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N. 51 - Euro 22,00 - [email protected] - Poste Italiane s.p.a - Spedizione in abbonamento postale - D. L. 353/2003 (Conv. in L. 27/02/04 N. 46) art. 1 comma 1 DCB - Torino N. 1/ 2013 In this issue: Timurid rugs. F. Fiorentino. The Cypress, the Rose and the Parrot. B. Biedronska Slota. 51 21 st Year
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    COP GH51 1-2-3-4 ENGL:COP GH44 1-2-3-4 INGL 12-06-2013 18:29 Pagina 1

  • One of the few international magazines dedicated to

    textiles arts and the art of Oriental rugs,

    Reading Gherehopens a window

    on the world of rugs.

    Ghereh gives a voice to many elements of these ancients arts.

    Elements of beauty, harmony and peace.TORINO - C.so Vittorio Emanuele II, 40

    Tel. +39 011 817 23 86 - +39 011 817 80 93 - Fax +39 011 817 07 09e-mail: [email protected]


    Tappeti Antichi e ClassiciLaboratorio di Restauro e Conservazione Scuola di Tappetologia fondata nel 1984

    Ufficio Peritale - Perizie Legali ed Ereditarie Ghalibaf Museum (Museo del Tessitore)


    Sabahi GallerySince 1961Retro COP GH51 modif:COP GH44 1-2-3-4 INGL 12-06-2013 19:01 Pagina 2

  • The name Kerman immediately conjures up the splendour of thespring, a flowery weave of wool depicting flower beds, trees and rosegardens. This is the miracle effected by its skilled, patient craftsmen,for distant Kerman, mentioned by Marco Polo in the 13th century forthe quality of its yarns and for the legendary ability of the local spin-ners, rises on the edges of one of the most arid deserts of the world.And yet its rugs are the most flowery of the whole of the Orient, al-most as though the master weavers had wished to blot out the sad mo-nochrome nature and desolation of the landscape surrounding the cityby creating rugs full of light, joyous colours and thousand flowers andscents. This book pays homage to four generations of ustad designers,weavers, patrons and traders who have helped to spread the name ofKerman throughout the world and make it synonymous with splendourand refinement.



    KERMANby Taher Sabahi


    pubb kerman inglese:05 EDITORIALEnew 12-06-2013 16:03 Pagina 5

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    ISSUE N.51


    TIMURID RUGSFrom the Mongol hordes to decorated rugs (Part I)

    Francesca Fiorentino

    A detailed study of the development ofthe art of the rug under the dynasty ofTimur. Using rugs, ceramics, fabricsand miniatures, the author guides usthrough a packed analysis of historicaland cultural references.

    THE CYPRESS, THE ROSE AND THE PARROTPersian silk tapestries and carpets in Polish collections (Part I)

    A detailed analysis conducted with herusual scientific rigour by the Polishscholar, is transformed here into avoyage, following the strange routes fol-lowed by the images and colours fromold Persia to reach European fabrics.

    Beata Biedronska Slota

    01 SOMMARIO ENGL.qxp:ok02-3 SOMMARIO 42 12-06-2013 12:47 Pagina 2

  • 3NewsAn update on the latest events, exhibitions, awards andstudy days: previews of the forthcoming ICOC events ca-lendar, an award to the Fatiyeh family, the report of an ori-ginal exhibition held in London and then Turin, plus thedays Turins Museo di Palazzo Madama will dedicate tofashion and the restoration of textile articles of the 18thcentury in its collection.

    ExhibitionsImportant exhibitions in Rome, with a major event at thePalazzo delle Esposizioni about the Silk Road; in Vienna,with splendid British fabrics of the late 19th century; andin Washington, with contemporary art textiles in dialoguewith South-East Asian tradition.

    AuctionsThe results and exceptional items to go on sale in recentauctions dedicated to rugs and textiles.

    BooksA small and entertaining monograph on woad, the plantwhich provides the most precious of colours: blue. Thebook on Afshar rugs by Parviz Tanavoli will be of great in-terest to scholars and collectors.

    ChaykhanThe passionate tale of the complex restoration of a rare14th-century Japanese Taima-Mandala.






    CHAIRMAN & EDITOR:Taher Sabahi

    EDITOR IN CHIEF:Farian Sabahi

    ACADEMIC COMMITTEE:Murray Eiland Jr., Carol Bier,

    Jennifer Wearden,Siawosch Azadi, Wielfred Stanzer,

    Oktay Aslanapa, Feng Zhao,Beata Biedroska-Sota,

    Parviz Tanavoli, Jennifer Scarce.

    CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS:Beata Bedronska Slota, Francesca Fiorentino

    Natalie Kleber

    Copyright 2013, GHEREH INTERNATIONAL CARPET & TEXTILE REVIEW - TorinoAll right reserved. Unauthorised reproduction wholly or in part of text,

    photographs and graphic material herein is forbidden world-wide.Sub-section 27, Art. 2, law 549/95

    Poste Italiane s.p.a - Spedizione in abbonamento postale - D. L. 353/2003(Conv. in L. 27/02/04 N. 46) art. 1 comma 1 DCB - Torino N. 2/2008

    AUTHORISATION OF THE COURTS OF SALUZZO n. 127 del 3/2/93Opinions expressed in articles in this magazine are

    those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher.

    Printed: Tipografia Testa - Torino

    COVERThe Clark Sickle-Leaf. Vine scroll and palmette carpet,

    probably Kerman, South Persia. 17th century. The important and revered 17th century Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet sold

    by Sothebys New York for an astounding price of $33.8 million, a new worldauction record for any carpet by a significant margin. That price also establishes a new benchmark for any Islamic work of art at auction.

    ISSN: 1124-335X

    OUR OFFICE IS OPENMonday to Friday 3,30 - 7,30 p.m.

    C.so Vittorio Emanuele 40, 10123 Turin (Italy)Tel. +39 011 817 23 86 - 011 817 80 93

    Fax +39 011 817 07 09

    e-mail: [email protected]


    01 SOMMARIO ENGL.qxp:ok02-3 SOMMARIO 42 12-06-2013 12:47 Pagina 3

  • Ratzinger and Pope Francis in the Vatican. Accompanied by a splendid floral Kerman from southern Persia.

    01-EDITORIALE ING:05 EDITORIALEnew 12-06-2013 14:46 Pagina 6


    There is a close connection betweenart and politics. Persian art can indeedhave great political impact, to the extentthat is has prevented Iran from endingup like Iraq and Afghanistan, invaded bythe US-led coalition. Because it is the ci-nema, poetry and rugs to have ensuredthat the citizen of the Islamic Republic isnot identified with an unknown, alienworld, but has instead become a closer,recognisable individual in the Westernmind. Thus creating some sort of resi-stance to the idea of war on Iran.

    In recent months, newspapers havewritten quite a lot about the tenth anni-versary of the invasion of Iraq. In thesame way, it is ten years now that Ira-nians have warily feared a possible US(and Israeli) attack with the pretext ofTehrans nuclear programme. And yet,despite the many threats, for the momentthe Islamic Republic seems to have avoi-ded repercussions. The factors that haveprevented another war in the MiddleEast are many, not least the engagementof the International Atomic EnergyAgency (IAEA) and the P5+1, meaningthe five permanent members of the UNSecurity Council plus Germany.

    Leaving diplomacy aside, another fac-tor that has saved Iran so far is its art. Asa famous filmmaker declared, if Iraqhad a cinema like Iran, it would not havebeen invaded. Iranian films had huma-nized the Iranian people to the West.Thus, they would not be seen as the'other' whose country Western troopswould invade. Consider Abbas Kiarosta-mis feature film, Where is the friendshouse (1987), in which the little Ahmaddoes everything he can to return an exer-cise book to his schoolfriend to preventhis being punished for the loss. And the

    more recent A Separation by the 40-year-old Asghar Farhadi, which won the Gol-den Bear in Berlin and an Oscar in 2012as best foreign film. Set immediately afterthe controversial presidential elections of2009, this film offers an image of the Ira-nian society that is not so very differentto the Western model: in Tehran too,couples separate, the old suffer fromAlzheimer, adults work and have tomake use of carers for their ageing pa-rents.

    Poetry has played a leading role inspreading a positive image of Iran: theseverses by the Persian poet Sadi (AD1184 -1291) became a motto and deco-rate the United Nations building en-trance in New York:

    The sons of Adam are limbs of each other,Having been created of one essence.

    When the calamity of time affects one limbThe other limbs cannot remain at rest.

    If you have no sympathy for the troubles of others,

    You are unworthy to be called by the name of a Human.

    Within this context, the textile artsalso have an important role to play. It iscertainly less conditioned by politics, butthe rug remains the most significant am-bassador of Persian culture. Because inthe living rooms of millions of Wester-ners, Persian rugs represent the linkbetween two different yet close worlds,and every day heads of state (Pope inclu-ded) walk on and cannot but admire theprecious artefacts bequeathed by theirforebears.

    Farian Sabahi


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  • 7TIMURID RUGSFrom the Mongol hordes to decorated rugs

    Francesca Fiorentino

    he fierce, charismaticwarrior, Timur (1335-1405), a descendant

    of Gengis Khan, sought to re-vive the earlier empire, and byhis death had reunited Tran-

    soxiana, Iran, Azerbaijan, theCaucasus, Georgia andnorthern India. He broughtthe heirs of his Mongol fore-bears to the peak of politicalsuccess and gave the nomads


    Part I

    Fig. 1. Above, Seljukid art, E. Kuhnel, The Arabesque, Graz 1949.Fig. 2. Below, Ilkhanid tile rug,Shahnameh Demotte 1330/1335Tabriz.

