Imperial Ming Dynasty carpet could bring $189,000 in Bonhams Chinese Art sale

The forthcoming Bonhams sale of fine Chinese Art on November 10 will offer collectors a superb opportunity to acquire objects made for the Emperor and the Chinese Imperial Court.

The auction will feature a wide range of furniture, bronzes, ceramics and jade, and is sure to attract attention from international collectors as the market for Chinese art and antiquities continues to surge.

Describing the current market, Bonhams' senior Chinese Art specialist Asaph Hyman commented:

"Fuelled by demand from China, artefacts of this quality are defying the current economic trends. The historical connection between China and Britain and the ongoing links through the art market all add up to a most encouraging outlook for Chinese art."

One of the standout lots amongst a catalogue of treasures is a highly rare yellow-ground Chinese Imperial 'dragon' carpet dating from the late Ming Dynasty. Measuring 17ft by 10ft, the carpet features a full-faced five-clawed dragon. This design strongly suggests it was created for Imperial use, as it is associated with the emperor and frequently appears on other textiles such as Imperial silk robes.

imperial_dragon_carpet.jpg
The carpet's fearsome dragon design suggests a connection to the Emperor himself

In addition, the carpet is decorated in muted yellows and blues which reflect the wucai palette used on porcelains during the Wanli period.

As with other similar carpets of the period, this example was created for a specific room within the Forbidden City - Imperial Ming throne room. The carpet's trapezoidal shape and key-fret border suggests it was designed to be placed around a central octagonal carpet on which the throne platform was placed.

Imperial carpets were produced in very small numbers, meant for specific settings, and passed down through generations from emperor to emperor meaning few ever make it on to the modern markets.

The exquisite nature of this current example, combined with its Imperial connection and extreme rarity, give it an estimated value of £80,000 to £120,000 ($189,000).

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