100 years of Opinions: 1900-2004

[Added april 2013:]

1926, Arthur Upham Pope, "Catalogue of a Loan Exhibition of Early Oriental Carpets" The Art Club of Chicago

Almost all of the so-called "sixteenth century Ispahans," of which there are not far from two thousand in America, are really seventeenth century carpets woven in Herat or in Lahore in North India, where these carpets were manufactured in vast quantities after they became popular in Europe.


1900, John Kimberly Mumford, Oriental Rugs

In the Tabriz bazaars the dealer has no idea what is meant by Teheran and Ispahan. And yet the types, as represented in America, are fairly well defined. After careful inquiry, and examination of rugs sold in Persia, I believe that all the fabrics called Teheran and Ispahan are the products of the village of Saruk in the Feraghan district, and, for the rest, vagrant pieces which come from the looms of Kirman, by the way of Bushire or the Indian ports, to England. p. 201/202


1902/1958, Bode and Khunel, Antique Rugs from the Near East

As to these weavings, [so-called Herat rugs] it still remains unproven whether they actually did originate in the capital of Khorassan, accredited as a carpet center…In the trade rugs of this class are known, probably quite unjustly, as "Ispahan rugs". p. 118


1904, Mary Churchill Ripley, The Oriental Rug Book

Approaching both the object and the country with the name Ispahan, we locate the beautiful sixteenth-century specimen which it is our good fortunate to study, as a palace carpet made when floral ornamentation had reached so high a state of perfction that a definite style had arisen and found favour. Upon a field of softest carmine red, palmate flower forms are scattered at intervals... p. 182, 183

[Caption to an Indo-Persian rug plate XII]: Sixteenth-century rug, size 6'11" x 4' 9'' , Oriental Expert's Description, "This rug was made in Portugal by expert weavers brought from the Orient. It was accidentally burned in 1881, in London, England. It has a most interesting private history which will be made public at some future day. Hadji Ephraim Benguiat. [in all probability Vitall Benguiat's brother] p. 96


1906, F.R. Martin, A History of Oriental Carpets Before 1800 in Oriental Rug Review reprint: vol V no 11, feb 1986

To enumerate all the European or American collections which possess carpets from Shah Abbas' and his followers' factories in Herat is almost impossible. One can say that nearly every collection of Mohammedan art in Europe, and especially in America, aspires to acquire, if it does not already possess, one or two of this kind. Particularly in America these carpets are much in demand, on account of having been represented by dealers as being contemporary with the discovery of America.

They are called by the carpet dealers Hispano-Moorish. They have acquired this name in the following way. Through bad pronunciation, or more probably through ignorance of Persia's geography, the word Isfahan (in Persia everything that is beautiful is said to have been made in Isfahan) was misunderstood and contorted into Hispan, and thereto as a matter of course Moorish must be added, because faiences and other fine things were called thus, and it sounded much better than Hispan or the incomprehensible Isfahan, and so they were given the name Hispano-Moorish. Having once acquired the name, it was an easy matter to convince uncritical collectors that they were really Hispano-Moorish, and accordingly, especially as in fact many fine ones were really found in Spain, dated from the time of the discovery of America.


1911, C.R. Clifford, Rugs of the Orient

The character of carpet made in the Herat neighborhood, at Meshed, Tun, Turshiz, kayin and Birjand presented conspicuously as a characterizing motif the palmette, and this motif became a distinguishing mark of the Herat.

Another motif associated with the palmette is the scroll, which appears everywhere in Persian art of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, but nowhere so much as in Herats....p. 95-96

Ispahan—The city of Spann, or Spahan, or Ispahan (by the Arabians called Isfahan), is known as the magnificent capital of the kings of the Sefi family, and especially during the reigh of Shan Abbas, exceeded in splendor all Asiatic cities..in the early Seventeenth Century we find in the Ispahan the influences of European culture and art.

The rugs that were made here were made as well as it is possible to make a rug, but all rugs found here are not necessarily of Ispahan manufacture.

