Wednesday, July 15, 2009
The Ardabil Carpets
Ardabil Carpets: An Overview of Exceptional Works of Art
Possibly two of the largest, and oldest carpets in the world, Ardabil carpets are cherished pieces of art, history and elegance all wrapped up in one – better yet, two. With gorgeous design and intricate elements, Ardabil carpets have spawned numerous look-a-likes. According to various accounts, the Ardabil carpets came into existence in northwestern Iran in the 16th century. Former Iranian ruler, Shah Tahmasp wanted the carpets to be created for the shrine of his ancestor, Shaykh Safi in the town of Ardabil. Now, almost 500 years later, the fine details and awe-inspiring beauty of these carpets make them extraordinary treasures.
Measuring approximately 13' 5" x 23' 11" (Los Angeles) and 17' 6" x 34' 6" (London) and made up of silk foundation (warps and wefts) and wool pile, the Ardabil carpets are finely constructed with a variety of patterns and colors, such as red, blue and yellow. A gold medallion is at the center of the carpets, surrounded by smaller medallions located in the four corners of each rug. The medallion is very large, but not over powering. And although the sheer size of the carpets is mind boggling, it is the expertly weaved design running throughout each carpet that has everyone amazed. Since the carpets are so enormous, much care and attention to detail had to be involved when creating such masterpieces.
Two lamps are expertly positioned above and below the center medallion. These lamp images give the appearance as if they were hanging from the medallion. And depending on where you stand, one of the lamps looks larger than the other. This rectangular-shaped carpet also contains an endless amount of additional scrollwork. This includes a variety of images of flowers or greenery, which also provide unmistakable appeal. These images dominate a large portion of the carpets and make up the deep blue background within the main area of each carpet.
Until the late 1800s, there were still two complete Ardabil carpets existing in the shrine of Shaykh Safi. Unfortunately, there was an earthquake and the carpets were damaged. As a result, one carpet was used to repair the other one, leaving one, full-scale Ardabil carpet and a smaller, border-less carpet. As of today, one carpet is currently housed at the V&A Museum in London. There, it lies flat in an enclosed glass case. The carpet is only lit periodically to prevent any color damage from lighting. The other carpet is located in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Ardabil carpets have been through a myriad of difficulties over the centuries. What began as simply a royal commission, these carpets have become some of the most renowned carpets of their kind. And regardless of a complex history, natural disasters and near destruction of these attention-grabbing masterpieces, Ardabil carpets are truly in a class by themselves.
Dr. Khosrow Sobhe
Certified Rug Specialist (CRS)