Rugs of the Week (Akstafa,Shirvan)

Two Very Interesting Caucasian Long Rugs.

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#19752 Akstafa Rug, 4’0″ x 10’10”

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#21711 Shirvan Rug , 3’8″ x 11’0″

Our Caucasian Blog only briefly sketched the range of types from this mountainous region of a thousand languages and ethnicity. Here are a couple a particularly interesting pieces that help to expand on our remarks.

Good things do not last at Rahmanan! Somebody else may be interested in these rugs, but you still have a chance. Anyway, you can still see why attention should be paid. Consider the Akstafa. Our Caucasian Rug blog of last week did not mention Akstafa as a distinct type. Indeed, nobody did until the 1980’s.Located and regular between  Gendje and  Shirvan,  this highly individual weaving district seems to have almost exclusively specialized in just two rug types: a long rug, as here, with pairs of peacocks around eight-point medallions, on navy or brown-black fields, with a close scatter of smaller geometric devices. The more variety in these elements, the better the rug. Since our example has a particularly dense fill, it must be, and is very good. A true work of folk art. The other Akstafa design appears on prayer design rugs of smaller format and is usually an allover boteh (paisley) pattern. Both types employ the same ivory border with hooked squares. Akstafa seems not to have woven scatter rugs. Do not cut these artistically intriguing long rugs to make scatters!.

Rug no. 21711 (3.8 by 11.0) is a particularly fine example from a rare group of mid-19th century Shirvan long rugs, almost always with radiant blue, more or less open, grounds. A few simple geometric devices scarcely interrupt the open window character of the long royal blue ground. One can virtually step through it, into…….This rug is the aesthetic antithesis of the Akstafa, saying a lot with very little. Minimalist modern art has nothing  on this piece.Neither rug is more valid, more beautiful than the other. This Shirvan long  rug, one of a select group of no more than a few dozen known examples, employs, as almost all the others do, a poly chrome border of triangles, the so-called ‘Dragon’ pattern, which to our eyes looks more like a parade of wedgie shoes! So call it the colorful wedgie shoe border. Several examples of this select group are dated before 1850, and no. 19711 may be significantly older than our ultra-conservative attribution. The weave is neat, even  and regular

Are these rugs collectible? If you want to hang them vertically,then better have a mansion or country estate with tall ceilings, or you can roll them out for carpet aficionados to drool over. Or you can just treat them right and live with them and love them. What’s not to like?

Details of rugs.

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#19752 Askstafa Rug

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#19752 Askstafa Rug

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#21711 Shirvan Rug

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#21711 Shirvan Rug

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Caucasian Rugs: A Brief Blogging Introduction

The Caucasus is the mountainous area between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. Now divided between Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and several Russian administrative republic, it was, in its rug producing heyday (the 19th century) a group of Russian  Empire provinces whose southern border with Persia was defined as the Araxus River and whose northern reaches extended to the Greater Caucasus mountain range. Except for a few larger towns like Baku, Shemakha, Erivan, Tiflis and Shusha, the population resided in virtually uncountable mountain villages and comprised numerous ethnicities and language groups. In general, Christians were to the west in Armenia and Georgia while those of Islamo-Turkish extraction settled in the east along the western Caspian from Lesghistan in the north to Shirvan-Baku in the south.  In the Moghan steppe to the very southeast were a group of tribes sharing designs and ethnicity with  closely related Persian nomads across the border. It must be emphasized that until the border was formalized and closed in the 1860’s, peoples, designs and rugs moved freely through the area of Northwest Iran and the Caucasus, and the intermingling of influences is evident in the surviving antique Caucasian rugs.

The second half of the 19th century was the most important for Caucasian rugs and most available antique Caucasian carpets are from that era, although the oldest examples, the Shusha  Karabagh “Dragon” carpets date well into the 17th century.

It should be noted that virtually all Caucasian rugs are in scatter sizes, with prayer (niche) rugs generally smaller. Kazak rugs are often square in format while runners and long rugs are more of an eastern or southeastern specialty. Some large, gallery format carpets were woven in the Karabagh and  soumac flatwoven carpets up to 20’ long are known.

Rugs can be roughly divided by weave and thus geography. From the southwest come the coarsest, most strongly abstract pieces, the Kazaks. These have long piles, large areas of plain colour, wholly abstract geometries. There are numerous subtypes assigned to particular village origins. The villages of Bordshaly , Sewan, Karachof, Lori Pambok, Lambalo are all  famous in rug lore. But plenty of artistically significant pieces have no exact attributions.