Subsequent to 1731 when Herat industry was destroyed many Herat weavers moved to Tabriz.

The courts of Ispahan unquestionably were decked with Herat rugs and rugs from northern Khorassan, even from Kirman. The term Ispahan, apart from the characterizing design which followed the influence of Europe, differed little from the rugs of other sections. p. 96/97

Birjapore—From Birjapore come the prototypes of many of the carpets now commonly spoken of as Indian. These carpets are practically the same as the carpets of Herat. P. 101

The two rugs on the left are old “Bijapur” pieces from the Indian Art Exhibition at Delhi, 1903 [B&W photo of a possible Indo/Persian]


1911/1920, G. Griffin Lewis, The Practical Book of Oriental Rugs 1920 orig 1911


Many of the so-called Ispahans of the 16th and 17th centuries were really productions of Herat. p.195


Resemble the Khorasan in most respects. Aiyin and Kayin are names sometimes given to a coarse form of Herat. Many of the Herats of the 16th and 17th centuries are now erroneously called Ispahans.


1913/1937, Walter Hawley, Oriental Rugs p. 89

After careful research Dr. Martin believes that they came from Herat and with this idea some other authorities concur. ... It accordingly seems not improbable that the original type of these carpets was evolved at Herat and that many of them at least were made at Herat, but that others were also made at Ispahan. At any rate they were made to a great extent under the influence that emanated from Ispahan. p. 89


1922, Kendrick and Tattersall, Handwoven Carpets Oriental and European

The type of pattern in which the design is composed entirely of palmettes and floral stems, sometimes with the addition of cloud-bands is one of the best known of all. It is ascribed to the province of Herat, now united to Afghanistan, though under Persian rule during the flourishing days of carpet-weaving. p. 35

Carpets were also made at Ispahan, though apparently not in great numbers. There is little justification, as a rule, for the frequent attribution of old carpets to this former capital of Persia…There is much uncertainty in regard to the locality of manufacture of old Persian carpets, and attributions should be accepted with reserve. P. 36


1926, Arthur Upham Pope, "Catalogue of a Loan Exhibition of Early Oriental Carpets" The Art Club of Chicago

Almost all of the so-called "sixteenth century Ispahans," of which there are not far from two thousand in America, are really seventeenth century carpets woven in Herat or in Lahore in North India, where these carpets were manufactured in vast quantities after they became popular in Europe. Sixteenth century pieces are so uncommon it is worth while when one of this character is found to note the qualities which warrant the earlier dating...


1901/1927, Rosa Belle Holt, Rugs Oriental and Occidental Antique and Modern

1927 Supplement

The antique rugs of Ispahan (so called), are now known by most authorities as Herats. From investigations this seems to be a fact, at any rate, the rugs are magnificent, extremely rare and very valuable. The modern Ispahan rug is absolutely not in the same category with the older rugs. The texture of the former is, however, firm and durable. There are several interesting Herat rugs in the Imperial Museum at Constantinople. They appear to have been woven in the sixteenth century. p. 181


1927/1980, "The Pasha and the magic Carpets Part 2" by Wesley Towner, Hali , Vol 3 #1 anecdote: p. 12-13

"Almost from the outset there was trouble with [Vitall] Benguiat over the cataloguing of his rugs. The Pasha, as Hyam was well aware, knew a very great deal about rugs and textiles....His instincts were infallible, but his notions of history were based on hearsay. ..Scholarly books that had recently become available--- books the Pasha could not read--convinced Hyam that dealers, once the public's sole source of information about rugs, had perpetuated many myths. ..the place names from which rugs took their titles were frequently misleading: the great rugs called Isfahan had never rested on their looms in the shadow of the mosques of Shah Abbas, for few, if any, rugs were made at Isfahan...In vain the Major tried to play the diplomat. What matter if the Isfahans had been made at Herat?"