    Born in Padua (Italy) in 1963, where she studied music, she completed her higher studies in thepractice of ancient music in Amsterdam. She is a graduate of the humanities and philosophy, with athesis in the history of art criticism. In recent years, she has been studying the figurative language ofOriental rugs and has dedicated herself to making this noble art more widely known.

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  • the notion of an empire inwhich to feel proud.The first Mongol hordes hadswept the Turkish dynasty ofthe Great Seljukians (1037-1187) out of Persia, wherethey had adopted Persian cul-ture and laid the bases for me-dieval Islamic art. The princi-pal decorative elements of theSeljukian style were to persistin many areas in which knot-ting rugs was undertaken.These include monumentality,a decorative calligraphic style,large knots interwoven in a va-riety of ways, repeated tile mo-tifs, a love for the depiction of

    flora and fauna, and thespread of Kufic writing withinthe decorations and frames.(Fig. 1). The dynasty establi-shed itself in Anatolia (1060-1308), encountering the By-zantine Greek and Armeniancivilisations on the way. Thesenomadic warriors broughtwith them the strong imagesof the Asian steppes, whichwould intermingle with the lo-cal traditions.The following Mongol dyna-sty, the Ilkhanids (1252-1335), chose Tabriz as capitaland worked to govern and in-tegrate better with the conque-

    red populations, embracingIslam, reducing the practice ofnomadism and embracingPersian culture and traditions.The fruitful cultural activity ofthe Tabriz scriptorium, and inparticular the numerous tran-scriptions that began to beproduced there of the Shahna-meh, Ferdowsis classic of Per-sian literature, are proof ofthis. Tabriz also witnessed therevival of Persian paintingthanks to the influence of Chi-nese painting, which arrivedfrom the Orient with the con-querors. The new naturalismin depicting nature and hu-man forms, the dazzling co-lours, the flow and elegance ofthe brushstrokes also providedthe base for the Timuridschool of miniatures, whichconstitutes a fundamentalsource for the art of the pe-riod.

    RUGS BEFORE THE RISE OF TIMURThe first group of uniformrugs to date from the MiddleAges come from the Anatolianmosques of Konya and Bey-shehir. For some scholars, theterm Seljukian indicates anAnatolian manufacture, whilefor others it defines the periodof origin and a broader geo-graphical source.These knotted rugs reveal amarked taste for geometry inthe decoration of small

    Fig. 3. Seljukid rug, detail, Trk ve Islam Eserleri Mzesi,Istanbul.



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  • hooked medallions, rows ofstylised flowers, lozenges withstelae, S motifs, crosses andanimal figures. The highly sty-lised nature of the drawing ishighlighted by the broad fra-mes which, together with thesmall geometric motifs of thenarrower borders (S, stelaeand serpentines) in whichstand out the a greca andboxed motifs and squares de-corated with geometric formsand the typical arrow or her-ringbone elements borrowedfrom Kufic calligraphy. Strongcolour contrasts animate thebands and field, while the de-corations appear in more deli-cate tones. They are large insize and bear witness to a cere-monial or religious function. Afragment preserved in theState Museum of Saint Peter-sburg (no. IR. 2253) attribu-ted to Iran and the first half ofthe 13th century supposedlyreveals the existence of themultiple prayer saf layout.We know from contemporaryArab historians that theseknotted rugs were requestedand exported as far away asthe Orient, where Islam hadspread but where earlier cultu-ral traditions still survived.

    Their decorative language wasintended to be easily under-stood, as it resulted from a fu-sion of Islamic notions, in theform of geometric elements,with a wide variety of pre-Isla-

    mic elements. And in particu-lar with Sassanid ones whichsurvived during the Arab ca-liphate of the Buwayhidi (cen-tral and western Persia), of theSamanids (Transoxian Persia)and of the Turko-Mongol ico-nography that had spreadfrom east to west.In the 14th century, polygonalforms emerged in Anatolia, setin patterns with animals (dra-gons, phoenixes, lions andbirds), which seem to reflect amedley of Greco-Byzantine,Chinese and Persian tradi-tions, together with the an-cient animalistic art of theAsian steppes and of the local



    Fig. 4. Above, diagram ofTimurid rug, from A. Briggs,Timurid carpets, Ars Islamica,Vol. VII.Fig. 5. Right, Geometric designof a ceramic tile. K. Critchlow,Islamic patterns, Thames andHudson 1999.

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  • Iranian and Anatolian cultu-res. Konya and Aksaray werefamous centres of rug-produc-tion.Decorations similar toSeljukian ones, with tilesadorned with infinite knotsand Kufic borders may befound in pictures of the Ilkha-nid period in Persia. Espe-cially good examples includethe miniatures of the Shahna-meh Demotte (Fig. 2),perhaps produced for the lastIlkhanid sovereign, Abu Said(1316-1335), in the scripto-rium of Tabriz, and in the con-temporary Kalila va Dimna byAhmad Mousa, the reviver ofPersian painting.Recently, Julia Bailey hasfound a link between some

    Demotte miniatures and agroup of fragments that ap-peared on the market in the1990s from Tibet. They pre-sent borders of a Kufic designand large octagons containinganimals with the same animalin smaller form within. Theforms are highly stylised and aclose similarity in the bordersand in the use of colour wasdiscerned with the miniatures.A large fragment was acquiredby the Doha Museum of Qa-tar, another by the Metropoli-tan, and the others are in pri-vate collections.The successors of the Ilkha-nids, the Jalayiridi of Baghdad,also left fine miniatures,thanks to Shams al Din, thepupil of Ahmad Mousa, in

    which J. Thompson has notedthe presence of two geometricmedallion rugs.Written sources list the centresof knotting as being in Luri-stan, Mazandaran, Khorasanand Fars: in Shiraz in 1295Ghaza Khan Ilkhanide com-missioned new rugs for hismosque.This is just a brief overview ofrug production until the ar-rival of Timur, a productionwhich it is assumed was re-served for the highest strata ofsociety and religious build-ings.



    Fig. 6. Kesi,Western Iran or Iraq, first half 14th century,The David Collection, Copenhagen, Denmark.

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  • ART AND RUGS AT THE TIMEOF TIMURThe warrior king was wellaware how culture could beused to fulfil his desire of aunited kingdom, binding to-gether varied cultural tradi-tions into a single nation thatwas not yet perceived by thenomads living in it as theirhome. He encouraged thecreation of cities, oases andgardens in which the nomadcould halt, discover theirbeauties and gradually inte-grate.He encouraged patronage ofthe arts and invited craftsmenof various origins, from Arme-nia to China, to create a sort ofinternational style unitingthe different traditions. Centreand province were united inthe same effort, but the mostimportant role was played bythe workshops of the royal li-brary (kitabkhana), in whichworked the most skilled craft-smen, first at Samarkand, thenat Herat and finally in other,more peripheral, courts, suchas Shiraz and Tabriz. Herat,the pearl of Khorasan hadfor some time been a culturalcapital to which artists andelite travelled to study; amongthese were the Seljukians andTurkmen Kara and AkKoyunlu of Tabriz.Timurs heirs were cultured,refined sovereigns who crea-

    ted sumptuous courts thatcompeted in artistic produc-tion, leading in the 15th cen-tury to a more mature and re-fined style, one more variedand harmonious, as demon-strated by the most admiredcopy of the Shahnameh, com-missioned in 1429-1430 byBaysonghor, governor of He-rat. Under the last Timurid so-vereign, Husayn Bayqarah, thesame Herat court created un-surpassed works throughoutthe 16th century and trainedone of the most famous Per-sian painters, Behzad, who inthe second decade moved tothe court of Shah Ismail I Sa-favid of Tabriz.Conforming to precise in-structions, the royal libraries

    perfected and codified an offi-cial artistic idiom in line withPersian cultural tradition,using its literary texts and de-corative forms. Miniaturists,painters, book binders, skilledmasters of intarsia and inta-glio, designers of ceramics, fa-brics and textiles worked to-gether to create luxury for acourt that surrounded itselfwith all sorts of delights. Thespecialisation of the crafts tookplace later on in the Safavidworkshops (karkhana). This language spread throu-ghout the vast empire, at thesame time leaving room for in-dividual creativity, so that eachschool stood out with its owncharacter.It is also worth mentioning the



    Fig. 7. Ceramic tile from Kashan, Ilkhanid period.

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  • influence of Chinese art. Al-ready important in Seljukianart and in the revival of Per-sian painting, it pervaded Ti-murid artistic expression withits refined naturalism offlowers, plants and animals,with its supernatural icono-graphy, and with its motif of aset of colours, used in a my-riad ways . These elements toowere absorbed and codified inthe new artistic language withtouches of pyrotechnical vir-tuosity typical of a continualexperimentation and codifica-tion. Generally, their symbolic

    value was transformed intopure decoration, although itseems possible that some sym-bols of supernatural andearthly power were used withtheir precise meaning forobjects of official ceremony. Itis interesting to recall that atthe time, thanks to the fre-quent ambassadorial exchan-ges with the Ming kingdom, averitable passion for chinoise-ries had developed.It is reasonable to supposethat the art of the rug was cul-tivated in Timurid reigns as aform of furnishing typical of

    Oriental populations and as asign of opulence and power,but to date only a few rarefragments attributed to thisera have been found. Writtensources also have little to sayin this regard: G. Barbarospeaks of the splendid rugs atthe court of Ak Kuyunlu inTabriz, while an ambassador,Ruj Gonzalez del Clavijo, whovisited the court of Timur in1404, described some rugsused to cover the kang, thewooden daises typical of ho-mes in Turkestan.In the miniatures of Shirazand Herat, as in the Turkmenones of Tabriz, we often findornaments placed on floorsand gardens to welcome thecharacters of Persian literatureor of the court, such as cu-shions, curtains and decoratedpavilions. The stories of theShahnameh, of Shirin andKhosrau, of Leila and Majnunand of the Khamseh were in-corporated by the dominantsovereigns and made contem-porary. We thus find settingscontemporary to the period ofcompilation, with a highly na-turalistic depiction of detailsas regards architecture, gar-dens, interiors, decoration,everyday objects and furni-shings. Luckily for us, rugsare always shown frontally,without deformation as a re-sult of perspective and



    Fig. 8. Floral all-over rug, Khamseh, Shiraz school, 1491.