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#18004 Caucasian Kazak 4’7″ x 3’4″

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#22869 Caucasian Kazak 6’10” x 5’10”

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#18392 Caucasian Kazak 7’3″ x 6’2″

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#21670 Caucasian Kazak 9’9″ x 5’8″

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#19479 Caucasian Kazak 6’10” x 4’0″

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#20061 Caucasian Kazak 5’2″ x 3’9″

The Karabagh area just to the east of the Kazak region, also wove long pile carpets, but often with a Persian influence. Often lumped with Kazaks, our, are attractive representatives of the group.

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#18180 Caucasian Kazak 7’6″ X 5’0″

The Gendje district is to the east and is best known for its colouful, diagonally striped long rugs, of which our number 18731 is a classic example.

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#18731 Caucasian Moghan 8’0″ x 3’9″

The short pile eastern Caucasian rugs have wider colour palettes and more intricate designs than do the western Caucasian pieces. Kazaks average about 40 knots to the square inch, while Kubas and Shirvans run about 70. The wild power of shaggy Kazaks is transmuted to elegance and precision in Kubas and Shirvans. All Caucasian rugs are symmetrically (Turkish) knotted.

The best known of the fine weave, short pile eastern Caucasian rugs originate in the Kuba (north) and Shirvan (south) areas along the west Caspian. Like the Kazak area, there are numerous village subtypes, each with its characteristic design(s), weaves and colour schemes. Among them is the Karagashli (no. 20807), Marasali (almost always in prayer rug format, no. 18769), Zeychor (21797, 19632),  Lesghi (17967) and Chi-chi (21869)).  There are plenty of fine quality pieces, however, that have no precise village attribution (our 6583, 19663, for example), but are still worthy of attention.

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#20807 Caucasian Karaghashli 4’9 x 3’3″

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#18769 Caucasian Shirvan 7’8″ x 4’11”

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#21797 Caucasian Zeychor 7’0″ x 4’2″

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#17967 Caucasian Lesghi 7’3″ x 4’0″

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#19663 Caucasian Kuba 7’2″ x 3’10”

Rugs from the steppe area to the extreme southeast have their own special character. The Talish long rugs often have open, plain fields , while Moghan rugs often have smaller repeating designs.

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#18768 Caucasian Moghan 8’10” x 3’2″

Flatwoven rugs were also made in the Caucasus. The weft-wrapped soumacs, primarily from Kuba, are found in room sizes, usually with colourful repeating medalions. Lighter in weight than soumacs are the banded Shirvan and multi-medallion Kuba kilims, generally in 6’ by 9’ sizes. Of course, the relatively coarse technique precludes fine details, but they are bold and wholly geometric, and work well as wall hangings as well as on the floor.

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#4909 Caucasian Soumak 10’0″ x 8’6″

 

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#20350 Caucasian Soumak 17’4″ x 11’2″

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#20343 Caucasian Kilim 10’6″ x 5’0″

This is only the briefest overview of a very complex and elaborate rug genre, the subject of numerous books and specialist articles. We will periodically return to this  always popular and fascinating area in our Rug of the Week blog when something of superior quality and artistic interest catches our attention.

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Rug of the Week

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Rug #23362 Chinese Ningxia 12’0″ x 10’8

Antique Ningxia Chinese Carpet

10.8 by 12.0

  1. 1800

We  LOVE Chinese carpets.  Absolutely.

Rahmanan has the largest collection of Antique Chinese Rug and Carpets in New York. In America. In the world. In the galaxy. In the universe. Period.

A prime example is our recent acquisition number 23362, an over square  antique Chinese Ningxia carpet with a delectable salmon-pink field, and lotus of paeonies and lotuses as decorative motives. Not to mention fluttering butterflies. The delightfully intense salmon-rose field was produced by a naturally fugitive vegetable dye and it is very rare to find the colour so well preserved. In the center of the field is a medallion composed of an outer lotus wreath and an inner roundel with a flowering prunus branch, with en suite lotus corners. Paeony stems with white or dark blue flowers are strewn about the field. More lotuses appear in the well-executed navy main border.

Pink rugs are supposed not to sell. But this is no ordinary pink and no ordinary rug. The condition is exceptional for something of this age and the wider than tall format is equally unusual.

The texture is soft and the handle flexible. It has had no restorations or repairs.