1928 Arthur Upham Pope, Article in "Arts and Decoration":

Scholars are reticent and modest in their claims. But the same cannot be said for many owners and dealers who name their antique rugs with a quick and easy confidence. The commonest of these names is Ispahan. Everybody has heard of Ispahan carpets (better called Isfahan) but probably no one living has ever seen one; certainly no one has yet produced one line of solid evidence to prove that fine carpets were ever woven in that famous and beautiful city. We know from many sources that silk and gold brocades were woven there but the only reference so far found to rug weaving, that of Raphael Du Mans, a French priest who lived in Isfahan in the middle of the seventeenth century, simply says that only a few very poor rugs were being woven there and that the weavers could scarcely make a living. The redistribution of rugs assigned to Isfahan is a pretty problem for it has been a custom in the trade for the last thirty years to call practically every fine sixteenth century carpet by that name.


1929, 14th edition Encyclopedia Brittanica

The term "Ispahan" is used in the trade to describe these early carpets...

Indo-Persian--...The ground is crimson and among the other colours, brilliant greens and yellows predominate. It is thought that they may have come from the neighbourhood of Herat.


1931, Arthur Dilley, Oriental Rugs and Carpets

Herat Rugs Called Ispahan

The best examples of the art were produced in the years preceding the installation of Abbas as Shah of Persia, and consequently before the selection of Ispahan as his capital city. Rubens, Van Dyck and many other painters utilized the original beauty and contributed to its European fame, which, overtaken by the fame of Ispahan, probably secured for the rug the city's name. ...

In all probability several places participated in the weaving, exactly as many villages to-day produce the modern Saruk. The variations are too great to warrant the supposition of a common source--so great that the class constitutes a style rather than a weave. The fine early work came from Herat, Persian metropolis between India and Ispahan, recently the great court of the Timurids. The reasons for the assignment are convincing. Here were still executed many of the finest examples of Persia's many fine arts, including the brocade that in pattern and color is almost identical with the finest Ispahan rug art. Here was the reputation for the best rug-weaving of Persia. Close at hand in the Afghan mountains were sheep that yielded the finest qualities of wool, lacking which no rugs can be great. Not far away was India, that imported many of the rugs; and in India were the Dutch and Portuguese traders who carried them to Europe.

Concerning the possibility that the weaving was taken up and continued at Ispahan, Olearius, who visited Ispahan in 1637, says: "There are near and about Ispahan one thousand four hundred and sixty villages, the inhabitants whereof are all in a manner employed in the making of tapestry [carpet] of wool, cotton, silk and brocade." The weaving soon languished, however. Raphael Du Mans, a French priest who lived in Ispahan about 1650, asserts that only a very few poor rugs were being woven, and that the weavers could barely make a living. p. 75-77 Pl XII Du Pont Herat (Ispahan) Rug, Late Sixteenth Century....


1935, Maurice S. Dimand, The Ballard Collection of Oriental Rugs

An important center of rug weaving was Herat in Eastern Persia. Often called Ispahan, the Herat rugs made in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries have an intricate allover pattern of floral scrolls with large palmettes...To Ispahan looms we may attribute the famous so-called Polish silk rugs...

One of the seventeenth century rugs is a so-called Ispahan, attributed to the looms of Herat in Eastern Persia, where fine rugs were made during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Herat rugs usually have a red ground decorated with an an allover pattern of floral scrolls, bearing a variety of large palmettes...
The so-called Polish rugs are another interesting variety of Persian rugs. They were probably manufactuered in Ispahan, at the end of the sixteenth and during the seventeenth century, as gifts of the shahs to European sovereigns and princes. There are two varieties of "Polish" rugs. One group is woven in silk only, the other with the addition of metal threads. The "Polish" rug in the Ballard collection belongs to the former group. The design is reminiscent of the so-called Ispahans...

