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A Khotan long rug, East Turkestan
uncoffered 'gül pattern' with rosettes and distinctive yellow field
approximately 212 by 109cm; 6ft. 11in., 3ft. 7in.
circa 1800
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Catalogue Note

The uncoffered variant of the gül pattern’, uses the rosette as a filler motif or scattered motifs, and some are no longer contained within a small medallion, and this example is unusual in having alternating vertical columns of rosettes in either a dark colour or a light colour (in this example two dark columns and one light column), creating a dynamism against the yellow ground. The Khotan rugs with this pattern, use the colours of the rosettes to highlight a pattern, with some being the same colour on the diagonal, others alternating colour with every other rosette, and some variants of both.

For elaboration on the variant of the gül pattern with rosettes, and examples from the late 17th/early 18th century and later, with the rosettes and borders including the Chinese character inspired auspicious Buddhist swastika borders, or interlocking ‘T’ borders, see Bidder (1979) pp.43-85, 57-64, & 69, figs. 10, 11, 11a, & 13, & plates XIV, 1 & 2.

For an example with rows of light and dark rosettes on the diagonal, against a madder field, with indigo border with stylised palmette design, 19th century, see Herrmann (1989), pp. 128 & 129, no. 60.

The carpets and rugs of East Turkestan

East Turkestan (far West China: Xinjiang) geographically is a large region in the Tarim basin in the centre of Asia, isolated from the West, India and China, by moutains in the north, west and south and deserts to the east. The oases situated in the south developed their own characteristic ways of life due to the variety of tribes, religions and cultures, and being on the silk road had various influences upon them. Their carpets and rugs are a striking and identifiable group, and the three known designated tribes from oases along the silk route are those of Yarkand, Kashgar and Khotan and all have distinctive elements in their designs, some of which were used across the centuries, and through the region.

The Yarkand weavings are unmistakable due to their very distinctive pared back designs and limited colour palettes, and combination of elements from Central Asia and China which are symbolic and still resonant. Traditionally they include two predominant designs, one being the ‘vase and pomegranate design’, the field with overall pomegranate boughs with small vases, and the other is the ‘medallion design’, with medallions against plain grounds (See lot 53, for a silk yellow and red example of a ‘vase and pomegranate design’, & lot 59 for an example of a ‘medallion design’ rug). Kashgar, at a major cross roads of the silk road, was a very influential centre for the arts, with sources derived from various cultural sources including India, Turkestan, Persia and China. The earliest Kashgar knotted pile weavings are believed to be from the late 17th/early 18th century, and the Mughal influence from India, and especially the lattice pattern, was represented in the silk carpets. See an especially lustrous and elegant example of a floral silk Kashgar carpet in this sale, lot 52.

Khotan administratively was a dependency of Kashgar, and it did not have a court to rival those of Samarkand (West Turkestan) or Herat (Afghanistan), but is recorded as having a favourable reputation as a manufacturing centre for gold, silk carpets, of floral rapport pattern, which according to Chinese accounts by Fu Ching in Chi-yi Hsin-pien, late 18th/early 19th century, were a sensation, and they had a distinct five blossom design. Khotan is represented in this sale by three smaller, early 19th century rugs, including distinctive examples from the ‘coffered gül pattern’, with ‘cloudhead’ motif, lot 45, a version of a yellow ground ‘gül pattern’ with rosettes (uncoffered), lot 82 and a version of the ‘Herat and floral pattern’ lot 86, in stylised borders including a version of the geometric recurring Buddhist swastika character, symbolic of good luck.

Bidder (1979): Bidder, Hans, Carpets from Eastern Turkestan, Washington International Associates, Tübingen, 1979, Chp.III, The Khotan Carpets, pp.43-85, C., 3, ‘The coffered gül pattern’, pp.57-64, p.69, figs. 10, 11, 11a, & 13, & plates XIV, 1 & 2.

Herrmann (1989): Herrmann, Eberhart, Asiatische Teppich und Textilkunst Band 1, Munich, 1989, pp. 128 & 129, no. 60.

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