. Wool, knotting and the harmonies of colour are all definitive of the early Mohtaschem style. A superb work of Persian animal art.

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