Antique Sultanabad Fragment, c. 1870 (Persia)

This lovely rare piece provides us with an excellent glimpse of mid-19th century carpets. With its elusive color, faint whisper of design, and softest most inviting wool, one can imagine how this fragment’s mother carpet must have looked in its large original size and how it must have provided its room with a subtle atmospheric and subdued glow. These early 19th century Sultanabads were woven to decorate the floors of the grandest European and American mansions. This fragment’s mother carpet functioned as all great carpets were meant to, as the perfect foundation for living a life on.

However this Sultanabad fragment taken from the wide border of its mother carpet, informs the viewer there is more here than a beautiful decorative carpet. A closer look reveals a small cross surrounded by concentric eight pealed flowers. Enclosing this cross and flowers is the image of a large Armenian Christian cross. It appears as a secret embellished by and hidden with other floral elements, but close scrutiny reveals its outstretched pendants. Is it a prayer woven by the weaver? It remains a mystery muted by time.


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The Antique Rug Fragment as Serious Art

There are passages in all art that can exist independently as a meaningful aesthetic, functioning separately from the complete work they once belonged to. In these frames we see pieces from archaic rugs, fragments from their mother rug, which had over time been destroyed. Occasionally areas of these old surviving pieces can exist on their own, and still express spirituality, decoration, a sense of magic and what it means to live in a timeless culture. The events that have defined all human life are symbolically addressed here: giving birth, raising a family, tending to animals, accepting the inevitability of death and the absolute belief in the existence of an immutable godhead. These fragments express all that we look for in an art object: beauty, honesty and mastery of craft. These humble fragments establish a life of their own, one that takes us directly without distraction to the essence of rug art.