Anonymous: The Ardabil Carpet (1539-1540)



(Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK)

A large carpet (34 1⁄2 by 17 1⁄2 feet / 10.5 m × 5.3 m), made by an anonymous workshop in Iran. This carpet belongs to a set of two identical carpets and were made during the reign of the Safavid Shah Tahmasp I of Iran (reign 1524 –1576). The pair was commissioned for the shrine of Sheikh Safi-ad-din Is'haq Ardabili (1252–1334), an ancestor of Tahmasp I, in Ardabil when it was enlarged in the late 1530s. The two carpets were sold in the late 19th century and ended up in two museums (one is in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art). The design of the carpet consists of swirling flowers or leaves with 2 lamps hanging from the centerpiece. On 1 side (here on the right) is a small text:

"Except for thy threshold, there is no refuge for me in all the world.

Except for this door there is no resting-place for my head.
The work of the slave of the portal, Maqsud of Kashan in the year 946".

The first 2 lines are from a poem by Persian mythic poet Hafiz Shirazi. The name "Maqsud of Kashan" was probably the name of the court official charged with producing the carpet and not a slave in the literal sense. The date 946 in the Muslim calendar and is equivalent to AD 1539 - 1540.

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