The Safavid Carpet Fragments from the Shrine of Shah Neʿmatullah Vali

Margaret Squires, 2022-2023 HBC Research Fellow

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

6:00pm @ Salmagundi Club

A group of Safavid carpet fragments housed in the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina has puzzled scholars for over a century. Long recognized for the remarkable sophistication of their designs and richness of their colors, these fragments constitute one of the finest examples from the ‘vase’ carpet group associated with Kerman in eastern Iran. They are also one of the very few examples of signed and dated carpets from the Safavid period. Their significance, however, goes beyond their aesthetic qualities and utility for dating and attribution of a wider group of carpets. These fragments lined the floor of a Sufi shrine in Mahan, Iran, for over two hundred years, transforming the visual and tactile experience of the space and providing a soft surface for prostration and prayer. As one of a very small number of carpets that can be directly associated with a specific building, the Mahan fragments lend critical insight into the relationship between carpet design and architecture in the Safavid period.

As part of her 2022–23 Hajji Baba Club Research Fellowship, Margaret travelled to Sarajevo to examine these fragments in Spring 2023. In this lecture, she will discuss the Mahan fragments in light of her own first-hand analysis. She will also outline the history of their production, fragmentation, and transfer to Sarajevo.

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