The ‘vase and pomegranate design’ is one of the most distinctive designs of the East Turkestan carpet group and one of the oldest motifs, partly due to the symbolism of being associated with fertility, and consequently popular across the region in the decorative arts. The carpets were woven in both silk and wool piles, usually found with a blue field (occasionally yellow, ivory or red) with the overall ‘overlaid’ pomegranate and vase pattern, with three pronged leaves, and a distinct axis with symmetrical design, and archaic style border. There are slight differences in designs, sizes and contrasting colours, with the earliest pieces being a single pomegranate plant and vase in a narrow, sometimes white field, the rug by which the standard is set being an 18th century example in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London (Inv. 1883, 102 by 157cm: illustrated Schürmann (1969), p.168, No.88). In the stylistic development pieces of the 19th
century always have opposing pomegranate shrubs, and pair of shrubs emanating from vases at both ends, which face each other, as in the present example. For examples of early yellow ground, vase pomegranate pattern pieces, see a Yarkand carpet, 18th
century (410 by 201cm), and Khotan rug, 17th
century (265 by 117cm), with single pomegranate plant, see Bidder (1979), pp.43-85, 1., &, pp.49-53, figs. plates II & III. The present carpet has inner and outer borders influenced by traditional Chinese geometric fretwork patterns, and including the diaper pattern, and the interlocking 'T' pattern respectively.
This striking and elegant carpet on the yellow ground, is more unusual, and co-incidentally the dying methods for producing the distinctive yellow, involved using the husk of the pomegranate. It is therefore a rare example of its type, in this colour and of this size.
Schürmann (1969): Schürmann, Ulrich, Central Asian Rugs, Frankfurt am Main, 1969, Chp. III, East Turkestan Rugs, pp. 41-46, & 161, Plate 81, middle of 19th century
Spuhler (1998): Spuhler, Friedrich, The Thyssen –Bornemisza Collection, Carpets and Textiles, London, 1998, Carpets, East Turkestan silk carpets [48-52], pp.184-205, p. 200, No. 51, 19th century
Thompson (1988): Thompson, Jon, Silk Carpets and the silk road, Osaka, NHK Culture Center, Osaska, 1988, p.53, No. 51
Franses (1997): Franses, Michael, Fengruan rutan: Silk pile covers from Western China’, Fourth Hali Annual, London, 1997, pp.84-107, p. 106, fig. 28
Konig (1975): Konig, Hans, Beziehungen Zwischen den Teppichen Ostturkestans und Moghulindiens, “Festschrift fur Peter Wilhelm Meister, zum 65. Geburstag Hamburg, 1975, pp. 32-40, fig. 5
Bidder (1979): Bidder, Hans, Carpets from Eastern Turkestan, Washington International Associates, Tübingen, 1979, Chp.III, The Khotan Carpets, pp.43-85, 1., ‘The Vase-Pomegranate pattern’, pp.49-53, figs. 5 & 6, plates I-III