Name of Object:
Carpet with dragon and phoenix
Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum
Date of Object:
Hegira mid-9th / mid-15th century
Museum Inventory Number:
Material(s) / Technique(s):
Length 172 cm, width 90 cm
Period / Dynasty:
This fragmented carpet is one of the most important animal-carpets of the early Ottoman period that have become known to the present day. Two highly stylised animals, a dragon and a phoenix, are depicted fighting, against a yellow background and within two octagonal spaces. The phoenix is swooping down onto the dragon from above. The image is clearer in the lower octagonal casing than in the upper. The outer border is composed of semi-palmette tendrils, which are framed on both sides by an edging of little rosettes. The original border appears to be missing on both the left and right sides. It is possible that the carpet was originally wider in shape, featuring a greater number of octagonal compartments. This would make it more akin to the animal-carpets that were reproduced in paintings. The dragon and phoenix motif, which originated in China – where yellow was considered to be the colour of the sovereign – was introduced into Islamic art in the AH 7th / AD 13th century with the arrival of the Mongols, as is demonstrated by its ubiquitous presence on a number of works of art, made in a variety of materials.
View Short Description
This Ottoman carpet with the pattern of a dragon being attacked from above by a phoenix is one of the most famous carpet designs. Introduced from the Far East, carpets with animal designs already occurred in numerous paintings from the European masters in the 13th and 14th centuries.
Museum of Arts and Crafts, Berlin
How date and origin were established:
Carbon-14 analysis has dated the carpet to the mid-9th / mid-15th century.
How Object was obtained:
Acquired in Rome by Wilhelm von Bode in 1886 and bought by the Museum of Arts and Crafts, Berlin. Given on loan to the Museum of Islamic Art in 1906, after which it was included in the Museum’s inventory.
How provenance was established:
The carpet’s Turkish knot and its unique motifs and colours place it within the Ottoman era.
Bode, W. v., Vorderasiatische Knüpfteppiche aus älterer Zeit, Leipzig, 1901, p.109.
Citation of this web page:
Jens Kröger "Carpet with dragon and phoenix" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;de;Mus01;34;en
Prepared by: Jens Kröger