Lot 97
  • 97

A West Persian silk rug, possibly Joshugan

40,000 - 60,000 GBP
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  • silk, pile
  • approximately 173 by 146cm; 5ft. 8in., 4ft. 10in.
Knot density: V: 11/cm; H: 14/cm


Christie’s New York, September 20, 1979

Robert Khan

Eberhart Herrmann (by 1982)

An anonymous German Collector

Sold by the estate of the above to benefit a Charitable Foundation


Herrmann, Eberhart, Seltene Orientteppiche (Rare Oriental Carpets), Munich, Vol. IV, Cat. No. 68, pp.198-199.

Christie’s New York, September 20, 1979, catalogued as Heriz (sold for the then record price of $44,000)

Art & Auction, December 1982/January 1983, front cover and Benedict, p. 61, Rosaline Candlin and Howard, Constance, ‘A Nineteenth-Century Persian Rug’


Overall measurements: 140cm across the top, 146cm across the bottom, 170cm along the left, 173cm along the right. Very flexible handle. Fine, dense, generally even 1-2mm pile overall. There are five small holes in the top border, two of which have been cobbled together. These would appear to be where the rug was, at some stage in its past, pinned to a baton on the wall, they are probably nail holes (image 1). There is also a small semi-circular section of re-weave to the outermost edge of the outer red guard, approx 2 by 1cm (image 2). There are some localised areas of knot loss within the blue pile (image 3), with a small amount of later re-piling (image 4). When hanging these are barely visible (image 5). The rug would benefit from a conservation lining to support it, especially at the upper end. If it is displayed it should probably be mounted onto a stretcher, as a textile would be. There are also a few small scattered minute old repairs within the ivory ground lower left section of border (image 6). Some surface discolouration, visible on front and reverse, for example within the ivory border (Image 7). There is a small circular section of re-weave in the main field, approx 2cm diameter (image 8). Both ends with original flatweave and knotted silk fringing (image 9), more visible along the lower end. There is a section later inset in the lower right corner of fringing. This is a highly sophisticated design, technically very well executed. Beautiful and rare example with a full range of colour. We consider the condition comments made to be minor. This example is in outstanding condition for its age. Please contact Harry Grenfell, harry.grenfell@sothebys.com, +44 (0)207 293 5556 for the above mentioned condition images.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

For a similar and equally evocative example in scale and design, with overall repeat pattern leaf lattice enclosing flowering plants, centred with a similarly distinctive central motif superimposed on the diagonal lattice, with diminutive chequered spandrels, and ivory ground border, Northwest Persia, 19th century, see Herrmann, Eberhart, Von Konya bis Kokand, Seltene Orientteppiche (Rare Oriental Carpets), Munich, 1980, Vol. III, Cat. No. 40, p.86.

Herrmann, in attributing this published carpet to Joshugan, acknowledged it as being a puzzle. The design broadly relates to the large group of Safavid inspired designs from the 16th through to the 18th century which included the garden and the shrub lattice designs. The present example is particularly unusual and charming with the pomegranates at each cross-over of the lattice leaf lattice, and the border with alternating cypress tree and foliate motifs, with the appealing inclusion of small facing birds. These designs migrated to the central and northwest areas of Persia, and were taken up by the independent weavers of Joshugan and Kurdistan. Herrmann notes that the present carpet resembles an example in the Tehran Museum, described as Baktiari, but not of Baktiari technical structure; along with the comparable example cited above, which is of the same structure, it is possible they all belong to the same group.

Please note that there may be restrictions on the import of property of Iranian origin into some or all member countries of the Gulf Co-Operation Council.  Any buyers planning to import property of Iranian origin into any of these countries should satisfy themselves of the relevant import regime. Sotheby's will not assist buyers with the shipment of such items into countries of the Gulf Co-Operation Council.

Addendum: In addition to the examples cited above, the article in Art & Auction op.cit notes two further rugs that might ‘ultimately receive a Joshuqan provenance’: Sotheby’s New York April 10 & 11, 1981, lot 424, with yellow ground with plant trellis, similar spandrels to the present lot,  6ft 2 in by 4 ft 9 in, sold for $47,000 (excluding Buyers’ Premium, then 10%) and Sotheby’s New York, December 16, 1978, lot 82 (described as a Tabriz), again with similar spandrels.  Another example is also noted, present whereabouts unknown, which apparently has an identical border and was sold by Parke-Bernet Galleries in March, 1938 from the Estate of Mr and Mrs Percy Rockefeller (for $350).