A SOUTH CAUCASIAN RUG WITH CHELABERD MEDALLION
late 18th/early 19th century
approximately 183 by 147cm; 6ft., 4ft. 10in.
With Eberhart Herrmann, 1987
Joost Ritman Collection, sold Sotheby's New York, 14 December 1995, lot 58
Ben Fernandes, Singapore
Christie's, London, 7 October 2014, lot 56
Antichi Tappeti dell'Anatolia e del Caucaso, exhibition, Turin, 1987, reviewed Hali, Issue 33, January-March 1987, p. 58
Philadelphia ICOC, 1996 (with Peter Pap)
Dragons with Red Tails, exhibition, Singapore, 2000, reviewed Hali, Issue 112, September - October 2000, p. 141
Hali, Issue 33, January - March 1987, p. 58
Herrmann, E., Seltene Orientteppiche IX, Munich 1987, no. 25, p. 66-67
Hali, Issue 85, March - April 1996, p. 135
Fernandes, B.J., A Weaver's Ode to Joy, Singapore 1998, p. 6
Hali, Issue 112, September - October 2000, p. 141
Belonging to a rare corpus of late 18th and early 19th century rugs, of which this is the only known blue-ground example, which link the 17th/18th century ‘Blossom’ and ‘Dragon’ carpets of Karabagh with the later ‘Chelaberd’ (also called ‘Sunburst’ and ‘Eagle’) rugs of the 19th century.
In addition to the present rug, the documented examples of this group include the following seven pieces, all of which have a red ground: (1) The Victoria and Albert Museum sunburst rug, (T264-1927) (Hali, vol. 3, no. 2, p. 99, fig. 7); (2) the rug in the National Gallery of Prague (illustrated in 'Exhibitions in Brief', Hali Issue 149, November 2006, p. 99; Kavkazske Koberce, Prague 2007 pl. 27 and on a Czech Republic postage stamp); (3) The Herrmann/Bortz/Fernandes Rug, Sotheby’s New York, 31 January 2014, lot 56 (see also Hali, Issue 179, Spring 2014, p. 132 ‘APG’, and for a full list of publication details for this and others in this list); (4) the rug formerly with James D Burns (James Burns, The Caucasus: Traditions in Weaving, Seattle, 1987, pl. 10; the cover of Hali, Issue 36; Thompson, J., Milestones in Carpet History. Tabibnia Milan, 2006, pp. 258 – 259, fig. 197); (5) the Richardson rug, whereabouts unknown, (Through the Collector's Eye: Oriental Rugs from New England Private Collections, Rhode Island, 1991, p. 18, fig. 4) (6) the Liambei rug, (Hali Issue 167, Spring 2011, p. 157, 'APG'); (7) the Bausback rug, a variant example, (Bausback 1978 catalogue, p. 203).
Whilst the rugs share a consistent field layout of a large blossom medallion with pendant palmettes flanked by vertical hooked forms and stylised plants or trees, the Liambei, Bortz and Burns rugs each have a ‘crab gul’ border familiar to us from very many later 19th century Kazak rugs, whilst the borders of the rugs in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Gallery of Prague relate to those of the present example, perhaps suggesting production in different workshops. A rare small format ‘Blossom’ rug, from the Estate of Robert Montgomery Scott, "Ardrossan," Radnor, Pennsylvania, sold Freeman’s Pennsylvania, 14 December 2006. Lot 926, for a record breaking price of $341,625, has a narrow floral border related to the guard stripe seen in the present lot. The 18th century 'Blossom' carpet in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Acc. No. 53.156 (with blue ground) has a border which could well be the prototype for the main border of the present lot. It also has identical dark blue and black narrow reciprocal guard stripes. Jon Thompson in Milestones, op.cit., Ch. 8, pp. 244 – 259, discusses the development of this design from the 17th and 18th Caucasian carpets, themselves a development from classical Persian models of the preceding centuries, and illustrates a ‘Blossom’ carpet, ibid., pl. 28, with large sunburst-type blossom medallions of the type which provided the model for these rugs.