The carpet screams ‘elegant’, but not fussy or busy. Of course, the perfect accompaniment is classic antique  Chinese huanghuali or zitan furniture, but what a splash of colour this antique Chinese carpet makes in a contemporary interior. Chinese pinks are like no others, rich yet mellow, saturated yet warm.  Amazingly, this carpet is modern and simultaneously so antique.

The square dimensions make it particularly versatile, either as a neat room filler or as a spectacular accent area rug in a loft.

This carpet is one of many exceptional square large antique Chinese Ningxia carpets in our inventory, ranging up to about eighteen feet on a side. Nobody else has this kind of depth of collection. Consult our website  for further examples.

23362-D8

 

 

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Peking Carpet Blog for Rahmanan

The Antique Peking Chinese Rug

Carpets have been woven in Peking (Beijing) since the sixteenth century, but the best and most relevant  era of antique Peking Chinese rugs classic  is the 1880-1930 period. The range of formats, sizes, designs and colors is exceptionally broad. Oval and round rugs, small scatters  through room size to mansion dimensions, traditional through Art Deco, blue and white and polychrome. This blog is only a brief overview of a few salient types and styles, and to go deeper would take a full book.

The Chinese invented, first in porcelains and then in other art forms, the blue and white color scheme. Nothing is more classic and says “Chinese” better than an ivory field with a royal blue border or vice versa.  Add some paeonies, cloud scroll arabesques, swastika fret allover pattern, exotic Chinese objects, seasonal flowers, birds and butterflies and bats, and the result is always in the best of taste. The Chinese artistic vocabulary is virtually limitless and antique Chinese Peking carpets draw on all of it. Blue and white may be rendered in a classic 18th century Ningxia style, in a rigourous two-tone Shou medallion carpet or in an oval layout in an antique Fette carpet with a cloud scroll field. Blue and white works well in a more Deco approach with a one corner deer and crane mini-landscape.

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#2598 Peking Rug 14’6″ x 12;2″

Antique Peking rugs can be totally pictorial in the manner of hanging scrolls employing symbolic animals such as cranes, seasonal trees like the pine or bamboo, and one cloud variant or another. Or they can display a ship (junk) before the wind, on a rose tone ocean. Scholar’s rocks, perforated and knobby, are a pictorial mainstay on antique classic Peking carpets. The horizontal handscroll format is perfect to illustrate Daoist immortals or other mythical persons. The smaller pictorial rugs make great wall hangings.

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#21807 Peking 5’10” x 4’0″

There are rare antique Peking rugs: the small round piece illustrated here with a charcoal open field and dragons with phoenixes seems to be unique. The cracked ice pattern, so frequent on porcelains, seems to be quite uncommon on traditional allover patterned antique Peking carpets.

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#19643 Peking 10’5″ x 9’9″

Peking carpets never went as chic as Tientsin (Tianjian) Art Deco carpets with their bold moderne tonalities and wholly abstract pattern. The Fette-LI Company, established around 1923 by Helen Fette,  specialized in a less hard edged style with motives adapted from textile and jades in traditional antique Chinese carpet colors, but in renditions tailored to American taste. Round and oval antique Chinese rugs were a Fette specialty. Fettes were the most popular of Peking Chinese carpets in the interwar period.  In addition, there were numerous now anonymous Chinese firms producing attractive carpets for American importers.

#20104 Peking 9’6″ x 8’2″

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Rug of the Week: Sultanabad 21242

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.

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#21242 Sultanabad Rug 13’3″ x 10’8″

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The Shou Symbol on Antique Peking Chinese Carpets

 

Chinese art loves symbols whether they are calligraphic, pictorial, animals or flowers, objects or natural phenomena. It is difficult to find a Chinese carpet without some symbolic elements.  The “Shou” motif is one of the most popular designs that say “Chinese”.  The motif  literally means “long life” in its original calligraphic character form. The character has been stylized into two basic types, each with two sub types. A round, closed version is found in simplified and somewhat more complex variations. The other form is more calligraphic, open and squared, with more and less elaborate sub types.  Antique Peking blue and white carpets have made liberal use of the Shou element in both field and border.

An obvious use of a bold round Shou medallion is to center the entire composition on an otherwise plain field. But it is actually quite uncommon, especial when executed in a restricted palette of two blue tones, with no white or secondary hues. The effect is elegant, striking and timeless, the perfect Chinese carpet accompaniment to Art Deco or Modern furnishings.

A large scale rendering of either form of the open Shou character as a central medallion does not seem to occur on Antique Peking Chinese rugs.

