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CLASSICAL CHINESE CARPETS 1 Previous page

with huge carpets,

T'le imperial 'vvay. a

originally a brilliant

great stone pathway

shade of dark Mrng

carved with dragons.

red. son to the eye

clouds and waves.

yet vibrant and deep

marks the south/north

In the Hall of Supreme

route along whrch the

Harmony each carpet

Ef'1peror was carried

depicted bnght yellow

between the Great

and blue dragons

Halls of the Forbidden

confronting a flaming

City Getty Images

pearl The semicircles

2 imperial two-dragon

cut rnto ihe srdes fit-

:arpi::t. Be111ng. 16th centurv. 6.64 < 7.57m •21'9

x 24

10· The

dragon rs the

~ymbol

ted around two large columns

in

the 'iall.

and along the bottom edge are outlines of

of Imperial power The

four further columns.

floors of the Great

Palace Museum,

Halls were covered

Be1J1ng, 212242

THE CARPET COLLECTION OFTHE CHINESE IMPERIAL HOUSEHOLD is a subjecc chac has fascinaced me since 1966. when I acquired a copy of The Practical Book of Oriental Rugs by G. Griffin Lewis (Philadelphia. 1913). le is a rather lightweight tome as far as scholarship is concerned. yet of great value as Dr Lewis published a reproduction of a watercolour image with the caption. 'By Courresy of Cosrikyan & Co, New York Cit)'. Presented by the late Mr.]. Pierpoint Morgan ro rhe Metropolitan Museum of Arr, New fork City. A very unique and beautiful piece. /t is one ofthe most celebrated and costly rugs in America. The cloud bands and the five-clawed Chinese dra9ons are {Tamed in by the Chinese fret.' This illustration and enticing text sec me on a quesc chac lasted some 3+ years and was to become a lifetime pursuiL The illustracion depicted an apparently yellow-ground carpet with five imperial dragons and a wave pattern at the lower end. which appeared stylistically to date from the reign of the great Wan Ii Emperor (1572-1620). History does noc treat him kindly as he virtually bankrupted Chi na through his ext ravagant refurbishment of the Forbidden City in the lace 16th centu ry. The pattern is remarkably simi lar co che enormous stone ·carpets· thar mark the Imperial Way in front of the Hall of Supreme Harmony. che rouce rhe Emperor was transported over to reach this pavilion 1. A relaced carpec in the colleccion of che Palace Museum is illustrated opposice 2. I wrote to the Metropolitan Museum bur they had no record of owning the carpet. I later discovered that after Morgan's death in 1913. this carpet - 10gether with many

4

3 3 The Young Kangx1

the Wanlr Emperor

Emperor at his lt\i'ltmg

some seventy years

Desk. ca 1670

earlier. The dragons.

The Kangx1 Emperor

clouds and floral

(1661-17221 inherited

borders relate to the

a palace filled wrth

'Mrng' carpet s now

magnificent carpets.

1n the collectron.

Hrs own love of

Palace Museum.

carpet s and his care

Be111ng

for their preservation

4 The colours of the

is recorded by his

Ming penod Imperial

son. the Yongzheng

dragon carpet 1n 2

Emperor On the floor

d1g1tally adjusted to

is one of the many

recreate its ongrnal

carpets ordered by

splendour

other major works of art - was retracted from che Mecropolitan Museum by Morgan's executors as the documentation for the original gift had not been final ised. le was nm until 1973 that I discovered its whereabouts. when a detail of the carpet \\'as published in che catalogue of carpets in the :Vletropoliran ~lu seum as the property of Fred Mueller. a famous an connoisseur and recluse then living in Gracie Square in '.'Jew York. lt was co take a further fifteen yea rs and scores of leners before I was given the privi lege to exam ine che carpet and confi rm my suspicions. Through considerable research over a number of years. I had come co believe chac this carpet was likely co have been made by order of the \Vanli Emperor for the t hrone platform in the Hall of Supreme Harmony in the Forbidden Cicy. To the Chinese this was the very centre of the Celestial World. and t he carpet was a reflection of che heavens and an endorsement of t he supreme authority of the Emperor. From 1969 onwards I collected images of early Chinese carpets. I have managed to assemble records of some six hundred that may date to before 17+0. Among these are 61 thac were possibly made during the last part ofche Ming dynasty. from about the mid· 16ch to che mid-17ch century. About half of these had a particular weave. possibly from an Imperial workshop in Beijing. while the others were similar to carpets auributed

