Cotton pile rugs were woven in Agra for both domestic use during the summer, and for export as an alternative to wool pile pieces in more saturated colors. The tonality is generally lighter, nearly pastel, and the number of colors in fewer than on a wool carpet. Cotton yarn has less absorbency than does wool or silk, thus the same dyes produce a softer tonality.
The indented directional lattice displaying the foil flowering plants is derived directly from Deccani carpets of the 18th Century. The Deccani sultanates, south of the Mughal empire, wove carpets in styles simplified from their Mughal archetypes. The lattice repeat was extremely popular and easy to weave. Daccani silk rugs of the circa 1800 period are frequently on a yellow ground and display repeating lattice patterns. This rug (#19973) appears to be a later interpretation of this style.
The border, the so-called “open kufesque” type is featured on “lotto” and small-pattern “Holbein” rugs from Ushak in western Turkeym from the mid 15th Century until the end of the 16th Century. The designer of this Agra worked from a book illustration to produce this interpretation of a classic pattern. Rug books with color illustrations began to appear in the 1890’s and Indian manufacturers were among the first to utilize them to produce innovative patterns.
research by Peter Saunders