The Shou can appear in small form as part of an overall pattern.

 

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The main border is a frequent home for the round Shou motif, especially on small Chinese scatter rugs in the blue and white palette. A few examples employ it in both field and border, and in equal scale.

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#22391 Chinese – Peking 2’3″ x 4’6″

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#23011 Chinese – Peking 8’0″ x 9’6″

The small scale, open, square form is popular on blue and white antique Chinese rugs either as a border or field pattern. The Fette-Li company in Peking in the interwar period employed many unique designs based on traditional Chinese textiles, bronzes, jades and ceramics, but, surprisingly did not make extensive use of the Shou symbol. For an exception see number 22975. Fette carpets resemble no others from the 1920-30’s yet they are still recognizably Chinese without being “Chinesey” or otherwise blatantly exotic.

A particularly felicitous effect comes from employing both open and closed Shou types in a single rug. Again, as always, the blue and white palette again provides the best context whether on room size, scatter or the more uncommon runner format. Antique Peking Chinese Carpet no. 18567 is an extremely elegant and rigourous creation employing a restricted entirely blue colour scheme and bold border execution. The basic notion of a narrow colour scheme with an open sapphire blue field is common to our nos. 23269 and 18567.  These carpets could have come from the same workshop with the same designer.

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#23279 Chinese – Peking 2’0″ x 2’0″

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#17517 Turkish Oushak: Circa 1890

Rug #: 17517

Type:  Oushak

Origin: central Anatolia – Turkey

Size: 15’6” X 31’6” (475 X 965 cm)

Circa: 1890s

Foundation: hand spun Z twist wool

Pile: hand spun wool

Main Colors: soft blue-green, gold, green, soft pink, ivory

The present carpet is a fine example of the desirable decorative style of Turkish Oushak carpets from the late 19th century.

The large size of this carpet alone is quite unusual considering its age.  Many larger sized Oushaks were woven later, around 1910-1920.  This is the largest antique Turkish Oushak that we have acquired at Rahmanan to date.

The combinations of the subtly rich blue-green and gold colors in the piece indicate a palette that was chosen for an export market such as Europe or America.  The overall large scale pattern of the rug makes it work decoratively in more modern settings, even today.

Many of the early 20th century Oushaks of this size were made with a crab design.  Our piece has a more sophisticated design and weave to it, with a quality and elements similar to that of a Ziegler Sultanabad.

The informal nature of the pattern, paired with the vibrant colors chosen provides a timeless beauty that will continue to find a place in many design styles.

to view this rug on our website, please use the following link:

http://rahmanan.com/inventory/show/17517/

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#18425 Kerman – Lavar: Circa 1900

Rug#: 18425

Origin: SE Persia

Type: Kerman – Laver

Size: 9’8” x 21’2”

Warp: hand spun cotton

Weft: hand spun cotton

Pile: wool

Sides: 2 ply wool

Circa: 1900

Main Colors:  soft blues, navy, beige, ivory, tan, soft gold.

The present carpet originates in SE Persia, specifically the Ravar region of the Kerman province.  The town and surrounding regions have a long history of rug making, dating back to at least to the beginning of 17th century.

The formality of this rug is evident, with rows of flower-filled lozenges creating an almost architectural lattice feel.  This style of alternating lines can be seen in other Ravar patterns of this period, and seems to be a lingering pattern type popular in the late 19th century carpets of this area. The rug is in relatively good condition (evenly low) considering Kermans of this type were usually woven with a thin pile to start.

Because of its location in a mountainous region of SE Persia, the sheep bred in the area have long produced the highest quality wool.  For this reason, the rugs coming from this region have all been produced using the most lustrous and luxurious wool, which over time has improved just by simple process of being walked on.

Kermans and related type rugs such as Ravar and Yazd carpets are amongst the most sought after antique carpets in today’s market. Their generous dimensions, subtle color combinations and fanciful patterns make them appealingly adaptable to room settings of varied décor.

The price of Kermans with good balance of color and composition have steadily risen, while pieces of average quality have dropped.

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#40-570 Flander Tapestry: circa 1700

Flemish Tapestry Panel
Audenarde, c. 1600
8’1” x 9’5”
Warp: wool, ivory to light brown, some mixing, natural, Z-Z-S 8-9 warps/in., a few areas up to 12/in.
Weft: wool, Z-1, Z-Z-S, 28-30 pattern shouts/in;
Woven sideways, left to right, on a horizontal loom as finer pieces were done vertical looms.
Generally in good condition with colors well preserved; small areas of reweaving or re-wefting; plain outer salvage trimmed with loss of town and weaver’s marks. Some brown outlines improved.