HAU ISSUE 173 77


CLASSICAL CHINESE CARPETS to 1 ingxia in rhe western provinces. Almost all rhe carpets with che disrincrive "Beijing路 weave are knotted on si lk vvarps and have identical green. yellow and brown (often corroded) guard stripes. which appear to have been 路signature路 of rhe workshop. In 1982 a large picture book was published in New York: The Palace Museum. Pekin9. by Weng Wan-go and Yang Boda. with excellent phorographs of several of rhc Great Halls and pavilions in the Forbidden Ciry. The book shows the raised chrone platforms in all of the Greac Halls with carpets made to fit them. and the stone floors surrounding rhe platforms left bare s. It was possible from these images to deduce that the carpet in che Hall of Union was probably a 16th-century original. while those on rhe other throne platforms appeared to be inaccurate 20th-century copies. I remained eager to discover whar might have remained of the 16th-century carpets in the Forbidden Cicy. My curiosity was further fuelled in the !arc 1980s when I was offered by a London bookseller a huge album ofblack-and-whice photographs of the Palace in Beijing. caken by order of the Emperor of Japan during the occupation of the Forbidden City by foreign powers during the Boxer uprising in 1901/ 2. and published in 1906. Among the images are several showing the floors of the Great Halls covered wall to wall with large carpets 6. Shaped to fit around the central throne platform and the many columns. they were typical of the 16th-century rype. Where had they gone? Over a period of some fifteen years. I wrote numerous letters to the directors of the Palace Museum in Beijing, The National Palace Museum in Taipei and the Palace Museum in Shenyang. Sadly I received no response. In London in rhe late 1990s. however. I mentioned my quest to Dr Zhao Feng. rhen Deputy Director of the Chinese National Silk Museum in Hangzhou. He informed me that many years earlier one of his teachers had been :vtrs Yuan Hongqi. then curator of carpets at the Palace Museum. I asked Zhao Feng if he would kindly make an appointment for us to visit the Palace Museum and meet with Mrs Yuan and hope-

5

fully the Director. \Ve were most generously received in the museum in :'vlay 2000. We were shown a few carpets from the storerooms - none of the great 16th century carpets I had hoped for. but some smaller and later Ming carpets that must have come from the private apartments. The following day Dr Zhu Chengru. Deputy Director of the Museum. arranged that we could visit each of the Great Halls to inspecc che carpets that remained on the throne platforms. This required many signatures and was an honour. we were told. never granted to the curators. so they were delighted to lead us. My supposition about none of che 16th century carpets surviving in the Great Hal ls proved correct - until we approached the Hall of Union. a pavilion reserved for the Empress. There in the centre was a spectacular 16th-century carpet with phoenixes 7. At lunch. Dr Zhu enquired whether I had found any of the carpets commissioned by the \\"a nli Emperor at the end of the 16th century. I was pleased ro announce thar we had found one. I then asked what had happened to the resr. The fact that remarkably few had appeared on the market or in publications since 1906 suggested that they could still be within the vast complex of rhe Forbidden City and perhaps within the Palace walls. When I passed images around the table of some of the 'lost' carpets from rhe 1906 Japanese album. rhe museum's retired curator offurnirure. present at this remarkable lunch. turned our to be the hero ofrhe day. He said thar his predecessor had to ld him that many of the carpets that once covered rhe Great Halls were stored in

78 HALI ISSUE 173

6 SThe Hall of Preser-

of Japan show that

vmg Harmony in the

during winter all the

Forbidden Palace.

stone floors of the

Be1Jing, as it is today

Great Halls were

6 The Imperial throne

entirely covered w ith

platform 1n the Hall of

carpets These were

Preserving Harmony.

