Lot 58
  • 58

A pashmina cartouche compartment rug, probably Srinagar, Kashmir

18,000 - 25,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • wool, pile
  • approximately 123 by 81cm; 4ft., 2ft. 8in.
Knot density: V: 22-23/cm; H: 18/cm; silk foundation

after a Safavid compartment design, of superlative fineness, probably intended as an exhibition piece


Sotheby’s, London, 13th April 1988, lot 84

Catalogue Note

The compartment distinctive design of the present rug, with its interlocking geometric star pattern comprised of radiating cartouches, enclosing and exotic animals, such as dragons, simurghs, Ch’i lins and phoenixes, incorporates design elements taken from Chinese and Islamic motifs. It is inspired by two recorded examples in museum collections, both from Central Iran, 15th or early 16th century, and considered to have originally been a pair. The first comparable is a complete carpet known as ‘The Baron Compartment with Dragon and Phoenix Carpet’, (800 by 400cm), wool pile on a silk foundation, in the Musée Historique des Tissus, Lyon, no.25.423 (Formerly S. Baron, Paris, 1893), and the other comparable originally woven from the same cartoon, is ‘The Robinson Compartment with Dragon and Phoenix Carpet’, first half 16th century, Iran (possibly Tabriz), (reduced in size 497 by 340cm), wool pile on silk foundation, asymmetrically knotted, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Frederick C. Hewitt Fund, 1910 -10.61.3). Similarities to the Safavid bookbindings have been noted, in the format and in the use of the Chinese cloud bands and Islamic cartouches as motif elements. The offered miniature rug is likely to be from an extraordinary group of 20th century Indian weavings. It has been executed with extraordinary dexterity, with a high knot count and small scale of the motifs. The presence of the pashmina wool suggests a Kashmir origin. The presence of elephants within the curvilinear compartments against the dark brown ground in the design may well be an Indian adaptation, for in the cited 16th century examples the same compartments have a spotted wild cat motif . The present rug is a copy of the shortened carpet in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  For comparable miniature compartment rugs, see Sotheby’s, London, 20th October 1993, lot 97, probably 1930 (105 by 79cm), knot density V 17-19/cm: H 16/cm, and another example with a finer knot count, in the same auction, Sotheby’s, London, 20th October 1993, lot 109, after 1928, (129 by 75cm), knot density V 19-20/cm: H 18/cm This piece also had a label stating that it was made by Mohd Rahim for C.M. Hadow & Co. in Srinagar, in Kashmir, which was a factory know particularly for copies of Polonaise rugs. Carpets of this group are represented by their extremely high knot counts (V 15-16/cm: H 18/cm). The Metropolitan carpet was first illustrated by John Kimberley Mumford, in The Yerkes Collection of Oriental Carpets, 1910, pl.XXV, and the Lyon example was published in 1900 by the director of the museum, Raymond Cox. It was then possible to produce cartoons, and a number of copies were produced in different locations, including several factories in India, and they were possibly produced in jail or private workshops, in Agra, Lahore and Amritsar. It was noted in government sponsored reports on Indian weaving in the late 19th and early 20th century, of the occasional use of pashmina wool at this date, and that examples are ‘excessively rare’ (see Marketplace, Hali, 39, pp.92-93). It is highly probably that this piece was intended as an exhibition piece.

For a carpet offered in this sale, taken from the design of a famous pair of 16th century Persian, known as 'The Emperors' carpets', see lot 62.


Ian Bennett, ‘Splendours in the City of Silk, Hali, Issue 32, 1986, pp.42-48; Ian Bennett, ‘Splendours in the City of Silk, part 2 ‘The Safavid Masterpieces’, Hali, Issue 33, 1987, pp.38-49 and Ian Bennett, ‘Splendours in the City of Silk, part 3: ‘The Safavid Masterpieces’, Hali, Issue 34, 1987, pp.42-43, pl.XI, and p.103 (with structure analysis);
Brown‚ David J, ‘Carpets from the Hadow Factory in Kashmir’, Hali, 3/3, 1981, p.219;
Erdmann, Seven Hundred Years of Oriental Carpets, London, 1970, p.182, pl. XIX (detail);
Klose, Christine, ‘Traces of Timurid carpets in contemporary and later carpets from the Near East, pp.72-89, p.72, fig.1, frontispiece, & Safavid carpets with cartouche patterns, pp.82-86, fig. 26, Thompson, Jon, Shaffer, Daniel, Mildh, Pirjetti, (ed), Carpets and Textiles in the Iranian World 1400-1700, Proceedings of the Conference held at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 30-31 August 2003, for The May Beattie Archive, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, in association with The Bruschettini Foundation for Islamic and Asian Art, Genoa, 2010;
Mumford, John Kimberley, The Yerkes Collection of Oriental Carpets, 1910, pl. XXV.