Central Asian Ikat of the 19th Century

30/9 – 21/10

Antique Heriz silk prayer rug


Antique Heriz silk prayer rug


155 x 124 cm / 5'2''x 4'1''


This Persian silk Heriz prayer rug dates to the late 19th century. The  design of a hanging lamp in the Mihrab and two supporting pillars on either side follows a classic format. However, the fact that two of the pillars are not connected and appear to be upside down would suggest that this fine rug is a village rendition of a formal Persian design, an example of a village weaver copying a formal workshop design from memory or from an incomplete design source. The resulting misunderstanding of the original often led to such charming “mistakes”. The arabesques surrounding the Mihrab and the sequence of the meandering borders with floral patterns, on the other hand, are perfectly in keeping with the classic version.

The warm and glowing colours on this silk prayer rug are the result of using vegetable dyes. Dyeing silk with natural dyes is an art which  has been lost. Despite the re-introduction of natural dyeing for wool nobody seems to have been able to reproduce colours like these with silk.

Silk carpets respond to light in a very magical way. When viewed in a directional light from one side, the colours appear dark and intense, and from the other side relatively pale and silvery. This rug is an excellent example of this phenomenon.


The silk pile is knotted on a silk foundation, so the weave is very fine. The rug is in good pile; the foundation is slightly fragile in one small area, which has been conserved but which makes it more suitable for hanging than the floor. One small repair.