This item has been added to the Database within the Explore Islamic Art Collections project. Information is available in: English, German.

Name of Object:

Vienna hunting carpet


Vienna, Austria

Holding Museum:

MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art

About MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art, Vienna

Date of Object:

First half of the 16th century

Museum Inventory Number:

T 8336

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Silk warp and weft; knotted; silk asymmetrical knot. Silver thread brocade; part gilded, around silk core


H: 687cm, W: 331cm; knot density 14,330/dm2

Period / Dynasty:



Central Iran, probably Kashan


Due to its fineness, motifs, and size, the famous silk Vienna hunting carpet ranks among the world’s most exceptional carpets having been repeatedly publicised since the 19th century. Originating from the court of Shah Tahmasp I (r. 1524–76), the carpet’s design supposedly lay in the hands of the court painters working for the art-minded ruler. Comparable hunting scenes are found in miniature paintings, but also on fabrics of Safavid production. The middle of the balanced pattern forms a medallion with dragons and phoenixes – symbols of power brought over from China, found in the Iranian formal repertoire since the Ilkhanid period. The corners are marked by quarters of the main medallion. Safavid horsemen and prey in the surrounding fields form into one of the famous imperial hunts. Peris (angel-like beings) are depicted in front of dainty tendrils in the surrounding borders. How the Vienna hunting carpet entered into the possession of the Austrian Imperial Court is still not exactly ascertainable. Its extraordinary quality suggests it was a diplomatic gift.

How date and origin were established:

Research and documentary evidence

How Object was obtained:

Obtained in 1922, formerly in the Imperial House of Habsburg

How provenance was established:

Research and documentary evidence

Selected bibliography:

Völker, Angela, Die orientalischen Knüpfteppiche das MAK, Vienna: Böhlau, 2001: 198–203.

Citation of this web page:

Angela Völker, Barbara Karl "Vienna hunting carpet" in Explore Islamic Art Collections. Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;EPM;at;Mus21;46;en

Prepared by: Angela Völker, Barbara Karl
Copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: AT1 46


 Artistic Introduction

Islamic Dynasties / Period


On display in

MWNF Galleries



As PDF (including images) As Word (text only)