Large pictorial Qashqai rug from the Shiraz region of southwest Iran. Rugs depicting festive combinations of wine, women, and song are often known as ‘Omar Khayyam’ rugs; generally, they are small mat-sized textiles. This is by far the largest that I’ve encountered woven by the Qashqai tribe.
Overall condition is very good with some moderate wear on the wool pile, and small areas of slight dye diffusion from the orange. The barber pole side cords, traditional among the Qashqai, are in good condition. The fringes are in excellent condition.
As is typical in Qashqai rug weaving, the entire rug, including warp, is composed of natural wool. The exact size is 10 ft. 4 in by 6 ft. 11 in. 1960s-1970s.
The color changes visible in the fringe in the first photo are due to the multi-colored wool used for the warp threads. There is no staining or discoloration — merely the wool’s natural varied color range.
Reasonably heavy rug that could be used in a high foot traffic area of the home. No holes, thin spots, or odors, etc.
The scene depicts two women playing music for their admiring suitors, all surrounded by an array of traditional Qashqai symbols, plants, flowers and songbirds. The stringed instruments are probably the Persian tar.
Why Omar Khayyam?
Omar Khayyam is one of the giants of Persian literature and poetry. He was born on May 18, 1048 in the city of Nishapoor, which is located in the contemporary province of Khorassan in northeastern Iran. Aside from his writings, he was a polymath who excelled as a mathematician, philosopher and astronomer. As an astronomer he may have developed a heliocentric system with the earth turning on its axis– almost five centuries before European scholars such as Copernicus. Unquestionably, Khayyam ranks as one of the preeminent intellects of all time, and his work remains influential today.
As a student, Khayyam traveled to the ancient educational center of Samarkand. In Bukhara, he composed the era’s most seminal book on algebra. Before the age of 25, he had written several volumes on subjects as varied as mathematics and music.
“Later, Sultan Malik-Shah, the grandson of the Seljuk founder, invited Khayyam to travel to the dynasty’s capital in Isfahan. There, Khayyam established and managed an astronomical observatory. For nearly two decades, Khayyam lived in the city of Isfahan and maintained close connections with Malik-Shah. His astronomical and mathematical works and his contribution to the Jalali calendar are among his most well-known innovations. However, after the sultan’s death, Khayyyam fell from favor and embarked on a pilgrimage to Mecca followed by extensive travels. Khayyam’s life frequently intersects with Persia’s greatest cities, places where pictorial carpets featuring scenes from the Rubaiyat were later created.”
Outside the mathematical disciplines, Omar Khayyam is best known for his quatrains. These evocative poems were introduced to the West by Thomas Hyde in the 17th century, and later by Edward FitzGerald, who translated hundreds of quatrains and presented them with dazzling illustrations. They were titled The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. A ‘rubaiyat’ is a four-line piece of poetry also called a quatrain.
As many of the quatrains celebrate a sensuous and hedonistic embrace of life’s fleeting pleasures, Khayyam is now eternally linked to a ‘party hearty’ mentality, which is certainly ironic for one of history’s greatest mathematicians and astronomers.
Let’s not think of tomorrow,
But let’s enjoy this
Fleeting moment of life.”
“A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread — and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness —
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!”
Khayyam’s name and quatrains are now tightly intertwined with any Middle Eastern carpet depicting a sensual or festive scene.
Similar sentiments, naturally, are found in many poetical traditions. Carpe diem, usually translated as ‘seize the day’, is a Latin aphorism from the Roman poet Horace. And one of the ‘Metaphysical’ poets of the 17th century, Andrew Marvell, elaborates the theme at greater length in his poem ‘To His Coy Mistress’.
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