Maurice Dimand, The Ballard Collection of Oriental Rugs in the City art Museum of ST. Louis, 1935


1952 [?] , C.J. Delabere May, How to Identify Persian Rugs and Other Oriental Rugs

The so-called Ispahans-fifteenth-to seventeenth-century antiques-were more probably woven at Herat, and specimens of these are still to be found upon the market today, although their contemporaries, the Animal carpets, Garden carpets, and other masterpieces of that golden age of Persian art, have long since disappeared from private hands into museums and collections of national importance. …p. 63

Plate XII Caption: An Ispahan rug. Our specimen is one of those famous 'so-called' Ispahans, which were in reality more probably made at Herat, and is easily to be recognized by the typical palmette forms and cloud bands…which it displays. Its principal Border stripe shows an interlacing Arabesque design, whose triple nature and protecting beak-like processes strongly suggest that it is a prototype of the well-known Khorassan stripe pattern of later days.


1962, Kurt Erdmann, Oriental Carpets


Back in the 16th [century] arose the class of the Ispahan carpets; at least the oldest examples did in any case. This name appears in European inventories at an early date, yet it is probable that it is not the production center but the center of exportation that is meant. Today these carpets are assigned to Eastern Persia, even if the grounds for this are not entirely convincing, and are called Herat carpets, after the district's focal city. Their earliest form is represented by a pair which were formerly Hapsburg possessions but may now be found in Vienna and in New York.


1966, Maurice S. Dimand, The Kevorkan Foundation Special Loan Exhibition

The Floral Herat patterns were very popular in other parts of Persia and frequently copied in Northwestern provinces and in Isfahan. Here in royal looms, established by Shah Abbas the Great, luxurious woolen carpets, often enriched with metal thread, were made. They show the Herat pattern but often differ in color, in certain floral motifs and in technique. To this group belong several fine woolen carpets preserved in the Shrine of Imam Ali at Al-Najaf (Iraq), and donated according to inscriptions "by the dog of this shrine Abbas," that is Shah Abbas the Great. A splendid carpet in the Kevorkian collection (pl. IV) belongs to this Isfahan type. In addition to floral scrolls this carpet shows two systems of arabesque bands with large naturalistic leaves not seen in carpets made in Herat. In its design this carpet is more related to the silk and woolen carpets made in court manuractories of Isfahan. [ref a Polonaise rug].


1966/1970, Kurt Erdmann, 700 years of Oriental Carpets

For some time 'Isfahan' carpets were called 'Herat', a name which was intended to indicate East Persia rather than the city, but this term is no longer fashionable. None of this is of fundamental importance if one realizes that only too often the name given to an Oriental carpet is nothing but a matter of convenience. P. 37

Fig. 175. Inv. Nr. I 33. So-called Isfahan carpet (265x180 cm). East Persia (Herat?), about 1600. Acquired 1906. It is strange that the Berlin collection did not…possess an important piece of this type which was still prevalent in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.p. 140

The production, in which a number of workshops participated, must have been extraordinarily large and exported at an early date. In North America and especially in Portugal examples, sometimes of enormous size, are found in all collections…... It is well known that the design of these 'Isfahan' carpets migrated to India. The Indian copies are relatively rare...p. 158


1973, Dimand and Mailey, Oriental Rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Floral Rugs of the Herat type

From the middle of the sixteenth century until the beginning of the eighteenth Persian looms produced rugs with an allover floral pattern, often combined with arabesques and cloud bands. One type, known in the trade as Isfahan, may be assigned to the province of Khurasan, and particularly to Herat, like the related animal rugs, exemplified by the Emperor's Carpets. These floral rugs, which vary considerably in size, were imported to Europe in great quantity, especially to Portugal, Spain, and Holland...Many of these so-called "Isfahans" are today preserved in Spanish and Portuguese churches and museums...p. 67

p. 71 The Herat patterns became very popular in other parts of Persia, and during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries they were copied in Isfahan, Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, and even in the Caucasus. Such rugs are often wrongly regarded as Herat rugs… …

Versions of Herat rugs made in Isfahan in the time of Shah Abbas have, in most cases, deep colors-dark red in the field, dark blue in the border-and a brocading of metal threads…The inner guard band…has a pattern of trefoils, characteristic of a number of silk rugs often attributed to Isfahan… The design of the field, too, is quite different from that of any of the Herat rugs. Scrolling arabesque bands...intersect each other and end in several places in double lanceolate leaves that have a strong naturalistic appearance...The field pattern is in many ways related to that of a number of rugs attributed to Isfahan--some of the so-called "Polish" silk rugs...p. 71


