The Riverbank Collection: Silk Rugs from Turkey and Persia

This example has its stylistic roots in the Safavid period, and looks very much like a textile of the time. It is in fact a carpet with four corner pieces and a hunting scene on the main field. It is executed to a remarkably fine quality. The fields about its two main axes have finely drawn figures on horseback who are hunting down animals of the chase, either with bows and arrows, spears or swords. The longer vertical axis is emphasised by the series of long, leafy tendrils. The cornerpieces, edged in white, are in a mellow gold, with a hint of aubergine, with restrained blossoms and tendrils.

The main border has a series of winged angels and pairs of water fowl, rendered in ivory and yellow on a deep red ground. The angels are a theme which is known from work of the Safavid period. Earlier such themes are seen in manuscripts; perhaps among the most famous of which is an illustration in the Khamsa of Nizami in the Bibliothèque National in Paris. This feature is seen on carpets, for example, in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Musée Historique desert Tissus, Lyon.

The outer guard band is wider than the inner one. It has an indigo ground with blossoms in the shades of yellow, apricot and orange that echo the ground of the main field. The inner guard band has an ivory ground with its floral design also forming small human masks. These features are also found on Safavid silks and brocades.

It is not known who made this carpet. It is ascribed to Istanbul rather than Kum Kapi not only because it is anonymous but also because in its design themes it does not employ the familiar repertoire of Kum Kapi. The use of apricot was a colour much favoured by Mehmet Ocevik, who was perhaps the last master of the Kum Kapi school, however any attribution to him remains to be established.

Silk carpet, Istanbul. Early 20th century. 272cm x 175cm. Weft: silk, 1 strand. Weft colour: undyed. Warp: silk, 2 strands. Warp colour: undyed. Side cords: silk, 3 cords. Side cord colour: red. Ends: no kilim ends. Knots: symmetrical. Dyes: natural. Knot count: 8×6 per cm sq. Approx total: 2,284,800