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  • showing a great deal of detail.Miniatures have also shownthemselves in some cases to bereliable sources, as in the caseof the hunting rug in BostonMuseum, which found its fi-gurative references in these, asis also the case for some deco-rated tiles found in reality.By convention, since the stu-dies of Lessing, Martin andBriggs, Timurid rug designshave been assumed to havebeen gleaned from contempo-rary miniatures. Two principaltypes of decoration haveemerged: the first with repea-ted geometric forms, the se-cond with floral decoration.


    This type conventionally re-presents the oldest rugs, da-ting from the first half of the15th century, and also formsthe most numerous and wide-spread group. The group be-trays the evident influence ofthe decorative style that mayalso be found in the ceramicsfacing public and private buil-dings, and in intaglio in woodand stucco, but it also showscontinuity with earlier rugs.The technique of ceramic fa-cing developed in Islamiclands in the 15th century rea-ched new heights of beautyand complexity thanks to the

    application of mathematicaland geometrical principlesand to the design work ofcourt workshops (Fig. 5). Thedecorative motifs are genera-ted by an interconnection ofcircles, square, stars and otherforms in conformity withclearly-established rules. Therepetition of the motif usingan algorithmic method beco-mes the source generating theoverall decoration, as notedby Carol Bier in her studies ofthe use of mathematics ap-plied to the designs of Orien-tal carpets.

    The tiles may be of differentform: cruciform, square, hexa-gonal and triangular. The de-sign may be enriched witharabesques of small plantforms; it may be enclosedwithin a single tile or be crea-ted by matching or inter-locking tiles. The unusual mo-saic effect (C. Bier aptly usesthe word tesselation, derivedfrom the Latin opus tessela-tum, or mosaic) is achieved byusing various colours in thesmall portions of surface ob-tained by interlocking the pie-ces. The carefully planned ch-


    Fig. 9. Medallion rug with pen-dents, school of Herat, secondhalf 15th century.


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  • romatic alternation creates anegative/positive effect high-lighting the numerous geome-tric forms resulting in a some-times kaleidoscopic effect.This feature leaves no emptyor background spaces. Inbuildings, only some architec-tural features are faced in cera-mic tiles with floral arabesquedesigns: most of the surfaces

    are covered with a geometricdecoration.The rugs in question here pre-sent a similar decorative ap-proach. Usually, it is of a de-sign repeated infinitely, builtup of interweaving modules ofvarious lines, and thuswithout leaving any part of thesurface free of the actual pat-tern (Fig. 4). The field of the

    rug features circles, octagons,hexagons, crosses and starsthat are all interwoven withknots, timid floral elementswith little flowers, tendrils andclovers. In simpler designs,these take the form of repea-ted motifs with a more or lesscomplex outline. Simple floralelements, stars or crosses of-ten appear within these. Thepatterns may be more or lesscomplex according to the typeof setting. The main borderspresent decorative variants ofa broken-up Kufic type, re-composed in various waysinto basic elements: lines, lea-ves, flowers, tendrils andthorns or hooks. These ele-ments are used to create a re-peated motif along the wholeof the central band, whose de-sign frequently turns a perfect45 at the four corners. Thelesser borders reveal smalltendrils with buds and smallleaves, S motifs, simple mir-rored motifs and monochro-matic frames.The calculated play of colourscreates a final visual result thatis often based on apositive/negative effect and al-ternation of two decorativeforms. The colours are gene-rally intense and saturated(red, blue, yellow, green andlight-blue), and offer a con-



    Fig. 10. Above, medallion rug,Khamseh, 1491.Fig. 11. Opposite page, compartment rug, school of Herat, 1524.

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  • trast between the main bandand the field.However, the decorative possi-bilities offered by the vast em-pire must have been varied ifwe consider that the stylisticlanguage spreading out fromthe centres of power and fromthe court designers combinedwith the influences of the pro-venance of the rug-makers,the place of manufacture andthe patron, all of which addedspecific unique elements.Another layout of note is onewith multiple niches, as revea-led in a Khamseh of 1461 inTopkapi, Istanbul (Hazine761, fol. 106r) and illustratedby E.J. Grube (Notes on Deco-ratives Arts of the Timurid Pe-riod, Naples 1974). A Timuridminiature of 1436 in the Bi-bliothque Nationale in Paris(in J.J. Eskenazy, Il tappetoorientale, Allemandi 1987, p.65, fig. 53) shows a nichelayout with clover-leaf arch si-milar to that of the fragment ofa saf attributed to 15th/16th-century Persia in a private col-lection (ibid., fig. 54). The ol-dest design with vertical lines,called moharramat and depic-ted in Ilkhanid miniatures, ap-pears instead to disappearfrom rugs in a slow process, asdoes the pattern with medal-lions containing animals.

    COMPARTMENT RUGSThe layout consisting of over-laid compartments (Fig. 11)may be included in the transi-tional phase between geome-

    tric and curvilinear forms, ba-sed not so much on geometricinterconnections as on theoverlay of large geometricforms. Very rare in the firsthalf of the century, (for exam-ple, in a Kalila va Dimna byAbul Maali Nasrollah, Herat1429, in the Bibiliothque Na-tionale, Paris), this becomesmore frequent in the secondhalf of the century and in par-ticular in the works of Behzadand his pupils, appearing atthe same time in rugs and co-verings for pavilions.The pattern seems to be morefocused on the delineation offorms than on the kaleidosco-pic positive/negative effect,or on an all-over design, gi-ven that the forms becomeconsiderable larger, thereby at-tenuating the effect. Thislayout, also called compassand ruler (J. Thompson) hi-ghlights the curved pattern ofthe circle and oval combinedwith the straight lines of rec-tangles and squares; there arefewer knots at the meetingpoints. The alternating use ofcolours in the surfaces createddefines new cartouche forms,as in the earlier layouts (rolled,spiral and oblong), and me-dallions (with four lobes).The major new feature of thistype of rug is the widespreaduse of floral decoration in theform of short, curved tendrils,buds, cloverleafs and curvedleaves, as described abovewith regard to tiles for buil-dings and in other artistic me-

    dia, and which belong to theinternational Timurid style;these are always bound to-gether in ordered, symmetricalcompositions around onepoint and adorn all the spacescreated by the overlays in a co-lour that always contrasts withthe background. They are of-ten enlivened by bright, dazz-ling colours: light blue,orange, yellow, light green andblue, while the lives are ivoryin colour, edged with two darkoutlines. The border is alwaysof a Kufic sort.


    By convention, floral and cur-vilinear decorations are attri-buted to the second half of thecentury, but there are also pre-cocious examples, as in thecase of the rug with floral ara-besques and Kufic bordershown in the Chahar Mahal of1432, commissioned by Bay-songhor, today preserved inthe Turk ve Islam Eserleri inIstanbul (1954, fol22r) and il-lustrated by B. Gray (PersianPaintings, Geneva 1961). Rugswith floral decoration appearin the famous Shahnameh byBaysonghor of 1429, and inother works of the schools ofHerat and Shiraz, includingthe forms by Behzad and hispupil, Qasim Ali, at the end ofthe Timurid reign.Al Hassouris reconstructionsin his Carpets on Miniaturesshow how the transition tothis type of rug took place in



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    a series of steps (Fig 12, AlHassouri drawing, carpets).Small changes made it possi-ble not to abandon traditionin a single break. The firststeps were the greater use ofcurved, undulating lines intracing out a Kufic motif andits characteristic elements:flowers, leaves, knots andtwists. The tendril bindingthem in a continuous se-quence is the precursor ofthe border herati. In thefield, instead, the curvilinearelement was stressed withthe inclusion of small circlesand knots that by naturecontour the curves andarabesques; the knots bindgrids, medallions and tilesand at times determine theiroutlines. A little later, daisieswith rounded petals wouldappear, followed by otherflowers and leaves, used todecorated the tiles that werereplacing the elegant lineartracery. The division intotiles, which soon became aproper grid, developed intoincreasingly curvilinear out-lines. The colours acquired alightness and gaiety that hadhitherto been absent.At times, the floral patterntakes the simple all-over formof arabesques with flowersand leaves, while at other ti-mes it accompanies single me-dallions or in a column, withsmall palms and corner areas

    created from a quarter of amedallion. It is never crow-ded; perhaps it was not yetpossible to knot in such a wayas to create the virtuoso deco-rations of calligraphy and or-namental drawing on paper.The field is filled with a freebut regular array of arabe-sques with flowers and leaves.Within the medallions, cornerareas and cartouches, instead,one can find a symmetrical

    construction adapting to theouter border, as in the clover-leaf motif that often underliesthe central medallion, and inthe regular rhythm of the ed-ging. The border often re-mains traditional, with a Kuficdesign.The field is in a contrastingcolour with the background ofthe principal motifs. Pink,pale yellow, light green andblue replace the darker tones

    Fig. 12. Disegn, in Carpets on Miniatures, by Al Hassouri.