1977, Ian Bennett, Oriental Rugs and Carpets

To the city of Herat, once in the Persian province of Khorassan, but now inside the border of Afghanistan, is assigned a group of carpets with floral designs. Herat was the centre of Timurid court art and possibly the oldest weaving centre in Persia. P. 66
It should be noted that the name 'Isfahan' for floral Herat carpets of various sizes was given to the group by European merchants since that city was the market place for such pieces. Confusion between place of origin and place of marketing becomes ubiquitous in the late 19th and 20th centuries. The influence of early Herati designs was widespread, great numbers of pieces being imported into Europe and India. Floral carpets from all over Persia show the influence of Herati weaving; it is especially noticeable in the sickle-leaf pieces discussed above, and also in copies made in Isfahan. …p. 69

John Fryer, who visited the same city [Isfahan] in 1676, described the carpet bazaar which sold pieces 'woollen and silk, intermixed with gold and silver very costly, which are the peculiar manufacture of this country.' Another visitor, the Polish Jesuit missionary, Krusinskij, lived in Persia from 1702 to 1729, during and just after the last years of the Safavid dynasty. He wrote of the manufacture of silk textiles and carpets of Isfahan, which were made under strict supervision for use in the royal palace, although there was also a brisk export trade with Europe and India. P. 84


1978 , Friedrich Spuhler, Islamic Carpets and Textiles in the Kier Colletion

Carpets of this kind were exported to India and were copied there;...They are frequently to be seen in Dutch seventeenth-century paintings. It is mainly in countries which had trade-relations with India and Persia through the East India Companies, such as those of Holland and Portugal that they have been preserved. p. 90

The borders and the treatment of the details correspond to the Polish carpets and speak for a date in the seventeenth century; this gave rise to their being called Isfahan carpets. It is not impossible that these are examples of woolen Isfahan carpets. Carpets of this kind were exported to India and were copied there; it is often impossible to distinguish them. Therefore the designation Indo-Isfahan is occasionally met with. P. 90


1979, Murray L. Eiland , Chinese and Exotic Rugs, "The Rugs of India,"

Despite contemporary accounts identifying Herat as a carpet center, and despite the appearance of numerous rugs in Herat miniatures, not a single one of these paintings depicts a rug that could be identified as [Indo-Persian] ...Yet rugs clearly of the red-field, green-border type are occasionaly found in Indian miniatures, some so explicitly depicted as to leave no doubt as the the exact type of rug. p. 151

[The author covers the subject of Indo-Persian rugs exhaustively-- dividing the Indo-Herats into the classification 3a [Lahore group], 3b [controversial group], and 3c [Herat group].

[He deals not only with dye analysis, weaving technique, and the Jaipur inventories, but also discusses Persian and Indian miniatures, designs on contemporary Persian and Indian archetecture, and the appearance of rugs described as "de la India de Portugal" in 17/18th Spanish inventories.]


1983, Donald King and David Sylvester, The Eastern Carpet in the Western World

Carpets of this class were at one time often attributed to Isfahan. Now they are generally attributed to east Persia, partiularly Herat. But there is a strong possibility that many of them were made in India. The question of their provenance requires further research. V&A no. 721-1884 Silk warp, cotton welft, woollen pile with some cotton.


1986, C. G. Ellis re: Martin in Oriental Rug Review reprint: vol V no 11, feb 1986

How interesting it is, yet full of caution for us all, that although this chapter has been very influential in weaning scholars from the Isfahan of the dealers to Herat as the source of these prevailing floral and vine-scroll carpets, it should today seem much more likely [that they] had been produced in various part[s] of India in the seventeenth century, based variably upon Herat models which had a rather different palette and, to a degree, different construction. p. 15/499


1987, Friedrich Spuhler, Oriental Carpets in the Museum of Islamic Art, Berlin

That this [spiral-tendril] carpet was made in Persia is certain (see India page 105*) The relationship of the design to that of 'Polonaise' carpets made in Isfahan in the 17th century yet again supports the assumption that these carpets represent contemporary woolen carpets from the capital.

