A Tale of Two Persian Carpets (One by One): The Ardabil and Coronation Carpets

Dating to the first half of the 16th century, LACMA’s two spectacular Persian carpets, both the gift of J. Paul Getty, have only rarely been exhibited due in part to their size and their sensitivity to light. Now, these large and sumptuous carpets will be shown sequentially, affording visitors the opportunity to see two of the world’s most renowned Persian carpets and to learn of their fascinating history before and after they left Iran. The Ardabil carpet will be on view September 17, 2017–February 11, 2018 and the Coronation carpet will be exhibited February 17, 2018–July 8, 2018.

The large number of carpets surviving from 16th-century Iran compared to earlier periods reflects not only a high level of carpet production but also perhaps a change in the nature of their manufacture. During this period, carpet weaving evolved from a rural, nomadic craft to a national industry and an internationally acclaimed art form, as the first shahs of the Safavid dynasty (1501–1732) established royal factories in cities such as Tabriz, Kashan, Kirman, and Isfahan. The two great Persian carpets presented here belong to this period of cultural, political, and religious flowering.