specifically made to

Black-and-white

go around the

photographs of the

columns and 1he

Forbidden Palace m

throne platform. as

Be1Jing taken by

well as up the narrow

Kazumasa Ogawa in

stalfs that lead to the

1906 during the

Imperial thrones. After

occupa11on of the

Ogawa, The lmpenal

Forbidden City by

City o/ Pekmg, Chma,

order at the Emperor

Volume I, To>.yo 1906


CLASSICAL CHINESE CARPETS

'In the history of carpets this was a moment that could be compared to Carter at the door to the tomb of Tutankhamun'

8 Imperial floral

10 Hongzhi, lhe tenth

carpet. Be1J1ng, 16th

Ming Emperor (1488·

century. 5.94 x 8.13m

1505) seated on an

(19'6" x 26'8") One

Imperial Ming carpet

of ten surviving floral

This portrait combines

Imperial carpets 1n the

dragon and lotus

Palace. Four are some

panerns with drama·

11 metres long and

tic effect . The soph1·

six metres wide; ancr

st1cated drawing of

ther 1s over 24 metres

the spiralling stems,

long and 16 metres

naturalistic flowers

wide. Size and the

and life-like dragons

specific location of

surpasses 1n artistry

the column spaces

even the finest

should make it pos·

Imperial porcelains.

s1ble to place this

le 1s recorded that

carpet into its original

"The Directorate for

position 1n one of the

Imperial Regalia

Great Halls. Palace

asked perm1ss1on to

Museum. Be1J1ng.

newly furnish !the

212320

Be1iing Palace! with

9 Hongwu, the first

more than

Ming Emperor (1368·

plain and dragon

1398) Hongwu estatr

carpets' to which

a hundred

hshed a dynasty that

Zeng J1an and certain

would shape the

off1c1als of the court

Celestial Empire for

responded. :Although

more than a quarter

carpets are JUSt

of a millennium. The

utilitarian ob1ects,

date of this painting

nevertheless the wool

1s unknown, but the

has to come from

prominence given to

Shanxi and Shaanx1

the carpet is clear

and the conon for the

Many lmpenal Ming

weft and warp has to

carpets are depicted

be picked 1n Henan.

1n court portraits, but

Weavers from Suzhou

no evidence of an

and Songzhou need

Imperial workshop

to be employed [All

has been found. The

this[ takes much 11me

main border has a

and money and the

s1lk·textile-Oenved lat-

labour costs are

t1ce pattern s1m1lar to

extremely high. I

those on pavements in

the Forbidden City

therefore plead to stop [the pro1ectl'

National Palace

Nauonal Palace

Museum. Taipei

Museum. Taipei

the Palace of Compassion and Tranquillity in the eastern part of the Forbidden City. Dr Zhu immediately decided that a delegation would be sent to visit it the next morning. Our small group gathered punctually in the museum visitor reception. our sense of excitement overwhelming. Dr Zhu had warned us to wear our oldest clothes as this area had been closed for some while and would be very d irty. We were soon to discover what he meant. The door to the Palace of Compassion and Tranquillity was sealed and it was noted that it was last entered in 1927. The seal was ceremonially removed and the doors opened. Sadly this amazing event thac we were so privileged to be pan of was not filmed. In che hiscory of carpets chis was a moment that could be compared to Carter at the door to the tomb ofTutankhamun. The ground floor of the pavi lion was stacked floor to ceiling with 19th-century mother-of-pearl ebony furniture. There were no glazed windows. so the dust of Beijing had blown in for almost three quarters of a century. and all sorts of rodents scurried across the furniture. At che far end was a wide. steep staircase leading to the upper level. As we climbed we saw a long line of huge rolled-up carpets. Each roll was some four co five mecres deep and two to three metres high. and I realised that I was standing next to carpets that were more than ten metres long and maybe seven metres wide. I counted about fort y of these rolls. covered with heavy cotton cloths that I started to remove. I cou ld see. although the light was restricted. that each of chese carpets had che silk warps and green/yellow/ brown guard stripes typical of the Wanli Imperial carpers. The Great Beijing Palace carpets had been rediscovered. The sun·i\'ing early Palace carpets show every indication that they were made in

