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Details & Cataloguing

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A Malayer rug, West Persia

Catalogue Note

The imagery of this rug can be read on several levels.  At first impression it is simply a charming depiction of an idyllic garden with flowering trees and plants, birds and a fruiting pomegranate tree, amongst which are tethered goats and dogs, together with a peacock, the whole flanked by lions. These individual elements also have particular associations:  the pomegranate tree is a symbol of both fertility and immortality; the colour white is associated with goodness and with nobility. Lions appear in many guises in Persian art; they are symbols of royalty and power (there is a tradition of spreading lion rugs before the potentate), and lions are found supporting pillars in palaces and the Marble Throne in the Golestān Palace. They also can be found carved in stone as grave guardians, similarly to the early guardian lions of China. The peacock with his 'thousand eyes' can represent cosmic wisdom, and can also be a representation of the divine; he also lends his wings and tail to the simurgh, the guardian of the Persian kingdom. Together they suggest a weaving designed to provide power and protection, very possibly for a khan.  (For further discussion of lion rugs see also http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/lion-rugs, accessed 19.09.18). Herrmann comments on the iconography as follows: "The path through this side of the world from East to West and vice versa has been ended by the mighty sun lions, the supernatural Simurgh travelling between both worlds is in the centre of interest. Smaller horned moon animals and other creatures living in the imaginary world are positioned in the background between trees-of-life." (EH)

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