An important Sultanabad carpet, Arak area, central Persia. A classical and outstanding Safavid design with a central medallion of entwined bands on a red field with tree pattern surrounded by a wide graceful palmette blossom main border.
dates back to the “carpets of the great period”, from the Shah Tahmasp I reign (1514–1576). The design of the present example is a combination of the mid-16th century Schwarzenberg ‘Paradise Park’ carpet at MIAQ (Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar) and the border of the Persian mid-16th century ‘Salting group Tiger carpet’ from the Poldi Pezzoli Museum, Milan, inv. no. 424.
Wool on cotton foundation, executed with a clear and colourful natural colour palette. App. 200.000 kn. pr. sqm. Late 19th century. 520×420 cm.
Among the various types of late nineteenth-century Persian room-size rugs that grew out of the grand tradition of classical era Safavid carpets, Sultanabads tend to stand apart for a number of reasons. Safavid Persian carpets were often monumental in size, but their designs tended to be finely detailed with countless curves, and the component motifs were relatively small in comparison to the size of the field.
Sultanabad carpets are one of many famous carpet types originating in the Arak area of central Iran. These Western-influenced carpets are very different from the Sarouk and Farahan carpets produced nearby.
Sultanabad was built on the remains of earlier settlements with the majority of construction efforts occurring between the late 1700s and mid-1800s.
The county quickly gained a reputation for its arts, crafts and cultural industries, including ceramics, metalworking and rug production, including the development of a unique antique rug style. Historical documents suggest the area played an important role in the commercialization of the rug industry as early as the 17th century.
The region’s reputation for producing high-quality rugs and carpets led to a fortuitous decision by the foreign export firm Ziegler and Co., who decided to establish workshops in the Sultanabad area sometime around 1883. This move gave Ziegler more control over their product and overseas profits.
The firm’s innovative marketing and product development strategies led to partnerships with designers from the prestigious Liberty of London department store as well as B. Altman and Company of New York. These designers revamped Safavid patterns from the 1500s and 1600s to suit Western tastes. Their formula centered on adapting and redrawing these elegant designs in a new selection of colours.