9

10

t he same workshop and at the same t ime. as they have identical structure. macerials and colours. \Ve can deduce from sources such as court paintings chat most of these survivors date from t he very end of the Ming Dynasty. Examples are the carpets depicted beneath the Hongwu Emperor (1368-98) 9. the Yongle Emperor (1403-25). and the Hongzh i Emperor (1488-1505) 10. which I bel ieve were painted at the rime or very soon after the passing of each emperor. They provide an accurate record of the patterns. In the mid-17 th century the young Kangxi Emperor (1661-1722) of the Qing Dynasty is portrayed on a carper of the same type as these 3. and there is no reason to assume the rug was new when painted. From such paintings we know that all these carpets have or once had red backgrounds. Ming Imperial red. The Imperial colour of the Qing Court was yellow and by the end of the 17th century this became the predominant background colour on Chinese carpets. Classical Chinese carpers. dating from around 1400 to 1750. have been exported to the \Vest since al least the early 1700s. They do not have the fine knor counts of Persian and Indian carpets. yet the weavers were able to make the most delicate curvilinear designs e mploying a vast repertoire of techniques. Although the wool pile of Chinese carpets is generally quite soft. it was practice in China (and throughout Asia) to remove o ne·s outside shoes when walking on carpets. Thus. carpers were treated with the respect t hat they deserve and they lasted for many years. Once they reached the salons and boudoirs of the mansions of the new rich in America. many hundreds were destroyed within a very short period of rime. We should be graceful that so many Chinese carpets have been preserved in the Palace Museum in Beijing. The Palace Museum Collection is certainly one of the largest in the world. The larger illustrations in chis article show examples of most of the parrerns of the Ming Palace carpets made specifically for the Great Halls. We know of 51. These mostly have large si lk warps. huge knots and a deep and dense pile. Twenty-seven are complete HALI ISSU E 173 81


CLASSICAL CHINESE CARPETS

11

or almost complete and 24 are fragmented: those with field designs of dragons 2 . nine complete and fifteen fragmented: phoenixes 7. one complete and o ne fragmented: floral fields 8 . eleven complete: narrow clouds runners. three complete: lion-dogs 12 . one complete: octagonal medallion. one complete example: compartment designs 13 . four complete and four fragmented. Apart from the phoenix carpet in rhe Hall of Union. it is possible chat no ocher 'Beijing路 carpets survived in the Palace apart from those pu t away in the Palace of Compassion and Tranquilli ty some eighty years ago. The so-called Beijing type certainly signi fy a specific workshop that may have started in the 15th century and continued until t he middle of the 17th century - following thar time. most of the carpers acquired by rhe Palace appear to have been made in Xinjiang or . ingxia in western China. The Beiji ng type represent the largest group survh路ing in the Palace Collection. in numbers. dimensions and weight. One floral floor carpet is 24.3 metres long and 16.+ metres wide. making it a candidate for one of rhe largest handmade carpets in rhe world. and without doubt the heaviest. The Palace ~lu seu m has a few examples. some made in the Beijing \\'Orkshops 14 and or hers made in ingxia 17. that I would arrribute to rhe first half of rhe 17th century. Similar examples su rvive in Western collections. ~lore rhan fi\'e hundred carpers from the reign of che Kangxi Emperor. made in the second half of the 17ch and first part of the 18th century. were sh ipped to the \\'est. Consequent ly very few examples from chis great period survive in the Palace ~ luseu m. Possibly the most complete and beautiful are one with a diagonal lattice 15. and a circu lar carpet wirh a complex lattice 16. One of the largest groups in the collection is composed of silk pile carpets with brocaded metal th read. most of w hich were made in Xinjiang. The earliest known example is a small sadd le rug in the Qatar Museums Collection in Doha. which has been carbon-dated ro the 15rh or 16th century. The oldest example in Beijing is one probably made in the early years of the Qianlong Emperor 18. Its pair. also now in Qatar. was acquired from the Forbidden Palace by J.P. ~!organ a hundred years ago and has been the subject of many essays. ~lany silk carpets that sur\'i\'e today in the Palace were made from the mid-18rh century onwards. probably in Kashgar in present -day Xi njiang 19. They have designs derh路ed from ~ l ughal and from east Persian carpers. and aesthetically could best be described as 'where opulence has t riumphed over restraint'. being fully patterned wich gaudy colou rs that for the most part have little or no balance or proportions. These were used in the personal rooms of the Imperial Fami ly. The Palace Museum has many other works that fall under the 路carper' department. including embroideries that were used to cover w indows and walls. mach ine -made carpers made in Be lgium and Russia. felt carpets 20 and painted floor cloths. There are tent hangings. a Eu ropean needlework carpet. as well as a remarkable Chinese tapestry based upon a European tapestry. There is one Safavid Persian carpet with pal metres and cloudbands 21 . made in Esfahan between 1600 and 1650. of a type we would normally associate with being made for Portugal. Two small Indian carpets 22. quite crudely made but also possibly from the lace 16rh or early 17th century. are probably also Portuguese imports into China.

