Northwest Persia, early 19th century
162 x 117 cm (5’ 4” x 3’ 10”)
Condition: very good according to age, two small repairs in the field, left bottom edge slightly damaged
Warp: cotton, weft: wool
Prayer kilims are rare in Persia; quite the opposite pertains in Turkey. But white-ground examples are even rarer. This exquisite example shows flower heads organised diagonally, thus emphasising the direction of the mihrab. In his article in HALI 70 about Kurdish carpet designs, Albert Levi showed a white-ground example and compared the flowerhead with a compartment rug shown on the cover of the magazine. These he traces back to the earlier garden carpets.
In his article in HALI 115 (p. 107), Walter Kintsch states that Senneh kilim were made from the end of the 18th century on. He counts the flowerhead design as the oldest in the group. Only a handful of white-ground examples are known. The Ballard/Jenkins prayer kilim has, within the head and shoulder arch, the same diagonal arrangement of flowers. Another example was recently sold as part of the Vok collection (R&B Vok Selection 3, p. 151). This has the same motifs in field and spandrel, but they are slightly less successful.
Our kilim has, as in the Jenkins example, a night blue spandrel. But where the Jenkins example shows the same design as the field we see a loose arrangement of flower stems, not dissimilar to the prayer kilim exhibited in Seattle (HALI 62, p. 100) as part of the Burns collection. Even closer related but on a white ground were the spandrels of a prayer kilim we had in our auction on 19 November 2016.
Minor borders and outer border are the same as in the Ballard/Jenkins example, but the flower meander on red ground gives this piece an especially expressive frame. The colours are strong, and even the subtle changes in the diagonal pattern of the main field are well accentuated.
Estimate: € 6000 - 10000