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  • 02 tamerlano ENGL.qxp:09-23 ART 1 12-06-2013 14:44 Pagina 18



    of green, red and brown. Andin ceramic tiles, the same di-chotomy emerges: in repeatedmodules, the pattern is organi-sed into a symmetrical compo-sition, and in free spaces suchas over arches or in large deco-rative panels, the layout ismore freely arranged. The richborders of the pages in theQuran from the 13th centuryonwards instead constituted amagnificent test bed for com-plex constructions of arabe-sques gathered into a centralmedallion, in the borders andfour corners.

    THE THEME OF GARDENS IN RUGSIn these rugs, one can discernthe nascent theme of the gar-den. We know that gardensand parks were much loved bythe Timurid sovereigns, whoin this case too adopted a Per-sian tradition popular with theelite: the imperial Paradei-son. The broken thread of theloss of the Khosrau springwas about to be tied anew. Thecoincidence with the Islamicvision of the Garden of deli-ghts promised by Allahwould ensure the success ofthis theme.The curvilinear floral style thatdeveloped powerfully with thenew Safavid dynasty in Iranhad its roots in tribalism andwas associated also with thegreat empires of Persia and

    China, and the kingdoms ofEurope. The same holds truein Anatolia, where the fall ofthe beylik principalities resul-ted in the emergence of thenew Ottoman dynasty and anew type of carpet.The first Safavid sovereign,Ismail, intended to revive thePersian empire by creating aPersian national identity and anew imperial style, of whichrugs were a magnificent ex-pression. In order to do awaywith tradition, it was neces-sary to create something thathad never been seen before,something that was truly Per-sian. The legendary gardenrug of the last great Sassanidsovereign, Khosrau II, theBaharestan, fully expressed theconcept of Persian Paradeison,the kings garden, with itsmass of flowers, fruit andplays of water, together with ahunting park in which to de-monstrate imperial powerover men and nature. At thesame time, the curvilinear andfloral pattern was the only truenovelty in centuries as regardsthe decoration in rugs. It ena-bled the depiction of the newimperial content. Moreover, itsChinese stylistic origins, asso-ciated the new empire withthe mythical Catay.The first refined examples ofthese rugs were produced inthe new court of Tabriz, inwhich Behzad settled in thesecond decade of the 16thcentury. Over the next few de-cades, the pattern diversified

    into a fine complexity of me-dallion rugs, hunting rugs,rugs with overlaid grids andfloral rugs. The Timurid le-gacy can be discerned every sooften in the field and borders,with a cartouche motif, andwith the regular and calli-graphic flowery arabesque.There is no certainty that theminiatures described abovecame from the workshops ofthe Timurid courts, althoughit is hard to imagine that theproduction of such importantarticles would be left to outsi-ders. We may thus proceed byexclusion.Christine Klose indicated aneffective similarity betweenthe geometric grid-like geo-metric patterns and someAnatolian compartment rugs,such as the example in theVakiflar Museum, A-344,which Klose dated to the lastquarter of the 15th century,and with others with a doubleorthogonal and diagonal gridwith respect to the edge, as inthe case of a rug in a privatecollection in Manila, and ofanother in the Treasury ofSion cathedral in Switzerland(in J. Thompson, J. Bailey,W.B. Denny, Carpets and Texti-les in the Iranian world 1400-1700. Proceedings of the con-ference held at the AshmoleanMuseum, 30-31 August 2003,pp. 75, 76, figs. 5-8). Klose ri-ghtly stressed, however, that itwas impossible that the Per-sians had copied from theTurks.

    Fig. 13. Opposite page, small-pattern Holbein rug, private collection, 162 x 117 cm.

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  • There is also an undeniable si-milarity with the small-pat-tern Holbeins, in which thecombination of two repeatedmotifs and use of colour withchequerboard effect someti-mes appears (Fig. 13).Usually, however, the motifsare isolated from each other,allowing the single colour ofthe background to show, andthe Kufic border rarely has apattern enabling it to turn th-rough 45. Moreover, there isno precise geometric vision ofthe pattern. It has been sugge-sted that Holbein rugs mightbe a provincial transpositionof Timurid court rugs (J.Thompson). Michael Franses(Hali, 167, 2011, p. 86) alsonoted the similarity betweenthe small-pattern Holbeins,ceramic decoration and rugsin miniatures. In nearby In-dia, rugs were not yet beingproduced, while in the otherterritories to the east of theempire, there were no impor-tant courts justifying the pro-duction of rugs of such acomplex and refined pattern.As for Persia, historic sourcesstate that rugs were beingmade in Shiraz, which hadbeen an important culturalcentre even at the time of theIlkhanid dynasty. In western



    Fig. 14. Fragment of a Khorasanmedallion rug, second half 16thcentury, Metropolitan Museum of Art (Gallery 455, no. 191145).Fig. 15. Opposite, a Timuridminiature, Samarkand, ca. 1425-1450.

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  • Persia, Tabriz had been a cul-tural capital for some time,and during the Turkmen dy-nasties of the 15th century, wefind some fine miniature rugssimilar to the Timurid onesbeing produced there.With regard to Samarkandand Herat, which representedthe heart of the empire, weknow that the court work-shops worked on the designof every type of artistic article,but no information has survi-ved concerning the knottingof rugs.However, these articles requi-red a very clear guide beinggiven the knotter in the formof a master designer, and theclear reference to the decora-tive forms of ceramics andsome fabrics confirms theirpresence. The richest designsalso bear witness to great te-chnical skilling in knottingrugs, especially in the perfectresolution of the corners ofthe borders, which probablyrequired a direct involvementof the knotters during theplanning stage of the rug.Also necessary were materialssuited to such a high-qualityproduction, which could onlybe found in the richest work-shops.All this suggests a wide distri-bution of the international Ti-murid style, and a culturalcompetition between thekingdoms of the time, with aconsequent exchange facilita-ted by the constant toing andfroing of artists.


    Al Hassouri, Carpets on Miniatures,Farhangan Publications, Tehran,1997.

    G. Berchet, La Repubblica di Venesia e laPersia, Paravia, Turin, 1865.

    C. Bier, CarpetMath: exploring mathema-tical aspects of Turkmen Carpets, inJournal of Mathematics and theArts, 4, 1, 2010, pp. 29-47.

    C. Bier, Mathematical aspects of OrientalCarpets, The Textile Museum, Wa-shington DC, Symmetry Founda-tion, Digitizad, 2004.

    C. Bier, The Legacy of Timur; a small rugat the Textiles Museum, in Ghereh,9, 1996, pp. 98-101.

    A. Briggs, Timurid Carpets, Ars Islamica1940, 1946.

    C. Klose, in J. Thompson, J. Bailey, W.B.Denny, Carpets and Textiles in theIranian world 1400-1700, Procee-dings of The Conference Held Atthe Ashmolean Museum, 30-31August 2003.

    S. Kozin, La storia segreta dei Mongoli,

    Longanesi, Milan, 1973.T. Lentz e G. Lowry, Timur and the Prin-

    cely Vision. Persian Art and Culture inthe Fifteenth Century, 1989.

    J. Lessing, Ancient Oriental Carpet Pat-terns after Pictures and Originals ofthe Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries,London, 1879.

    L.W. Mackie, A piece of the puzzle. A14th. or 15th. Century Persian Frag-ment, Carpet Revealed, in Hali, 47,1989.

    F.R. Martin, A History of oriental carpetsbefore 1800, Wien, 1908.

    N.E. Simakov, Lart del lAsie Centrale,Recueil de lArt Decoratif de LAsieCentral, St. Petersburg, 1883.

    F. Spuhler, Islamic Carpets and Textiles inthe Keir collection, London, 1978.

    F. Spuhler, Carpets and textiles, Cam-bridge Hist. Iran VI, 1986.

    D. Walker, Carpets of Khorasan, inHali, 149, 2006.

    The Richard E. Wright Research Reports,Bukhara and its Ersari, available on:http://www.richardewright.com/0908_bukhara.html.



    02 tamerlano ENGL.qxp:09-23 ART 1 12-06-2013 14:44 Pagina 21

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  • THE CYPRESS, THE ROSE, AND THE PARROTSilk Tapestries and Rugs fromPersia in Polish Collections

    o quote the phraseby Henri Focillon,at a certain period

    (ie during the reign of theSafavid dynasty), Persian artwas more universal than itwas local, more monumentalthan it was delicate, moretraditional than inclined to

    initiate new forms. UnderSafavid rule (lasting from1502 until 1736), the art ofPersia, drawing on the her-itage of past generations, at-tained perfection in manydisciplines; it also passed onto Europeans new artisticand formal inventions ren-dered in an idiom whichwould be understandable tothem. The full importance ofPersian arts contribution tothe development of theworlds artistic history isdemonstrated by the twomost distinctive characteris-tics, ones absent from the artof Europe. The first com-prises the consistent use ofunchanging forms, passedon to followers with only themost minor modifications;the other - in the fact that,the odd exception aside,most of the creators of thisart did not sign their works,remaining anonymous forever more.The artistic value accordedto Persian art and its role inart history are due not so

    TSection of tomb cover, silk multiple cloth, enriched with metal thread.The work of Ghiyat, Yazd, c. 1600, from tomb of ShaykhSafi, National Museum, Tehran.


