Fine Persian Mahal Carpet

Rug #5253

A Fine Persian Mahal Carpet, Northwest Persia

Mid 20th Century

The ivory field with a column of pastel polychrome palmettes issuing ogival hooked vines linking two columns of larger pastel polychrome palmettes, framing diagonal orientated palmettes, each issuing meandering sinuous vines adorned with small flower heads and leaves, within a pale blue border enclosing continuous angular vines linking palmettes ending in curled serrated leaves, plain ivory outer surround.


Carpets classified as Mahal are made in urban workshops in and around Arak in West Central Persia. Their carpets display distinctive and characteristic designs invariably based on 16th and 17th Century Classical Persian carpet designs, though with a new style of pattern drawing. Mahal as a Persian weaving centre gained prominence as a carpet producing centre from the 1870’s onwards when western influences on design and colourways began to  play a significant part in design, hitherto only been the prerogative of home based weavers. In the Arak area, Ziegler and Co, based in Manchester, England, set up workshops in the region to create patterns presented in revised colour selection specifically geared to appealing to western tastes. Persian Mahal carpets rapidly became extremely popular decorative furnishing carpets in western markets from this time. These influences transformed weaving in the area, and their important standing remains in place today.

This Persian Mahal carpet, displays a great sense of fluidity and movement in this bold rendition, complementing the rare huge size of the carpet. A formal arrangement of large palmettes based on Classical Persian prototypes are linked by curvilinear hooked vines creating two columns of circular medallions. Each of these medallions encloses a diagonal orientated palmette from which extend sinuous vines ending in flower heads and issuing small leaves. This arrangement is a highly individual adaptation from Classical tradition, and is symmetrical on the vertical axis. As is often the case, the pattern is enhanced by the infinite repeat device where motifs are partially hidden by the border, suggesting that the pattern is never ending. This magnificent Persian Mahal carpet displays a range of characteristic colours consistent with 20th century Persian Mahal artistry. Predominantly pastel shades of ochre, coral, pale blue, pale green and white are present here with occasional deeper red detailing used to give a visual enhancement to the various pattern elements where used. Grey tones are used as outlining and for defining the finer elements of the pattern. All these wonderful harmonic colours are presented on a rich cream background. The border pattern is more detailed and complex with angular drawn floral elements presented in similar colours all on a wonderful pale blue background. The more complex pattern drawing in the border magnificently frames the airier open field pattern arrangement and is yet a further enhancement to this oversized Persian Mahal carpet.

There is no doubting that this oversized Persian Mahal carpet represents an outstanding example of 20th Century Mahal artistry combining Classical tradition with characteristic Mahal ingenuity and originality.