*The reason for the difficulty in distinguishing between Persian and Indian work is that the differences are to be found neither in their compositional principles nor in the distribution of the primary colours, but only in certain details. Among these are lancet leaf composed of blossoms, which is unknown in Persia...p. 105


1987, Hali #34, Ian Bennett Splendours in the City of Silkv p. 49

The three 'Isfahan' or 'Herat' carpets at Lyon, two complete and one fragmentary, are examples of one of the most common types of Safavid weaving, hundreds of which have survived in various states of preseration, from the pristine to the shadowy. Early in their history on the Western market, they were known as 'Isfahan' carpets but, following Martin's questioning of this attribution, they have usually been attributed to Herat. However, if it is accepted that the carpets of the 'Portuguese' group and others with a similar palette, wool and jufti-knotted pile are examples of 16th-17th century Khorasan weaving--especially given their close relationship to 19th and early 20th century Khorasan carpets--then it is difficult to believe that the red-ground carpets of the type under discussion were woven there also. It may well be that the early attribution to Isfahan was, in fact, correct.


1988, C.G. Ellis, Oriental Carpets Philadelphia

Probably Agra, another known source for Mughal carpets, was the place of origin of the great host of carpets in all sizes that featured the in-and-out palmette and coiling vine style of sixteenth-century Herat, but in a different color range from the Persian models. These carpets, which have been known at various times as Indo-Persian, Indo-Isfahan, or simply as Isfahan carpets, were long accepted as sixteenth-century pieces in the trade and by collectors. However, their origin in India at a somewhat later time now seems far more likely, especially in view of the enormous size of so many of these weavings. …Small carpets of this general type may have warps of silk or be decked out with silver-wound brocadings. Between the Indian carpets of this class and similar Persian carpets from Herat a fine line must exist, but it has not yet been defined precisely. Many of the Indo-Persian carpets may indeed be attributable to various places in the Deccan or elsewhere on the Indian peninsula, production being taken up in new areas as the fashion spread…in a series of carpets with silken warp the arabesque vines are kept very delicate and small-scale, yet with many split arabesque blossoms, employed with floral palmettes and cloud bands. It is still far from clear whether these tasteful rugs should be considered to be a superior grade of Indian, or actually Persian, Herat pieces. p. 211


1989, Roland Gilles, Joelle Lemaistre Tapis Present de L'Orient a L'Occident (Caption by Michael Franses)

The Safavid Shah Abbas I the Great moved his capital from Qazvin to Isfahan in 1598. He soon established artistic workshops in the new captial. He is known to have been particularly interested in the weaving of carpets and contemporary reports indicate that he both designed and wove carpets himself. The carpets now attribed to Isfahan fall into two distinct groups, one with a wool pile and, usually, with a red ground and the other with silk pile usually embellished with metal thread. The fragment shown here is from a compartively small group of red ground floral arabesque carpets with silk warps, superb drawing and, in most cases, birds and, less often, animals either in the field, main border or both.


1991, Onno Ydema, Carpets and their Datings in Netherlandish Paintings 1540-1700

After the Anatolian 'Lotto' type, the second type of carpet most frequently represented in 17th century Netherlandish paintings is the so-called floral and cloudband type...The East-Persian province of Khorasan, with Herat as its capital, has been mentioned by many 17th century travellers as the most important centre for the manufacture of such fine-quality carpets with a woollen pile, although scholars are still divided between Central Persia, Khorasan and India as possible places of their manufacture. p. 11


1991, Volkmar Gantzhorn, The Christian Oriental Carpet

Such carpets have usually been considered to be 'Indian'. Yet this assumption overlooked the fact that at the beginning of the 17th century foreign trade was conducted entirely by Armenians. In terms of the evolution of designs, these carpets must be counted among the earliest Isfahan-New Julfa carpets. p. 394