    Part IBeata Biedronska Slota

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  • much to achievements in thetrue-to-life depiction of ob-jects but, rather, to the cre-ation of shapes which, while

    departing from those seen inactuality so as to make iden-tification just barely possi-ble, constitute their spiritual

    equivalents. These universalforms were used to renderimagined forms of consider-able refinement and beauty,achieving originality andfreshness by representing theperfect elegance of an unrealworld.Persian artists would sponta-neously render imaginedworlds which were oftenrooted in poetry and its un-derlying faith that beautyand goodness spring forthfrom the heart. The shapesand contours of these worldswere strong and definite, fullof vitality yet nonethelessconstituting a lyrical, deli-cate whole. A major subject,and a rich source of artisticinspiration, was provided bythe natural world of plantsand animals; in a variety ofrelations and arrangements,such motifs filled out thesurfaces of miniatures, car-pets, textiles, and of architec-tural decorations. Similarmotifs, this time in real life,would also be combinedwith ponds to create the fairytale landscapes of gardens a Persian art form in its ownright.

    Yet the beauty of Persian art

    Tomb cover, silk multiple cloth,enriched with metal thread. Inscribed: the work of Ghiyat,Yazd, c. 1600, National Museumof Tehran (235 cm).



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  • with all its innate logiccould, just as importantly,also be arrived at by way ofsophisticated intellectualspeculation, finding its ulti-mate expression in proudpoetry, in philosophy, or inmysticism. Persian artists didnot actually shun reality inorder to give form to theunimaginable music andharmony of the universe they partook in it by apply-ing in the representationalarts the principles whichgovern arithmetic, logic, andmusic. It is for this reasonthat the compositionalarrangements seen in theartistic handicrafts of Persiaare characterised by mathe-matically calculated intervalsof musical proportions andcounterpoint harmonies.The traditional arithmeticknowledge, as set out in thephilosophical writings of Is-lam, presents numbers andfigures as existing in threeforms, namely archetypes inthe divine intellect, in thehuman mind and, finally, asobjective beings. The variousartists answering to theircalling in Safavid Persia hadat their disposal a collectedbody of knowledge about the

    rules of arithmetic andgeometry and knew how toput them to good use. Ac-cordingly, Persian art, non-figurative on account of reli-gious injunction, was char-acterised by consistency andlogic. When determining thearrangement of composi-tional motifs, for instance,resort was had as, occa-

    sionally, in Europe to a gridwith square or rectangularfields delineated in keepingwith the golden rule of divi-sion. The application ofthese rules in the fine arts,however, was a result notonly of the proscription onimages of human and animalfigures, but also of a need torepresent a world of arche-



    Taffeta, brocaded, enriched withmetal thread. Isfahan, period of Shah Abbas I. PossessionRabenou.

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  • types. Hence the regulargeometric forms underlyingthe ornamentation of car-pets, providing a referencepoint for the various motifs;at the symbolic level, theyare nothing less than an in-vocation to God. For thenon-figurative geometric or-naments carry encodedmeanings which have ac-quired the role of an inter-mediary in the attempts atestablishing contact with theabsolute. The foremost rolegoes to the very structure ofthe motifs and to theirarrangements, constructed

    as they are in such a way thatone is tempted to substitutethem with numerical valuesin accordance with the prin-ciples of magic squares. Thesymbolic import associatedwith such squares makes fora good fit with any consis-tent effort at deciphering themotifs and their mutual in-terrelations.

    The overbearing wealth ofmotifs filling out carpets andavailable architectural space flowers, leaves,arabesques, Chinese plumedsnakes, chi clouds, waq-waq

    talking trees, palmettes,rosettes, all manner of beastsand fowls increases in linewith the complication of thecompositional arrange-ments. This is due to com-plication in the symmetricalprinciples which governthem. The phenomenon ob-served here is comparable toa musical crescendo; thecomposition, beginning withthe most simple one relyingon a single motif, becomesincreasingly complex withthe introduction of transla-tional symmetry and themultiplication of rhythmsupon diagonal axes. Themeaningfulness of thesearrangements lies not only intheir formal elegance, but above all in the fact thatthey render a world of ab-straction by way of composi-tions and of the rhythms andphrases contained in them.And herein lies the principleof absolutely pure decora-tion, an idea which hasnever been as much as ade-quately explained in theWest. It is for this reasonthat Persian art, usually readthrough its perfectionist for-mal elegance, is difficult tounderstand at its significa-



    Silk twill, enriched with metalthread. Isfahan, middle 17th century. Textile Museum of the District of Columbia.

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  • tive level. The art of Persiahas been described as aspiritual ballet of disembod-ied categories. This inter-pretative approach wasrooted in endeavours to de-cipher the composition ofminiatures and carpets con-stituting, each one in its ownright, masterpieces in the

    logic of artistic thinking nomere logic, but a logic offire, to use the beautifulterm by A.U. Pope. For theappearance of the colourfulflowers and fantastic animalsdepicted on carpets and tex-tiles with a gleaming silkbackground (oft enhancedwith gold or silver thread)changes constantly in re-sponse to the surroundinglight, and in accordance withthe perspective and sensitiv-ity of the viewer.The Safavid period in Persiawas one in which all the joys

    of life were held in high re-gard, a time of courtly man-ners; it was also a time suf-fused with the creative zestof the poets which also hadrespect for the developmentof knowledge. This was anepoch driven by a passionfor perfection in all realms ofthe arts. Only the poets facedhardship under the rule ofthe Safavids, with many ofthem forced to emigrate andto seek favour of the GreatMughals ruling India. Theutmost blossoming of Per-sian poetry had come much



    Silk compound cloth, enrichedwith metal thread. Kashan, 17th century, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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  • earlier, bringing forth a mul-titude of masterly pieceswhich have ranked amongthe finest of their sort eversince. Many of the standardiconographic motifs familiarfrom miniature painting,tapestries, and carpets hadbeen originally formulatedby poets writing a few cen-turies before, becoming partof the standard repertory of

    poetic images long beforetheir first graphic rendition.The motif of a parrot sittingin a rose bush, for instance,one frequently used duringSafavid times, had been de-scribed by Kisai of Marv(952 circa 1002): On aca-cias, nightingales / parrotson the wild rose / speakforth. In Persian art, theparrot, possessed as it is with

    the gift of articulation, sym-bolises the poet, and it is inthis symbolic capacity that itis oft evoked in figurative artand in poetry alike. Parrotson a Wild Rose is a collectivetitle given to a body of poeticpieces by the translator

    Wadysaw Dulba. The cy-press, in its turn, representsideal gracility of the bodyand loftiness of spirit, andthe narcissus the eyes.Roses and cypresses makefrequent appearances in thelyric poetry of Hafiz, whomade flowers one of his motrelied-upon symbols.

    The period of Safavid rule,the most important one indevelopment of Persian art,was not only an answer to ex-pectations of authenticchange in the arts, it was also and perhaps primarily alarge-scale development ofthe arts initiated by therulers. During the earlySafavid period, carpet-mak-ing, miniature painting, andornamental decoration of silkfabrics, architecture, and ofceramics all attained un-matched perfection. Themost accomplished patron ofthe arts was Shah Abbas I,known as the Great. Artists,



    Twill tapestry, silk and metalthread, detail. 16th century.Czartorysky Museum (275 x 212cm).

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  • their basic needs comfortablymet thanks to the generouspatronage of the court, wereat ease to develop their tal-

    ents, seeking ever more re-fined forms and developingthe world of the imagination.For all his love of the arts,Shah Abbas I did not neglectthe economic prosperity ofhis realm; it was under hisreign that Persia reached thepeak of her commercialpower. Thus, there existed aruling class with the desireto support development of

    the arts and the wherewithalto do so; it is for good reasonthat Persia of this time is re-ferred to in the literature asthe France of the East. Dur-ing the time of Abbas I, thecities of Tabriz, Kashan, Isfa-han, and the province ofKhorasan became famous fortheir workshops whichturned out the finest silks,velvets, and carpets. Among



    Printed or painted silk twill.Yazd, 17th century. CollectionMrs. W.H. Moore.

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  • the multiple gifts of ShahAbbas was a talent for intu-itive tapping of the potentialof the various elements con-stituting Persian society. Itcertainly is true that some ofthe Shahs policies are wor-thy of condemnation, like-wise that the building up

    and maintenance of hispower owed much to hiscorps of shah sevenler -those who love the Shah.Yet it is beyond dispute that,regarded as a whole, his ac-tivities during this time inPersias history were effectiveand brought many benefits

    to the land. Abbas I wasquick in appreciating thecommercial acumen of the



    Embroidery, darned in silk on cotton (so called musaif). Isfahan, 17th century. Collection Leigh Ashton.

