Largest, Oldest, Most Famous. These adjectives catch my attention. Continuing on this thread of new Islamic art wings at major museums (the Louvre, The Met), we’ve crossed the channel to London’s Victoria and Albert. The centerpiece to the Jameel Gallery of Islamic art, which opened in July 2006, is just that: The largest, the oldest signed, and undoubtedly the most famous Persian carpet in the world. Behold the Ardabil Carpet.
When William Morris, an art referee for the museum at the time (and the grandfather of textile design), first saw the Ardabil carpet in 1893 he was smitten, describing it as “the most remarkable work of art … the design is of singular perfection …”, banging on in delirious delight. Morris didn’t know that it was one of a pair (the other of which is at LACMA in Los Angeles, and was at one point in JP Getty’s possession).
Measuring 10.51m x 5.34m (34.4 x 17.6 feet), it has over 26 million knots of silk and wool. The pair took more than 4 years to weave and were laid on the floor of the burial place of Shaikh Safi al-Din, the founder of the Safavid Dynasty. They were in the mosque of Arbadil (NW Persia) from 1539-40, when they were made on royal commission, till 1890 when they left Iran for England. The inscription of the weaver (who wasn’t really a slave, but probably using the word in humility)
The idea here is that the more you read of this THATMuse blog, the more likely you’ll be to find hints to existing THATMuse treasure… The more you read, the more you’ll win. This Ardabil carpet, however, is an exception. Not only would it be too easy to find in a THATVA, it is too fine to take photos of. Something sacred to even the THATMuse gods!
Except for the NY Times photo, all other photos were taken from the V&A.