Ill. 531...: Isfahan, first half of the 17th century, 165 x 99 cm. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Lugano.
Ill. 532 Isfahan, early to late 1650's 277 x 144 cm. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection


1996/1999, Murray L. Eiland and Robert Pinner, eds., Oriental Carpet and Textile Studies "Some Wool Pile Persian-Design Niche Rugs," Michael Franses p. 73

Footnote 160: There is no evidence to support Beattie's attribution of the animal carpets to Herat in East Persia, and a central Persian origin is more likely; nor is there any evidence for an Indian attribution for the Braganza carpet. The latter is probably an example of the commercial-quality carpets produced in Esfahan and exported to Spain, Portugal and Holland in great numbers through the southern Persian port of Hormuz by the East India Companies* during the first half of the 17th century. The Braganza carpet, like hundreds of others, has numerous design, material, technical and stylistic features that can also be seen on many of the so-called "Polonaise" rugs that are now firmly attributed to Esfahan.

*[Source? The rugs that were shipped through Persian ports were probably the "rich" Polonaise carpets]


1997, Daniel Walker, Flowers Underfoot

The Indo-Persian question in particular has become very controversial over the last generation, chiefly because of the opinions of two highly respected specialists. May Beattie, seeking a way to explain differences in coloring and style, proposed that certain examples might well be Indian, whereas Charles Grant Ellis took the more extreme step of assigning the whole group to India, specifically Agra. These judgments notwithstanding, the author believes that technical and design features link the Indo-Persian carpets to other Persian production. This is a subject that deserves its own detailed study. …Finally there are the carpets themselves, whose patterns, materials, construction, and colors (and just one inscription) speak volumes about their manufacture if we are prepared to listen. pp. xvii -xviii


1999, Hali 105 July Aug Hali "Marketplace"

Whether to classify carpets of this type as Indian from the Deccan rather than Persian from Esfahan remains at the heart of the great debate over the so-called 'Indo-Persian' or 'Indo- Esfahan' carpets. Here the issue was further clouded by the fact that Christie's cataloguers tried to avoid the problem by calling their carpet 'North India, second half 17th century", which is most unlikely since no other huge, all cotton foundation, ordinary quality woollen pile 17th century north Indian carpet has Z4S cotton warps. With that structure it would have to have been made either in south-central Iran or south-central India, and if one believes the story circulated by the Benguiat brothers when they sold it...this carpet was one of a pair already in the possession of the Duke of Braganza when he became King of Portugal in 1640...Stylistically, this is certainly possible.


1999 Hali 105, Marketplace When in 1972, Beattie first suggested that the Braganza carpets might be Deccani, it was a radical proposal, but she was supported by Charles Grant Ellis who also suspected that many previously presumed Persian carpets were in fact Indian. Since then others (Daniel Walker, Flowers underfoot) have expanded that work and have attempted to define the basic characteristics of typical Deccani carpets. On that basis most authorities, including Friedrich Spuhler in his new catalogue of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection....now classify the Braganza carpets as Persian because of their more Persian warp structure (Z4S instead of Z5-8S), lack of genuine ton-sur-ton colouring, lack of specific Indian design features such as elaborate racemes, and so on. But the debate is by no means over. p. 114


1999, Sept Nov Hali 106, John Mills,"Updating Thyssen" book review

The second large 'palace' carpet of the collection, the Braganza carpet, falls within the group once called variously 'Herat', 'Indo-Esfahan' or 'Indo-Persian'. Beattie rather sat on the fence as regards an Indian or a Persian origin for them though she leaned towards the former, following the views of Charles Grant Ellis. Now that the Indian carpets are more easily recognized by their technical features, the others have been generally attributed to Esfahan itself, and this is followed by Spuhler. In the case of the Braganza carpet--so-called because it and its pair...are believed to have been those used in 1640 at the coronation of the Duke of Braganza as John IV of Portugal--he finds parallels in the design with those of the 'Polonaise' carpets and particularly those known to have been woven in Esfahan. This is, of course, one of Spuhler's particular areas of interest. pp 106, 107