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  • Armenian diaspora living inhis realm and to stimulate itsdevelopment. The prosperityof Persias Armenian com-munity, however, was pre-ceded by dramatic events inwhich the Shah also had hispart. In the course of thecampaign waged by hisarmies with the Turks, AbbasI ordered the destruction ofJulfa in Persia and Erevan inthe Caucasus, two majorcentres of the historic Arme-nia; after taking Erevan in1604, he put it to the torchand transferred its popula-tion to Persia. These unwill-ing migrants received land inthe vicinity of Isfahan onwhich they built a city, nam-ing it New Julfa. This newtown thrived at such a ratethat the period spanning theearly 17th and mid-18thcenturies is oft referred to asthe Renaissance of Armenianart and culture. Anotherthree thousand Armenianswho had to their credit expe-rience in the cultivation ofsilkworms were ordered tosettle in an agricultural re-gion; others from amongtheir compatriots weremoved west of the capitalwhere they could constitutea bulwark against the migra-tory Bactrian people. Size-able groups of expelled Ar-menians went to Rumelia,Kaffa, the Pont, Moldavia,and Wallachia each one ofthem useful way stations inwhich Armenian merchants

    travelling from Persia couldsafely stop and sell theirwares. Turning his attentionto the Armenian communityof Gilan, a silk-producingcentre, the wily Abbas drawing conclusions fromthe fact that these wereChristian inhabitants of anessentially Muslim Asia de-cided to turn it to his advan-tage in commercial expan-sion to the East and Westalike. He began by lendingthe Armenian merchants ofNew Julfa a quantity of silkfor sale abroad; they were topay the court treasury upontheir return, retaining theprofit for themselves. Forproof that this experimentwas a successful one, weneed look no further thanthe various European collec-tions which hold large quan-tities of silk textiles and car-pets from Persia. Events fol-lowing later are known to usfrom eyewitness accountssuch as those by Jean Bap-tiste Tavernier (1605-1689).This French traveller wrotethat, by the latter half of the17th century, Persian Arme-nians were venturing as farafield as Tonkin, Java, andthe Philippines to all theprincipal conurbations ofthe world at that time savethose in China and Japan.The Armenians put in placea network of trade connec-tions spanning the Far Easton the one end and Europe with the hubs of Venice and

    Marseilles on the other,progressing through India,New Julfa, Tabriz, Aleppo,and Izmir. According to JeanPitton de Tournefort, an-other French traveller writ-ing in 1717, thanks to theArmenians All the wares ofthe East were known in theWest, and those from theWest were renowned forgracing the East.

    And it was in this way principally through the Ar-menian tradesmen thatPersian art, representedmainly by carpets and silktextiles, became knownaround the world. It reachedPoland in exactly the sameway, and the fact that Ar-menian merchants had beenactive in Polish markets forsome time before only madethis easier. Persian carpetsand textiles as testified toby accounts from the time would arrive in large quanti-ties. Armenian commerce inPoland was regulated by reg-ulations which seemed tofavour the Armenians ofLvov; in the 17th century,their existing trading privi-leges were not only affirmed,but also expanded. Klonow-icz has written of Armenianmerchants who brought toLvov expensive fabrics wo-ven in silk and cotton, fin-ished in gold and silver. In-ventories listing the assets ofmerchants, noblemen, andburghers from Lvov make



    03 BEATA ENGL.qxp:09-23 ART 1 12-06-2013 14:58 Pagina 31

  • frequent reference to piecesof Persian metria with goldand silver, Persian kontushand zhupan garments, andPersian upholstery be iton a carmine-coloured vel-vet background, with flow-ers and gold... 20 gores orgreen Persian upholsterywith gold and silver. Thesesources also tell us of thegoods of one Lvov merchanttravelling by caravan withone bale of silk. Othercities in the Polish common-wealth also kept up a brisktrade with the East. The con-current coming into fashion,as of the mid-17th century,of noblemens attire mod-elled after Oriental garb aswell as of all and sundry arti-cles from the East combinedto bring about a state of af-fairs where such goods ac-counted for a sizeable por-tion indeed of all importsinto Poland. Silk fabrics, forinstance, accounted for ap-proximately 40% of allgoods arriving via the cus-toms chamber in KamieniecPodolski. For this customspost alone, the annual im-portation of silks fromTurkey (many of which, pre-



    Floral carpet from the mau-soleum of Shah Abbas II atQumm, Jawshqan Qali.

    03 BEATA ENGL.qxp:09-23 ART 1 12-06-2013 14:58 Pagina 32

  • sumably, originated in Per-sia) exceeded 6 620 piecesvalued at 10 672 zloties.There were also many ship-ments of finished productssuch as ordinary curtainswith gold thread. Duringthe same year, imports ofPersian carpets and of theless expensive Turkish onesamounted to 151 pairs.Most of the carpets broughtto Poland by Armenian mer-chants in the early 17th cen-tury were of the silk threadvariety which would eventu-ally become known as Polishcarpets. Such carpets were astaple product of Persianworkshops during the reignof Shah Abbas I. They are afine example of impressiveartistic effect relying on con-summate mastery of tech-nique. The employing of del-icate silk threads of varied,subtle colours meticulouslytied in dense knots some-times upon a silk warp yielded amazing effects. Por-tions of the carpets back-grounds were left flat, cov-ered with gold or silverthread applied in the bro-caded weft technique. Inconjunction with the silk

    pile, this produced an inter-play of light and shade react-ing to even a slight change inlighting. The gold and silverused in such carpets had tobe of good quality so that itdidnt lose its sheen. Carpetsof this sort were made inKashan, Tabriz, and in Isfa-han. It was to these cities with special emphasis onKashan that King ZygmuntIII Vasa sent his envoy, theArmenian Sefer Muratowicz,

    on a diplomatic mission,with the secondary assign-ment of purchasing carpets,belts, and arms. In the ac-count of his journey (com-menced in 1601), Muratow-icz wrote of the said greatcity of Kashan. There, I hadmade for his Majesty theKing silk carpets woven ingold, likewise a tent, dama-scene sabres, etc.The textiles ordered by Mu-ratowicz arrived at the royal



    Section of silk medallion and animal carpet. Kashan. 3rd quarter 16th century. PolishGovernment, exhibited VillaWillamove, Warsaw (Formely

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  • castle in the year 1602. Theycomprised two pairs of car-pets, 40 crowns each, to-gether 160 crowns; two car-pets at 41 crowns, together82 crowns. For executionupon them of the royal arms,5 crowns; two more carpetsat 39 crowns for 78 crowns.But these items were not toremain at the royal castle forlong. Come 1642 and themarriage of Anna KatarzynaKonstancja Vasa, the daugh-ter of King Zygmunt III, toPhilip Wilhelm von der PfalzWittelsbach, Elector ofBavaria, the textiles commis-sioned in Kashan travelled toMunich among the baggageof the princess; they remainthere to this very day in thecollections of the Old Castle.In one of these carpets, thecentral field carries the royalinsignia presumably put infor the aforementioned priceof 5 crowns. All these car-pets are flat-woven in thetechnique used by Euro-peans to make tapestries;their colour scheme andcomposition, however,places them among the Per-sian carpets referred to asPolish.

    Similar textiles were used forgood effect throughout thePolish Commonwealth fordecorating interiors, accord-ing added splendour to resi-dences and to their ownersalike. During the World Ex-hibition of 1878, Prince

    Wadysaw Czartoryski in-cluded among the highlightsof his collection exhibited atthe Polish Hall of the Tro-cadero Palace seven silk car-pets brocaded with gold andsilver. It was probably onthis occasion that the termPolish carpet was coined; thecarpets were shown at thePolish section, and it appearsthat at least some of themwould carry the Czartoryskicoat of arms.

    Of the large number of silkcarpets once held in collec-tions across Poland, onlytwelve have survived to thisday. This number, however,is not a definite one. In re-cent years, two carpets wereadded to the list one iden-tified in the Wawel Cathe-dral holdings, the other re-turned to the CzartoryskiPrinces Collection after be-ing looted by the Germansduring World War II. Theprovenance of most of whatare known as the Polish car-pets is thoroughly docu-mented. The one from theDiocese Museum in San-domierz is traditionally be-lieved to be a gift made byKing Jan III Sobieski to theChurch of the Virgin MaryKnown for Grace inStudzianna as a votive offer-ing upon his safe return fromthe Vienna expedition. Threecarpets originate from theCzartoryski collections; twomore have long been the

    property of the JagellonianUniversity. One of the twocarpets now at the NationalMuseum in Warsaw comesfrom the holdings of theRadziwi family; anothersuch carpet forms a part ofthe Wawel Cathedral collec-tions. Two more belong tothe Wawel Royal Castle, oneof them purchased for itscollection after World WarII; the National Museum inPozna has also purchasedtwo carpets.The number of what areknown as Polish carpets pre-served around the world ap-proaches two hundred. Mostof them are different, withtheir own unique patterns;the pairs of identical carpetsexecuted to the same designare rare. These individualtraits notwithstanding, allthese carpets bear some ba-sic affinity to one another asregards the technique of exe-cution, the colour schemes,and the composition basedon flower and plant motifsarranged in keeping with theprinciples of geometry. As al-ready mentioned, all realmsof Islamic art were subordi-nated to the basic rules ofgeometry and arithmetic.The composition of carpetswas essentially an open one,meaning that it could be ex-panded or contracted at will;there are several rules ofsymmetry which were ap-plied on a consistent basishere. There are those carpets



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  • whose design conformedwith the rule of mirror sym-metry, with reflections run-ning along a single verticalaxis only. The second groupcomprises carpets wheremirror images appearedalong the horizontal axis aswell as the vertical one, withtranslational symmetry com-ing into play. There wereseveral different ways inwhich these principles couldbe applied, depending onthe definition of the axes andthe number of motifs. Thethird group is formed by car-pets of closed composition,utilising the principles ofmirror symmetry and of rev-olution symmetry. The basicsystem for deployment ofmotifs across the surface re-lied on its grid-like divisioninto squares, rectangles,polygons, and other figureswhich could be delineatedthrough division of an areaobtained by drawing out ver-tical and horizontal lines atcorrect intervals. The areasof carpets were defined bysides complying with thetheorems about squares andtheir diagonals. Such utilisa-tion of complex solutions inthe composition of carpets,progressing by all appear-ances beyond purely aes-

    thetic considerations, begsthe question of why all thistrouble was taken.The structures of the carpetfields are all derived fromthe basic form of the squareand, as stated above, compo-sitions were plotted throughdivision of their zones. Thus,they emerged through subdi-vision of central figures; itseems likely that they alsoassumed the symbolic im-port associated with centralfigures in the treatises writ-ten by Arabic authors

    labouring under the influ-ence of Greek philosophers,first and foremost that ofPlotinus, who regarded thecentral and hence mostperfect figures, the squareand the circle, as fitting sym-bols of the divine.It is presumed that the sym-metrical positioning of car-pet motifs carries hiddenmessages abut the world andabout the universe, incanta-tions for warding off evil,and invocations of the gloryof the Creator.