82 HALI ISSUE 173

11 Portrait of a

by key and chrysan-

Seated Man. China.

1hemum borders.

18th century. This

similar to the design

portrait depicts a

of a hon-dog carpet

man sining on a

1n 1he Palace

16th-century Imperial

Museum collection.

carpet. on which we

Be111ng !opposite)

see a pair of hon-

Royal Ontario

dogs with a ball and

Museum. Toronto.

ribbons surrounded

9211149


CLASSICAL CHINESE CARPETS CARPETS IN THE COLLECTION OF THE PALACE MUSEUM; CLASSICS OF THE FORBIDDEN CITY It is important for scholars that the full extent of any museum collection (the good. the bad and the ugly) is accessible somewhere. possibly through a small handbook or an online publication. But when one produces an expensive art book full of large colour plates one expects to see illustrations of works of an. without the addition of mere artefacts. or in the case of The Forbidden City Publishing House's Carpets in the Colleccion of rhe Palace Museum: Classics of the Forbidden City. used floorcoveri ngs of no merit whatsoever. The saddest thing about the book is that all the items are given equal weight and importance. Imagine. for example. going to a ceramics exhibition at the Palace Museum and finding their Song period porcelains side by side with household dishes acquired at a nickel and dime store. Under such circumstances. one feels obliged to question the authority of the text. Thirty-four of the plates simply should not have been published. Furthermore, two full-page colour plates are devoted to abominable copies. recently commissioned by the museum. of great vVanli palace carpets. These lack any understanding of the art of the originals. The very best examples in the col lection are the Imperial Ming carpets from the Wanli period. The book's authors. Liu Baojian and Yuan Hongqi. attribute a variety of quite different dates to these carpets. which other scholars would certainly consider all to be of the same date. Setting up a logical chronology of Chinese carpets based upon surviving examples requires careful physical examination of the many hundred surviving pieces. Clearly this privilege was not available to them. That said. the text has made some very valuable contributions and provided interesting references in the carpet literature to carpets that were not known before. Hov,;ever. thei r discussion of technique is somewhat muddled and should be avoided. Possibly one of the most disappointing things about this book is the quality of the colour reproductions. In 2002. Textile & Art Publications paid for sixteen of the most important carpets. selected by myself and including mostly the large Wanli carpers. robe phorographed by the Palace Museum photographer (a highly skilled professional) for a joint publication t har did not come to fruition. The scans were never colour correcred to the originals. The published images clearly used the same uncorrected scans. For this article we have attempted to correct them. The reason to acquire this book is the eleven Wanli period carpets illustrated. which appear mostly at the front. but with others scattered and lost among execrable artefacts. Added to this there are eight excellent smaller carpets made during the period of the last Ming emperors. 1620-1642. When such masterpieces are treated like this it is hardly surprising that so few people appreciate the art of the carpet today.

13 Imperial compart-

They all have the

ment carpet with

same primary and

rosenes and cloud

minor borders, sug-

collars. Beijing. 16th

gesting that they

century. 5.44 x 6.68m

were made for one

(17' 10' x 21'11"). There

particular hall. The

are reported to be

location of the

seven large carpets

column spaces cut

with this compart-

out around the edges

ment f ield panern in

should provide a clue

the Palace Museum

as to exactly which

Collect1on. four com-

hall Palace Museum.

plete. and the others

Beijing, 212371

fragmented or shortened in some way.