2001, Hali 114 Jan Feb, Steven Cohen, "Safavid and Mughal Carpets in the Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon" p. 81

Until quite recently, Gulbenkian's splendid 17th century north Indian medallion carpet would probably have been described as 'Indo-Esfahan' or 'Indo-Persian both are terms which, today, could only indicate that one had no idea whether it was made in India or Iran. Thankfully, after decades of research by Kurt Erdmann, May Beattie, Ellis and more recently Jon Thompson and Daniel Walker, specific structural and design characteristics have been identified which allow us to differentiate most Indian 'Esfahan type' carpets from their Persian models. This process is not yet complete; Deccani carpets still present the greatest obstacles because they are closest in structure, design and palette to Persian prototypes. But there is no doubt that the Gulbenkian carpet, with its dynamic large medallion, is an Indian original.


2001, April 4, Sotheby auction

So popular were these arabesque and lotus palmette design carpets, that they were produced in substantial numbers for the domestic nobility and the western market. Their format was copied, almost instantaneously, by other weaving centers both in Persia and in Mughal India. The attribution of such carpets is often in dispute, ranging from Isphahan, to Herat, to Northern India, with the catch-all origin of Indo-Isphahan being often used. Although published by Christies[October 1996] as being of Mughal production, citing the use of pink detailing on a red ground, the slight degeration of the trellis system with its disassociated palmettes and the inclusion of a mustard yellow color, the technical analysis of the present lot is not inconsistent with Isphahan production. White cotton detailing can be found in 17th century Isphahan rugs such as Sotheby's New York, 16 December 1998, lot 186. Warp cotton Z2S,ivory. Pile some cotton.


2002, Hali 125 Nov Dec 2002 Textile gallery advertisement, p. 70/71

For the past fifty years, writers have quite arbitrarily chosen Herat as the place of manufacture for carpets of the 'Sangiorgi' [finest quality drawing and weave/silk warps] type. Progenitors of this ludicrous idea have put as one of their reasons the fact that Shah Abbas did not move his capital to Esfahan until the last decade of the sixteenth century-and stated that such outstanding examples could only have been made in the capital. However, extraordinary masterpieces were clearly being woven in numerous centres in Persia from the late fifteenth century onwards and it is evident that carpets of the 'Sangiorgi' type do not relate through drawing, colour or weave to carpets known to come from the Khorasan region, and that attributing them to Herat must therefore be considered foolhardy to say the very least.


2003, Hali 127 "The Senator's Carpets."

Particularly strong in Persian carpets from the Safivid period (1501-1722), the collection includes several so-called 'red- ground Esfahan' carpets with scrolling vin-and-blossom field designs...The origin of these carpets has been the subject of considerable debate. Today, as when Clark acquired them at the beginning of the 20th century, most scholars assign them to Esfahan in central Persia, capital of Shah Abbas the Great from the first years of the 17th century. However they have also been linked to Herat, the major centre in the northeastern province of Khorasan during the early years of the Safivid period. Variations of their vine-and-blossom motifs also appear on a group of 17th century carpets attributed to Lahore...in northern India. These, however, differ in structure and palette from the Persian examples p. 41


2003, Hali 129 "Classical Context," Michael Franses, p. 69

An interesting touch was putting a 17th century central Persian rug, probably from Esfahan, above a contemporaneous Mughal rug from Lahore. These two have been presented together before by Daniel Walker at the Met in his outstanding 1997 exhibition 'Flowers Underfoot'. To be able to compare directly the different manner in which almost identical designs were created was very useful, and these two rugs, although not masterpieces, are also quite pretty. It is possible that both were made to compete for the European markets for such rugs through the Dutch East India Company. It is a shame that certain rug scholars with surnames beginning with 'E' could not have seen them together, as then perhaps the carpet literature might have been more logical.


2004, Hali 134, "Indian or Persian?" by Steven Cohen

But what about a Deccani carpet with a typical Persian structure and no north Indian secondary design features? I have no doubt that such carpets exist, but how will we ever identify them?


To be continued, no doubt!