    Garden carpet, incomplete, Kurdistan, detail. 18th century.Collection Lord Aberconway.

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    t the end of the last ICOC Conferenceheld in Stockholm in June 2012, PeterBichler, the newly elected chairman of

    the scientific committee, closed the proceedingsby announcing the packed programme of inter-national symposia to be held in the followingmonths. We were already beginning to look for-ward to the ICOC Symposium in Prague,planned for the spring, but recently the ICOC or-ganisers informed all its members that the dateand venue of the Prague meeting were yet to bedefined.In actual fact, everything was ready: certainly theprogramme was, but for the venue too, confirma-tion was very close. Much work has been done inthese months and some information had alreadyemerged as regards the scientific content and ex-hibitions that generally surround the core ICOCevents. We can confirm that the theme of the

    Prague Symposium is to be entirely dedicated toOriental rugs in Czech collections. The exhibi-tions, instead, will make it possible to admire theTransylvanian rugs preserved in Prague Castle,and a fine selection of Mameluke rugs. The venue for these study days was supposed tobe the Prague Castle. An appropriate location notonly for its prestigious nature and unique archi-tecture, but also because it would have been thebest context from a philological point of view forthis international symposiums themes. Numer-ous valuable works of art, historic documentsand the jewels of the Bohemian crown are pre-served in the castle. Since 1989, many parts of ithave been opened to the public, and Prague Cas-tle is today also the seat of the Czech presidencyand the most important national cultural monu-ment of the Czech Republic.Unfortunately, a problem associated with politi-


    Venue and date yet to be defined


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  • cal events has prevented this happy event fromtaking place. In recent months, the Czech Re-public is readying itself for important presiden-tial elections, the first direct elections, whichhave taken place on 11th and 12th January2013. Everything has thus been focused on thisdelicate moment in the countrys history.So now it is just a matter of waiting. The organi-sation of the Symposium has probably just beenshifted a few months to the autumn of 2013,paving the way for the Vienna-Budapest ICOCTour in September 2014 and creating a subtlelink between the great cities of the former Aus-tro-Hungarian Empire.For the moment, the next appointment will be in

    Baku on the shores of the Caspian Sea for the VInternational Congress on Azerbaijani Carpets,to be held from 17th to 18th June, 2013. Twospecial exhibitions have been set up at the sametime. The first, Azerbaijani Dragon and relatedCarpets, allows visitors the chance to see an-tique Azerbaijani rugs on loan from internationalmuseums and private collections in a singlevenue. The second exhibition brings together thefinest masterpieces of the vast collection in theCarpet Museum of Baku (circa 6000 pieces),chosen from contemporary production and pre-senting both classical and non-traditional motifs.Plenty of news from the world of rugs for you,therefore!

    AFTER BLOOMSBURY: RUGS FROM THE OMEGA WORKSHOPS, 1913-1916Textile Art at Somerset House

    unique event was held last spring foralmost a month within the splendidneoclassical framework of Somerset

    House in the heart of London, between theStrand and the River. The exhibition in ques-tion was not large but innovative in concep-tion, with five contemporary rugs placed indialogue with the original designs. This is theunusual, new element that attracted our cu-riosity.Organised by Christopher Farr, a producer ofunusual contemporary rugs, and the Cour-tauld Gallery, the exhibition offered the publicthe chance to admire five contemporary rugsmade to the original designs of the OmegaWorkshop, produced almost a century ago.

    Christopher Farr is well-known to rug enthu-siasts for having opened a gallery specialisingin contemporary designer rugs. He hasworked with numerous artists and designersfrom around the world including fashion de-signer Romeo Gigli; the English artist KateBlee; architect and designer Andre Putman;





    Entrace of the Somerset House, the Edmond J.Safra Fountain Court Marcus Ginns.

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    artists Jorge Pardo and Gary Hume. His 20years of experience have restored dignity toartistic production and contemporary designin the field of rugs and textiles.Omega Workshop, instead, was an artists col-lective founded in Britain in 1913. Althoughit did not last very long, it did succeed in in-fluencing one of the most creative momentsin the history of modernist production anddesign in Britain. Founded by artist and critic

    Roger Fry, theOmega Workshopwas a radical work-shop of design ideas,which drew in manyof the avant-gardeartists of the time,and in particular twomembers of theBloomsbury set,Duncan Grant andVanessa Bell. In itsbrief period of activ-ity, the Omega groupproduced objects forthe home, furniture,textiles, ceramics,rugs and clothing.All marked by astrong design anddynamic, bold use ofcolour and pattern.The choice of coloursand motifs revealsthe influence of thecontemporary artworks then in voguein Europe, includingfrom the cubist andfauve movementsabove all, and thusartists like Picasso,Braque, Matisse, to-gether with influ-ences from Africanart. The OmegaWorkshops activitiesmainly took placeduring the FirstWorld War, for it

    closed in 1919, but the six years it was activesaw the creation of an impressive series ofhighly original designs, well in advance oftheir times. Their freshness is still able to ex-cite the observer today.The members of the Omega Workshopworked anonymously: no artist within thegroup was allowed to sign his work; instead,the Greek omega sign was stamped on everyartwork, textile or painting produced by the

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  • NEWS



    workshop, to make it immediately recognis-able. As a consequence, none of the survivingdesigns in the Courtauld collection has beensigned, but the paternity of some of the mostpowerful compositions can be attributed onthe basis of style to Duncan Grant or VanessaBell.The Courtauld Gallery possesses the largestsurviving group of Omega designs about ahundred left as a bequest by Frys daughter,Pamela Diamand, in 1958. Most of these de-signs were for rugs and reveal much of theOmega Workshops working methods. How-ever, only a small number of Omega rugs wereever made, probably by the Wilton Carpetcompany, one of the few British makers of car-pets that was still in production during thewar. A rare example of a firm attribution is the

    Lady Hamilton Rug, conserved at the Victoriaand Albert Museum.The new rugs made for Somerset House wereknotted by hand at Konya, in central Turkey,using the oldest techniques of weaving byhand. To produce them, the nest Anatolianyarns were used, rich in lanolin thanks to theextreme winter temperatures in the area.Christopher Farrs exhibition has drawn inspi-ration from some research effected a few yearsago for another exhibition, again concerningthe designs by the Omega Workshop. In ob-serving the designs, with their notes and com-ments, Farr had the idea, with MatthewBourne, of producing the rugs themselves.Five of the most lively and stimulating pat-terns were chosen and translated into workingpatterns, similar to the cartoons used byweavers. Some of the original designs hadbeen erased by time, while others were in-complete, and after examining the range ofcolours used by the Omerga group, a range ofcolours to use for these new textiles wasagreed in consultancy with the museum.The surprising results of this collaboration,these large, coloured rugs, are shown off tobest effect beneath the vaulted ceilings ofSomerset House.

    Opposite page, pattern design. The OmegaWorkshop. Hand-knotted weave, hand-spunAnatolian wool and mohair, 2.4 x 3.3 m, limited edition of 15, Christopher Farr.Above, a view of the exhibition.

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  • he Austin Family Business pro-gramme at the Oregon State Univer-sity College of Business has assigned

    the Deans Award for 2012 to the Atiyeh fa-mily, which is well-known to enthusiasts ofOriental rugs. This prestigious award has beengiven for the excellence demonstrated in thefamily business model. Oregons former go-vernor, Victor Atiyeh, collected the prize onbehalf of the family companies, which operatein the rug business: Atiyeh Bros. Inc. and by

    Atiyeh International Ltd. In 1900, the Atiyehcompany began to trade in carpets with out-lets open to the public throughout the north-western Pacific coast, and with a division de-dicated to importing and wholesale trading inNew York. At the end of the 1970s, the cele-brated Atiyeh production of Persian Kermanrugs was going through the doldrums becauseof the Iranian revolution, but over the courseof the following decades, the Atiyeh Bros. Incheadquarters in Portland, Oregon, expanded

    INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION FOR THE ATIYEH FAMILYThe Atiyeh family receives the Deans Award from the Oregon State University College of Business




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  • thanks in part to the opening of numerousshowrooms in metropolitan areas, and therealisation of an innovative cleaning plantsouth-east of Portland, near Division Street. Asecond cleaning plant was acquired at Eugenein 1980, and in 2001, the public showroomswere consolidated into a single large space atTigard, again in Oregon.Tom and Leslie Atiyeh created Atiyeh Interna-tional Ltd and transferred the production ofknotted rugs from Iran to China in the mid-1980s, with the aim of keeping alive the heri-tage of traditional rugs while at the same timekeeping abreast of new fashions as regards co-lours, in order to be able to meet the demandsof changing trends in contemporary design.The members of the Atiyeh family have al-ways involved all the family in projects with

    the local community, in charity organisationssuch as the Salvation Army, the Royal Rosa-rians, the Portland Rose Festival Foundation,Rotary International, and the Opal Creek An-cient Forest Center to mention just a few. Thesecond generation working in the family bu-siness comprises brothers Edwards, Richardand the governor, Victor Atiyeh, each ofwhom has contributed years of work. Nowthe relay is being passed to the third genera-tion, David Atiyeh (Edwards son) and TomMarantette (Richards son-in-law), who willbe leading Atiyeh Bros. in the 21st century.Tom (Victors son) and his wife, Leslie, haveensured that the wholesale side of the busi-ness has revived in line with the other familybusiness, and celebrated the centenary in2000 with a gala packed with special events,including a year-long exhibition at the Ore-gon History Museum.The essential points of the Deans Award con-cern the leadership in an industrial sectorand/or within a community. The prize hasbeen assigned to a family company that hasdemonstrated excellence in its business prac-tice, a close attention to the family dimen-sion, commitment to its local communityand, in particular, which has excelled in allthese elements which are essential in a familybusiness. The award recognises the success ofan entire family through the different genera-tions. Ilene K. Kleinsorge, Dean of the Col-lege of Business at Oregon State Universitydeclared: I believe that the Atiyeh family isthe most meritorious for the excellenceshown as model family business.