POSTSCRIPT Since the rediscovery in 2000 of the Imperial Beijing carpets from the Great Halls of the Forbidden City. the Palace Museum has been commissioning copies to put back on the floors of the Great Halls. Sadly. the copies reproduce the colours from the 16th-century carpets as they are today. without reference to the examples in the collection where the colours have not changed over rime. Thus the floors of the Great Halls are now Imperial Qing yellow and not Imperial Ming red as they were originally conceived. While the Palace Museum today greatly respects the art of the carpet and treasures its great heritage. it is hoped t hat future generations in China wi ll one day also understand what a great art once exisred. The museum has wisely taken rhe decision to preserve its heritage and all the great palace carpets have again been 路put路 away into deep storage. Unfortunately. this also means that no one will have rhe opportunity to underst;ind the art of the carpet. particularly if all they have co see is very poor reproductions. It may take another persistent enthusiast in the next century to yet again rediscover these masterpieces. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to rhank Zhao Fen9, Director of the Cl1ina National Silk Museum, Han9zhou; Zhen9 Xinmiao, Director of the Palace Museum. Beijin9; Zhu Chen9ru, formerly Deputy Director of the Palace Museum: Yan9 Fan and Li Shaoyi. from the Palace Department of Forei9n Affairs; Guo Fuxian9. department of Palace History; the retired curator of furniture at the Palace Museum, 111hose name I sadly did not record; Hu Chui. Palace Museum photosrapher; Roderick. Whitfield, formerly of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. for help and advice: Malcolm McNeil/ and Eve Leun9, both ofSOAS in London, for their assistance in translatin9 the text of the book; Adele Schlombs, Director of the M碌seum rur Ostasiatische Kunst. Colo9ne; Li Shasha. my aunt and interpreter in Beijin9; Rupert Waterhouse, who has patiently mana9ed our excellent relationship with China over many years; and last but most importantly Yuan Hon9qi. former Palace Museum curator of carpets. and Liu Baojian, who have recorded these outstandi119 carpets for posterity. 84 HALI ISSUE 173

CARPETS INTHE COLLECTION OFTHE PALACE MUSEUM CLASSICS OFTHE FORBIDDEN CITY By Liu Baojian and Yuan Hongqi T he Palace Museum, The Forbid den City Publishing House, Beijing 2010 Chinese text only, 282 x 285mm, 282pp., many colour illustrations, hardbound with slipcase ISBN 9787800479960


CLASSICAL CHINESE CARPETS 14 mpenal geometric

1n a Western collection,

carpet with stepped

as do several rectangular

the pattern books of the

diamonds and rosettes

dais covers. daybed covers

Kashgar workshops, They

!detail), Be111ng, early 17th

and seating mats with this

developed their own par-

century 3. 10 x 4 70m

design. Round carpets

11cular style of so-called

Herat1 patterns. especially

also must have entered

(10"2" x 15'5"). The Palace

with other patterns are

Museum has a number of

known from the 17th and

the five-flower design.

lattice design carpets from

18th centuries Palace

Palace Museum. Bei1ing

the first half of the 17th

Museum, Be111ng, 60960

20 Felt carpet (detail).

century Three - one made

17 Daybed rug (detail),

unknown origin. second

1n Be111ng, shown here,

N1ngx1a. first half 17th

half 18th century. 2.16 x

and two from N1ngxia -

century. 1.42 x 2 05m

Ulm (7'1" x 3'8'). There

have this stepped diam-

(4'8' x 6'9') There are

are a number of extraordinary felt carpets from

ond lattice. Two related

two small ivory-ground

Be111ng carpets are known

daybed rugs. possibly

the time of the second

1n Western collections

from the second quarter

quarter of the 18th cen-

This magnificent daybed

of the 17th century, 1n

tury onwards in the col-

cover has most of its

the museum. The flowers

lec11on. Felt carpets have a long trad1t1on in Central

original colours. The ros-

show the origin of a type

ette motif is fluid. and is

that 1n a more stylised

Asia. orig1nat1ng more

constructed to appear as

form was often used in

than 2.500 years ago. A

1f 11 1s spinning - a feature

N1ngx1a in the second

number of smaller rugs

we see in the Beijing

half of the century. The

survive from the 13th to

examples but rarely 1n

border patterns on both

16th centuries. but none

those from Ningx1a.