Depicts:

King David (to right) gives Uriah the Hittite (on left) a secret order to be conveyed to the commending general ??????. This order places Uriah in the frost line of battle, thereby assuring his demise. Uriah is the husband of Bathsheba whom David covertly covets and who will marry him after Uriah is killed. David’s penitence will eventually follow.

Probably from a Life of David series or perhaps from a series of old Testament scenes. There seem to be no other panels from this cycle recorded in the literature.

Attribution: The attribution to the provincial weaving town of Audenarde is loused or close similarities to pieces possessing the town & weavers’ marks in the outer plain border. Diagnostic are the following stylized background elements:

  1. The “building block” castle;
  2. The round, puffy “cotton ball” trees in rows blanketing the landscape.
  3. Pointy, sharply outlined distant mountains.

In comparison we may consider:

  1. H. Gőbel, Tapestries of The Lowlands, no. 357, a landscape with similar, but better, mountains and trees.
  2. Christie’s, London, Mayorcas Sale, 12.2.99, lot 316, Game Park 9’5” x 14’6”, 16c (late) with similar pointy mountains, cotton ball trees, identical trees, and similar foreground foliage elements. All wool, no silk. Probably from the same workshop as our example, but lacking identifying marks. Sold for ₤40,000 = $64,800
  3. The same pointy mountains with cotton ball trees appear in a panel from a different Life of David set depicting the Death of Absalom, 3.27 x 5.25m, end of the 16c., Beaune, Musee des Hospices. Pub in Dhondt, no. 9.

The curly hair and beards arc virtually identical to our example which is from a                                                                                               somewhat less distinguished series, however.

Interestingly, de Meuter in her magisterial surrey of Audenarde weaving does not focus on any Life of David series. Could our example be from a later edition of the same cartoon as the Beaune examples, albeit with different borders? The Beaune piece has a town mark, but lacks that of the weaver.

  1. The same mountains and trees recur in tapestry of Jason & Medea with Golden Fleece, c 1580-1600, 3.04m x 4.24 from the Abbey of Kremsműnster (de Meuter, p. 177)
  2. The same larger trees, mountains, etc. again appear in a Game Park panel, 1580-1600, with an unidentified weaver’s mark from the Audenardo Galerie d’Art M. Ragge-De Baere (de Meauter, p. 178) The floral border with round cartouches centering each side is no identical to recent published examples, but there are the same useful parallels.
  3. Similar elliptical/round cartouches in border centers appear on a Game Park examples, c.1580 – 1600 (de Meuter, p-143). The trees and mountains are also in the usual formula. The weaver’s mark, again & alas, is not identified. The border on our example was constructed from
    1. The left and right borders (left woven first) are identical in content and direction’s
    2. The top border is an axial reflection across the centre;
    3. The lower border uses the same cartoon as the upper with similar axial reflection, but in addition.
    4. The pumpkin still life is inverted from right to left;
    5. The central roundels with castles are unchanged in both end borders.

These simple manipulations of a few basic modules allow the weaver to produce variety without the expanse of additional cartoon. This is characteristic of production for the middle class in a provincial production centre.

Diagrammatically we see

The castles in the roundels are top/bottom and right/left identical, and are generic buildings with no reference to particular estates.

  1. Gőbel, no. 448 has side borders repeated in the same direction and has roundels in the centers of all 4 sides. He dates it c.1640 but clearly it seems earlier, c.1610
  2. A Brussels panel, early 17c. 8’8” x 11’4” with an unidentified Biblical scene was sold Sotheby’s N.Y., 23.5.03, lot 81, est. $10 – 15,000. It was of slightly finer execution and equally preserved color. (see p. for more comperanda).

Weaving in Audenarde is comprehensively covered in two recent exhibitions catalogues:

L. DeMeuter, M. Vanwelder, etc. al Tapesseries d’Audenarde du XVI au XVII Siecles, Tiele, 1999

L. Dhondt and F. Van Ommeslaeghe, Audenarde: Tapisseries Flamandes du XVI au XVIII Siecles, Arras, 1994

The illustrations only partly overlap and neither includes additional members of the series of our piece, thus it seems to be unknown to the specialist literature.