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  • he Museo Palazzo Madama in Turinhas been involved for some time inrestoring and promoting its collectionof clothes and accessories, with over

    160 articles dating from the 17th to the 20thcentury.In 2012, Palazzo Madama restored ten textilearticles in the form of embroideries datingfrom the 15th to the 18th centuries and adress from the 18th century.The dress was made using a splendid lampasdating from the second quarter of the 18thcentury, hemmed with lace made with silver

    thread. The model is a robe lafranaise, also called andrienne,and consists of a sack-backgown with ample folds on theback. It was very popular bet-ween 1730 and about 1760 asit was comfortable and assuredgreat freedom of movement.To celebrate this important re-storation, the dress went onshow on 23rd March, togetherwith the other restored textiles,in the textiles room of PalazzoMadama.On the same day, a conferencewas held, open to the public,presenting works never beforedisplayed, and exploring themethods used by the restorersto restore and maintain theseworks.The day opened with a wel-come from the museums direc-





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  • tor, Enrica Pagella. The busy programme in-cluded papers given by Mario Epifani on theprotection of textiles, by Maria Paola Ruffinoon the work done behind the scenes to pre-serve the museums textile collections, and byMoira Brunori, who revealed some details anddiscoveries made during the restoration of theandrienne. The museum has for some time worked onpromoting the rich collection of textiles andmaking it known to a wider public, using it as

    a means to explore the history, art and societyof the time. Apart from the new layout of thetextiles section, the following months will of-fer an interesting cycle of events exploring thefashions, fabrics, lace and womens ornamentsof the 18th century.These are the forthcoming events, which arewell worth attending: on Saturday, 6th April,we will explore womens fashion in the 18thcentury, accompanied by Silvia Mira, a fashionhistorian; on Saturday, 13th April, there willbe a voyage among 18th-century fabrics, gui-ded by Maria Paola Ruffino, curator of the tex-tiles collection; and on Saturday, 20th April,visitors will be able to study the details of thedecorations of dresses: embroidery, lace, trim-ming, presented by Gian Luca Bovenzi, texti-les historian.




    Opposite page, below the Andrienne afterrestoration; above a restorer at work.Above, detail of a restored textileMuseo Palazzo Madama collection.

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    mong recent events not to be missed isthe major show at the Palazzo delle Es-posizioni in Rome, Sulla via della Seta.

    Antichi sentieri tra Oriente e Occidente (On the SilkRoad. Ancient ways between East and West).Opening under the high patronage of the Presi-dent of the Republic, and organised by the presti-gious American Museum of Natural History inNew York, it can be visited until 10th March2013. More than 150 works are on show, some ofthe never before on public display.This is an important exhibition revealing the fas-cinating history unfolding over the centuriesalong the Silk Road. A long, complex route thatlinked the Far East, from the gates of the cities ofCanton (Guangzhou) and Quinsai (Hangzhou)

    on the China Sea, with Europe and into Italy,thanks to the merchants of the maritime cities ofGenoa and Venice.The Silk Road can be regarded as being one of thefirst examples of globalisation. The caravan routessaw not only goods changing hands, but also ma-jor innovations in culture and technology.Curated by Mark Norell of the American Museumof Natural History, the exhibition is not merely anopportunity to admire extraordinary articles, evi-dence of the trade of the time, but also one to un-derstand the culture of mankind, the migrationsof knowledge and technology expressed throughthe arts and crafts, in the meetings of cultures, re-ligions and languages.The main route of the Silk Road dates from AD618-907. It wound from China and reachedBaghdad. In the 14th century, it expanded, mov-

    SULLA VIA DELLA SETAAntichi sentieri tra Oriente e OccidenteRome, Palazzo delle Esposizioni27th October 2012 10th March 2013



    Below, entrance of Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome.Opposite page, loose leaf from the Cocarelli Codex.Recto: view of a port. Verso: treatise on vices andvirtues. Northern Italy or Black Sea, late 14thcentury. Miniature, ink and watercolours onparchment.

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    Decorated drum with domestic ox leather. Bos taurus, China,, late 19th century. Wood, leather, paper,pigments, metal and gilding. American Museum of Natural History, Anthropology, New York.

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  • ing further east, to Khanbalik,where Beijing is today, and west-wards to Tana, an important Ge-noese and Venetian colony on theeastern side of the Sea of Azov,above the Crimean peninsula.From there, the Silk Road went by

    sea, reaching theports of Istanbul,Venice, Genoa, Pisa,Antioch, Acra andAlexandria.The exhibition offersthe public a new voy-age through the prin-cipal cities of this an-cient road.We are introduced to Cahgan (todays Xian) inChina, the easternmost point of the Silk Road.

    Here lived foreign merchants,ambassadors, scholars, and itwas a city that played an im-portant role in the productionof silk. Here, we can discernthe first individuals: merchants,of course, but also archers, mu-

    sicians, dancers,knights, andtheir articles flutes, drums,cymbals andfine paint-ings on silk,showing theworking and

    making of silkin China.The exhibition continues with Turfan, an oasisin the Gobi desert, very cold in winter and hotand humid in summer, surrounded by moun-tains but situated below sea level. Its key featurewas a rich, crowded market, where it was possi-ble to buy all sorts of goods. Not just the silkbrought by the caravans: eastwards, the trafficbore gold, ivory, precious gems, metals andglass, while travelling westwards, they also car-ried pelts, furs, ceramics, jade, bronze and lac-




    Dalmatic belonging to Pope Benedict XI. The maintextile with small golden plant motifs, Ilkhanate Iranor central Asia, second half of the 13th century,overshot taffeta, silk and metallic thread. Insertswith pattern of palmettes, quadrupeds and birds,Italy, first half of the 14th century, overshot andbrocaded lampas, silk and metallic thread. Conventof San Domenico, Perugia. photo Sandro Collu.

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  • quered wood. It was possible to find anything atTurfan: exotic fruit, spices, aromatic and medici-nal plants, colours and dyes.The virtual voyage offered to the visitor thentakes him to Samarkand, famous for being a cityof merchants. Tamerlane made it the capital of hisempire, which stretched from India to Turkey,

    and this stimulated its great expansion. It was ahome to artists and craftsmen and was the centreof the Silk Road; numerous weavers and the mer-chants who traded in their goods lived here too.Samarkand was an important centre of cara-vanserais, splendid way stations in which trav-ellers could find board and hospitality.After leaving Samarkand, we travel to the heart ofthe Middle East, towards Baghdad. A culturalcentre, it was famous for its writers, scientists andphilosophers. At the time of the Silk Road, it rep-resented the peak of cultural development. Lead-ing scholars and erudite figures were able to meetin Baghdad and compare their ideas: geography,engineering, astronomy and mathematics sawtheir greatest developments thanks to the knowl-edge of men working at the Bayt al-ikma or




    Opposite page, fabric from the grave goods of Cangrande della Scala. Ilkhanate Iran orcentral Asia, early 14th century. Overshot lampas,silk and metallic thread. Museo di Castelvecchio,Verona. photo Umberto Tomba.Above, fragment of woven fabric. Ilkhanate Iran,mid 14th-century. Overshot lampas, silk andmetallic thread. Museo Nazionale del Bargello,Florence.

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  • House of Knowledge. A city of such ferment nat-urally gave great freedom to the most refinedcraftsmanship and, to give just one example, theglass produced here travelled along the Silk Roadas far as China.Before coming to the end of our journey betweenEast and West, the visitor pays a visit to Istanbul,a rich and extremely lively city. It was here thatthe commercial routes throughout the Mediter-ranean started. The commercial port for the SilkRoad, it was here that goods destined for Europeand Rome were transhipped. In the 15th century,Sultan Mahmud II created the Grand Bazaar, oneof the largest roofed markets in the world, whichattracted people of all confessions.The last step of this voyage is Italy.The exhibition hosted at thePalazzo delle Esposizioni hasbeen enriched by addi-tional sections createdespecially for the Ital-ian edition and ded-icated to the re-publics of Genoaand Venice.Curated by LucaMol, Maria Lu-dovica Rosatiand AlexandraWetzel, the Italianedition pays trib-ute to the continu-ous exchange thattook place betweenEast and West, and notjust of merchandise, but alsoof culture and knowledge. Be-tween the 12th and 14th century, Ital-ian merchants broadened their horizons thanks tonavigation, then travelling the Silk Road in thesearch for precious goods in India, China and Per-sion. Genoa and Venice became the hubs for tradewith northern Africa and the Middle East. In thesesections, the areas dedicated to ceramics, glass, sil-