Persian Safavid prayer rug to make $500,000 at Sotheby's?

A Persian Safavid prayer rug dating to circa 1600 will lead a sale of carpets and textiles at Sotheby's, with a valuation of $300,000-500,000.

The Safavid dynasty spanned 1501 to 1736 and presided over an age of great prosperity in Persia.

Safavid prayer rug Sothebys
The prayer rug features verses from the Qur'an in the borders

Originating in Kashan or Isfahan, two cities in modern day Iran, the carpet displays a motif of spiralling tendrils with inscriptions from the Qur'an in the border.

It belongs to the distinct "Salting" subset of prayer rugs, named for George Salting - an art collector who bequeathed an example to the Victoria and Albert Museum in the early 1900s.

The Salting rugs are characterised by a classical Persian design and the inclusion of interwoven scriptures - with around half the known examples featuring metal brocading.

A Safavid Medallion carpet dating to the mid to late 1600s is estimated to make $100,000-150,000.

It has been identified as originating in northwest Persia due to the distinctive split-leaf arabesques, although the choice of colours indicates an eastern influence. This melding of styles was not uncommon as carpet weavers were often exchanged between royal courts across the Middle East.

In February last year a carpet produced during the Safavid dynasty made $1.9m at Sotheby's New York - up 176% on a $700,000 estimate.

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