What is the Antique Ardabil Carpet?

There are lots of unique, captivating and historical carpets around the world. Silk Isfahan, Ziegler Mahal, and Fereghan Sarouk carpet just a few of them, but there is one which literally came from the dusty pages of history, and didn’t lose anything from its splendor and beauty.

Therewithal, we can say that, it is one of the most important artwork in the world. Its name is Antique Ardabil carpet.


The History of Antique Ardabil Carpet

Famous ‘Ardabil Carpet’ was made in a north-west Iran town ‘Ardabil’. It was in a shrine which sepulture place of Shaykh Safi al-Din Ardabili who died in 1334. He was a historically important person, because he was both ancestor of Shah Ismail and founder of the Safavid dynasty.

There is a belief that Ardabil Carpet has been made for the shrine of the Shaykh by court. The reason of that belief is existing of an inscription on one edge of carpet which is written ‘The work of the slave of the portal, Maqsud Kashani’, and it is known that Maqsud Kashani was a court official.

Fortunately, we know the exact date of what time carpet was made- it is written in the same inscription. Carpet was made in 946 according to Islamic calendar which is equivalent to AD 1539 – 1540. By taking into consideration this date, it is likely to say that Antique Ardabil Carpet is one of the oldest carpets in the world.


The Shape and Design of Antique Ardabil Carpet

A single design is integrated on the entire surface of the Antique Ardabil Carpet, and each strand of carpet pile was dyed with natural dyeing methods (according to expert wools of carpet has been dyed with pomegranate rind and indigo). The surface of carpet consist of flowers and leaves surrounding a yellow medallion which locate in the center of carpet.  

On the pointed ring that surrounds the yellow medallion, drooping lamps extends towards two opposite poles, but the size of those two hanging lamps are not same, and there are a few theory about this difference.

Some theorists consider that difference as a perspective effect (when you sit near the small lamp, both appear the same size), but there isn’t any proof about, that kind of perspective effect were using in Iran in those years.

According to another theorist, that difference was deliberate flaw in design, what is meant by this mistake is perfection belongs only to God.


Where is the Antique Ardabil Carpet Exhibited Now?

Carpet was located in shrine until an earthquake which happened in 1873, after the earthquake carpet was damaged, so the carpet was purchased by the famous Manchester carpet company Ziegler & Co, after this event. Antique Ardabil Carpet was put up for sale by the company, and eventually, in 1892 it was purchased by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London for £2,000.

With a decision which made by the museum in 2006, the carpet was started to be displayed on the floor as intended. Moreover, to protect its rich and vivid colors, it is lit for 10 minutes every 1 hour.


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