these rugs have designs

1n the Palace collection.

suggesting that the

normally found on Be11ing

The cloud design of this

carpet may well have

workshop carpets from

carpet can also be seen

come from the Imperial

the beginning of the

on velvets. woven silks

workshops Palace

century. Ivory grounds

and embroideries as well

Museum, Be111ng. 21196

carpets are qu11e rare 1n

as on ceramics and other

15 Imperial geometric

N1ngx1a carpets, this

works of art from the

carpet with stepped

panern 1s usually found

Oianlong period. Palace

diamonds and rosettes

against a dark beige

Museum. Be11ing

<de1a1JJ. Ningx1a, first half

background. originally

21 Esfahan carpet (detail),

17th century 4 25 x

red. now ox1d1sed.

central Persia, 16th cent·

4.60m (13 11· x 15"1").

Palace Museum. BeiJlng

ury. 2.90 x 7.00m (9"6" x

This wonderful 1ncom-

18 Kashgar carpet lde1a1l).

23·0·1 Carpets hke this

plete dais cover 1s the

X1n1iang. mid-18th century

are generally attributed to

only example known with

2.30 x 4.00m (7T x 13'1").

the 11me of Shah :Abbas at

a diamond lamce and

Silk pile carpets embel-

the end of the 16th cen-

small diamonds at inter-

fished with metal thread

tury. but recent research

sections Its borders are

were made for the Court

suggests that the work·

related to 16th century

of the 01anlong Emperor

shop where this type of

Chinese carpets. The

by weavers 1n Kashgar

carpet was made may be

rosettes are static and do

during the middle of the

two or three decades

not 'rotate'. A diamond

the 18th century. The

earlier. Many such

lanice carpet with roset·

technique 1m1tated that

Esfahan carpets were

tes can be seen on the

of the so-called 'Polon-

exported to Europe by

floor of a portrait of Prince

a1se· carpets of 17th

the Portuguese through

Lian Yins1, fifth son of the

century Esfahan Designs

the port of Hormuz and 11

Kangx1 Emperor. Palace

mostly 1m1tated those of

is likely that this example

Museum, Be111ng, 211975

Mughal India. reflec11ng

was acquired by a Portu-

16 Imperial dais cover

Jinks between Kashgar

guese vessel en route to

w11h interlaced diamond

and the Subcontinent.

China and that 11 survived

and rectangle lattice

although we also some-

1n the Forbidden City.

<detail). Ningx1a. second

11mes find Chinese textile

Palace Museum, Be111ng

half 17th century. 4.62

patterns. Apart from a

22 Indian rug, 17th

x 4 69m (15'2' x 15"5')

Ming period saddle rug,

century. 0.87 x 1.65m

By the end of the 17th

this 1s the oldest silk

12·10· x 5'5"), The Palace

century the N1ngx1a work-

carpet with metal to

Museum has two small

shops 1n northwest China

survive from China. Its

Indian rugs from this

were 1n full production for

pair belongs to the Qatar

period. This example is

the court of the Kangxi

Museums Authority.

quite coarsely woven Similar rugs. probably

Emperor This superb

Palace Museum. Beijing

round carpet was possibly

19 Kashgar carpet (deta11),

exported from India to

made for a tent or circular

Xin11ang, second half

Japan by the Portuguese.

dais. It is without borders.

18th century. 2.12 x

survive today 1n collec-

having cloth sewn around

3.46m (6'11" x 11 '4").

t1ons 1n Kyoto. Palace

the edge. Its pair survives

Persian floral designs

Museum, Be11ing

86 HALI ISSUE 173


Classical Chinese Carpets  
Classical Chinese Carpets  

Forgotten Carpets of the Forbidden City by Michael Franses

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