Ghiyath al-Din Jami Hunting Carpet
The Hunting Rug that you see below is an exclusive piece of art. A few versions of the rug were made, and we have one of those available at Saba Rugs. The original, known as “Ghiyath al-Din Jami Hunting Carpet”,
is currently being exhibited at Museo Poldi Pezzoli in Milano.
The brochure of the museum clearly gives an excellent description of the rug, and this is how it goes;
“The magnificent Ghiyath al-Din Jami Hunting Carpet is almost unique in that it is inscribed and dated. In the very centre is an ivory ground rectangular cartouche containing in Persian: By the
diligence of Ghiyath al-Din Jami, was completed this renowned work, that appeals to us by its beauty, in the year [either 929 ah (1522–23 ce) or 949 ah (1542–43 ce)]. It is hardly surprising that it is considered fundamental to the study of sixteenth-century Persian carpets. It was almost
certainly made in Tabriz, as it shares common features with many others from there.
It is probable also that the earlier of the two dates is the correct one, as discussed below, making it the earliest dated Persian carpet. As such, this carpet may well be a key to building a chronological sequence for many other related examples. We may have before us one of the last great carpets from the time of Shah Ismail I (r.1501–1524), the monumentality and presence of which cannot be denied.
The field design of the Ghiyath al-Din Jami carpet is based around a large, central sixteen-lobed medallion, which is partially repeated in each corner. Friedrich Sarre writes that [each medallion is] ‘filled with slender angular trellis-like stems, with larger and smaller palmettes and flower buds and leaves on a red ground. Over these stems are placed a considerable number of blue cloudbands.
There are also yellow herons with blue and green wings, and coloured ducks.
The pattern of the medallion is mirrored both horizontally and vertically, so the full design can
be constructed from one quarter of the medallion. Attached to each end of the medallion on the
vertical axis only is a lobed cartouche on ivory containing fish and ducks. Beyond the cartouche
is a lobed pendant on red with a central palmette and birds. The quartered medallions that fill each corner of the field create the illusion that they might repeat into infinity had the frame of the border not constrained them.
The outline of the sixteen-lobed medallions is probably derived from the cloud-collar rim of
Mongol tents, in the centre of the ceiling of which is a hole for smoke to escape: from the inside
one looked out onto the stars and on the outside one saw the lobed cloud-collar pattern. The
cloud-collar symbolises a gateway or ‘sky-door’ between heaven and earth. Sarre continues his description: ‘The dark blue ground of the inner field is overspread with light blue angular trellis-like stems bearing numerous larger and smaller palmettes and flowers. With these as background a succession of hunting scenes is represented.’ The repeat is composed
of eight huntsmen in each quarter of the field. The animals include: antelope, bear, buck, wild ass,lion, lynx, boar, stag, hare and falcon. Thus it appears as if two designs are being brought
together: the medallion and the field. In many other carpets that have medallions and floral designs in the field, the background pattern appears to continue under the medallion, which looks as though it has been superimposed.
Here, however, as on most of the sixteenth-century Persian hunting carpets and the ‘Paradise Park’ carpets (the latter devoid of humans), the background pattern fills in the empty spaceof the field. The border has a large strap-work design enclosing palmettes, with small animal heads placed in the background.
The very angular ‘stylised’ drawing is typical of the Tabriz workshops of northwest Persia. The vast majority of surviving Tabriz carpets can be traced back to Constantinople and were probably taken to Turkey as war booty – only two small prayer rugs of this type are known to remain in Iran. Contemporaneous Turkish paintings show the floors of Ottoman palaces covered
with Safavid carpets, whereas Turkish carpets are rarely to be seen. Regarding the inscribed date, it does seem more likely that a spectacular work such as this would have been commissioned in 1522–23 at a time of relative tranquillity rather than in 1542–43, when Tabriz was under threat from the Ottomans. It is also possible that the highly geometric pictorial style seen here could have arisen during the latter years of the reign of Shah Ismail.
Later,a slightly more curvilinear style seems gradually to have emerged, exemplified by masterpieces such as the Mantes ‘Paradise Park’ Carpet in the Louvre, Paris, which includes depictions of hunters with firearms.33 In 1514 The Ottomans defeated Shah Ismail at the Battle of Chaldiran, in part because the Ottomans had firearms, which the Persians lacked. Following the battle the Ottomans briefly occupied Tabriz and took many of the city’s treasures, no doubt including carpets, back to Turkey.
We may speculate that the last great masterpieces from the Tabriz workshops – the
‘Chelsea’ Lobed-Medallion Carpet (fig. 9),34 the Bardini-Williams ‘Paradise Park’ Carpet,35 and
the Schutz-Mackay ‘Paradise Park’ Carpet (fig. 10)36 – mark the transformation to the birth of
a new style in carpet design.37 Certainly, traces of the Schutz-Mackay can be seen in the Darius
‘Tiger’ carpet, the latter being made in central Persia some thirty years later.”
Excerpt from Pages 30-31 of "The Garden of Paradise in the Poldi Pezzoli Museum ‘Tiger’ Carpet and in 16th Century Persian Carpets", exhibition catalogue, Poldi Pezzoli Museum, Milan, 23 May-1 September 2014, Milan, 2014, 2014. (The picture is also a screenshot from a PDF version of the above mentioned Catalogue). All Copyrights to Museo Poldi Pezzoli.
Another picture of the rug was posted in "Art in World History" by Mary Hollingsworth published in 2003. Link, https://books.google.co.jp/books/about/Art_in_World_History.html?id=O5Jj_FqZYN4C&redir_esc=y