Antique rugs are prized for a wide range of designs, a broad palette, use of natural dyes and fibers, great tensile strength and abrasion resistance, and expert color combinations. They are refined pieces of art desired by collectors and interior designers alike.
Some antique rugs feature bold central medallions, others feature multiple medallions, intricate arabesque patterns, or all-over designs with an abundance of flora and fauna.
The rarest antique rugs in the Doris Leslie Blau collection display Paradise Garden designs. This classic design arose from the concept of heaven on earth in the form of a garden. The word “Paradise” derives from the Avestan word (early form of the Persian language) “parādaiĵah” which directly translates to “walled enclosure” or “walled garden”.
The garden design is originally a Persian motif later used in Indian and Turkish arts as well. The Persian arts, including rug weaving, reached their golden age during the Safavid era (16th through 18th centuries). It was during this time that the Garden Design was established as a classic design and continued to be used ever since in Persia and abroad.
The antique Turkish Sivas rug displayed above is a wonderful example of the creativity and skillfulness reached by the rug weavers of the Ottoman Empire. Sivas are appreciated as some of the most well made and decorative Turkish rugs. Most of them were made for the European markets of the time and this is obvious in the modern geometry of this unusual antique rug. The traditional Garden of Paradise design bares traditional elements, such as the central pond, but in this case, it is encircled by additional vast flows of shimmering water delightfully geometricized in an almost Art Deco manner. The juxtaposition of geometric elements and classic detailed ornaments adds to the cram of this rare and unusual antique piece.
The design of the Indian rug BB6463 from the Doris Leslie Blau collection is a Paradise Garden design. The uniqueness of it is that it’s rather a free, playful version of a traditional Persian Paradise Garden design. Here, the garden of Paradise unfolds lavish details of exotic birds and animals scattered around meandering shrubs and flowers, and trees with winding branches heavy of leaves and blossoms. Twelve cypress trees, in rich amber, mirror each other around a central diamond representing a pond. Framing the composition is a narrow amber and blue border that evokes shimmering water, and a plethora of flora reflecting it in. To summarize, the composition is a walled garden with a pond, surrounded by a lake. The design is clearly influenced by the Art Deco movement that first appeared right before WW1 in Europe. This indicates the fact that this rug was produced in India, for the European market. The rug is truly a rare and wonderful blend of Indian and European artistry.
The antique Persian Kirman rug featured above displays a stunning garden design and is a fine example of the artistry reached by the rug workshops of the central south-east section of Iran. Kirmans are renowned for their distinctive design patters and elaborate pictorials. This extravagant Garden of Paradise design features not one but two central ponds or water fountains in the shape of intricate rosettes, flanked by twenty-four intricate pictorial scenes. Each of these scenes is an artwork in itself. They feature vases with sumptuous flower arrangements, and a variety of exotic flowering shrubs and trees with lush foliage on jewel-like backgrounds of emerald, jade, and copper. As with other garden designs, this mirific walled garden is surrounded by shimmering rivers is the shape of narrow aqua-colored borders, and is further enclosed by busy forest scenes rich in flora and fauna.
Collecting antique rugs is a fascinating and, for many, lifelong endeavor, providing an intensely personal opportunity to prove one’s own sense of beauty. The rugs with Garden Design are highly collectible pieces and will continue to be for generations to come.