  1. Of roughly the same quality and period, but slightly larger is a hunting tapestry from Audenarde, end 16c. 8’9” x 11’2”, sold Sotheby’s, N.Y., 13.1.95 lot 78, est. $20-25,000
  2. A Biblical panel, c.1600 probably from nearby Enghien, 10’6” x 12’9” was sold Sotheby’s, N.Y. 6.6.94, lot 168, est. $20-25,000
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#18888 Tapestry: circa 1650

Rug #18888
Subject: Scene from a life of Moses Series, probably the reconciliation of Miriam and Zipporah
Size:10’1” x 12’8” (3.07m x 3.86m).
Period: Late 16th / early 17th century.
Origin: Brussels, no mark
Maker: No mark.
Structure: Warp, wool, tan natural, Z-4-s, 19 – 20/in.
Weft: wool Z-2, 60-64/in and
Silk, Z-2 or z-3, 68-74/in

Iconography:

The likely cast of characters is follows:

  1. Moses with halo in center, slightly to rear, presiding over the foreground event, the “horns” of the Old Testament text refer actually to rays of light. The goat-like protuberances of later art are really a literal and incorrect reading of the text.
  2. The pair of figures on the left hefting an urn-like Ark of the Covenants one of which with a particularly fine back view and striped loincloth, are very Mannerist in style, indicating an origin in Italy, outside the Netherlands, in the circle of some early 16th century artist, possibly Giulio Romano, Mark Antonio Raimondi, Rosso Fiorentino or someone else of that trend. The figures are imported as a unit into the composition. Interestingly the two figures and their burden reappear in the 17th century French tapestry of the Triumph of Alexander after Charles Le Brun, but they have been swung around to nearly parallel the picture plane, although the rear orientation of the figure is still prominent.
  3. The two female figure in the foreground may well be
    1. On the left Zipporah, the wife of Moses; and
    2. On the right Miriam, the sister of Moses.
  4. A servant woman holds the train of Zipporah
  5. Other Israelite women.

Miriam and Zipporah are reconciled after a long period during which Miriam criticizes and speaks out against Moses and his policies as tribal leader. For this she is punished by God: her skin instead of being the brownish hue of the Israelites becomes white. Only when she ceases her dissent is she healed. This event may be depicted here. (cf Ex.. 4:14-16, Micoh 6:11, Deut. 24:9 for details)

The life of Moses was depicted in various other sets from 1530’s on ward with among others the following subjects:

  1. Passage of The Red Sea
  2. Brazen Serpent
  3. Finding Gathering of Manna
  4. Moses Receiving The Tables of The Law
  5. Rebecca and Eleazar
  6. Moses Prohibited from Setting Foot in The Promise Land
  7. Worship of The Golden Calf
  8. Joshua Defeats Amalek at the Battle of Rephidim

Among the extant sets we may list:

  1. The earliest a series of 9 panels (of 10), Brussels, 1530-40, designed by Bernard Van Orley and woven by Jan Gheetels, at Chateau Chateaudunt Somzee Coll.
  2. Another set from the same cartoon also woven in Brussels, lacking a maker’s mark, 1545-1554, 9 panels (of 10) at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.
  3. Five panels (of 10), c. 1575 woven by Martin Reymbouts in Brussels now at the Chartres Musee De Beaux Arts, given in 1578 to the cathedral by Bishop Nicolas de Thou
  4. Two panels (of 10) in the San Francisco Palace of The Legion of Honor; Brussels, c. 1550, possibly by Peter II van Aelst (unknown artist, but the same as that for the panel from the life of Jacob in the same museum, some of the same figures are even used)
  5. 7 panels (of 10) from Oudenarde, 2nd half of the 16th century, now Monuments Historiques de France, much more traditional in style and lacking the Italianate mannerist elements. The whole effect is more planar and flat. The border could have come from a Verdure.

The Life of Moses was popular later, and a set of indeterminate size, was woven in 1660’s in Brussels by Jan Parmentier with one panel, in square format, surviving.

Apparently there are other panels surviving from The Life of Moses, but whether they constitute disjecta membra of true a series relating just Moses or whether they are single mosaic episodes along with other O.T. scenes in different cycles is open to question. They could belong with such non-mosaic scenes as Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark, David and Goliah, Susanna and The Elders, David and Bathsheba, the Judgment of Solomon, etc. to illustrate various salient O.T. events.

The border is slightly broken into at the top and bottom centre. The same effect, though more prominent, appears on a 12 Months of The Year series by Jan Franz van den Hecke, Brussels, c. 1590. It is possible that our piece may have some connection with his workshop.

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