A Sultanabad Carpet that is truly wild and uninhibited. Style trends come. Style trends go. Great, individual art is forever. Art is not something that has to be hung on a wall and intently or idly contemplated. Sometimes it turns up elsewhere and it is no less creative because of it. Great art happens and it is up to us to appreciate it. Some rugs are great art, some are barely acceptable craft.
The Persian carpet revival began in the 1870’s and in the 1880’s the English firm of Ziegler established a substantial presence in and around the town of Sultanabad in Arak province in western Iran. Although a comprehensive firm in its provision of dyed yarn, other materials, designs and cash orders to a vast network of local village weavers, it never organized fixed workshops. Every Ziegler is a folk art production, some more regimented than others. Sometimes something truly exceptional comes through and this is one.
No cartoon, no design sampler here, just the work of a handful of true artists. The wild, eccentric design has no obvious center among the red and ivory escutcheon palmettes, or among the middle blue vertical pendanted cartouches. Everything tilts to one side, but not vertigo-inducing, just enough to give a sense of irregular motion. There is nothing like it in the vast corpus of published Ziegler Sultanabad carpets of the 1882-1930 period. There is nothing like it among Persian carpets period.
The rare yellow border takes as its pattern slices of the allover Herati field pattern omnipresent in Persian rugs, but here much less compact and structured, more crazy and informal. The jogs in the minor guard stripes indicate the “lazy lines” indicative of weaver changes and one day’s work. Who directed the artisans, or did they work on their own? Was eccentricity catching?
Although of carpet size (10.8 by 13.3) our Sultanabad occupies a firm place in the pantheon of true art, not just “carpet art”. Virtually all art is to some degree commercial. The question is not what is the art form, or what are the materials, or what is the originating culture or artist, or how old it is, but only how good it is. This carpet answers that question most admirably.