Name of Object:
Carpet with flowering tree motif
Also known as:
Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum
Date of Object:
Hegira 8th century / AD 14th century
Museum Inventory Number:
Material(s) / Technique(s):
Wool, knotted carpet.
Length 385 cm, width 95 cm
Period / Dynasty:
Acquired by Wilhelm von Bode, this fragmented carpet is thought to have first come from a church in Tyrol before finding its way into the hands of Munich art dealers. Its shape is long and narrow, and its patterns are clearly divided. Along its red centre lies a thin tree trunk, whose evenly spaced branches stretch out at a right angle, holding up large blossoms. A yellow border frames the carpet’s central area, and features an Arabic word in kufic script, which is repeated throughout the border. Along the top edge, the word is shortened to just two letters that are joined together. This stylistic depiction of the Arabic script could be an incorrect representation of the Islamic confession of faith. Small rosettes are used as partitions. A second border runs along the outside edge, patterned with a row of repeated double pearls. Both borders are additionally framed by thin blue stripes.
View Short Description
This unique and earliest known Spanish carpet has a design of a central tree with branches bursting into large flowers. These have been interpreted as depictions of a Torah shrine, giving the carpet the name Synagogue carpet. Of special interest is the stylised repetitive Arabic inscription.
Wilhelm von Bode
How date and origin were established:
In the absence of carpets that have been dated, it is thought that this carpet is earlier than the group of carpets featuring coats of arms that have been attributed to the 15th century. The reason for this lies in its different ornamentation and in the archaic calligraphy of its inscription, executed over a monochrome background. These differences justify the hypothesis that this carpet could have been woven in the 14th century.
How Object was obtained:
Acquired by Wilhelm von Bode in 1884 from a Munich art dealer and later transferred to Berlin’s Arts and Crafts Museum, from where is has been on long-term loan since 1906.
How provenance was established:
The technical peculiarity of the use of Spanish knots for the knotted weave, as well as the inscription and the ornamental details, point to the carpet having a Spanish origin.
Bode, F., Vordersasiatische Knüpfteppiche aus älterer Zeit, Leipzig, 1901, p.117.
Citation of this web page:
Jens Kröger "Carpet with flowering tree motif" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;de;Mus01;16;en
Prepared by: Jens Kröger