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Posted on: December 10, 2019

Find It At The Met – Safavid Velvets

Safavid velvets are world-renowned for their intricate designs as well as the integrity of their composition. Continue reading to learn more about these indestructible silk textiles that still shine 500 years later.

This is a photo of a Safavid velvet from 1540 that depicts a hunting scene filled with leafy trees, forest animals, and male hunters on a diamond canvas.

The Safavid velvet pictured here was woven in 1540 under Shah Tahmasp’s reign. Serving as the longest reigning monarch of the dynasty, Shah Tahmasp put the necessary infrastructure in place that would make Persia the most valued distributor of fine textiles such as this one. In order to do so, he employed the most skilled artisans and gave them the finest quality materials. His silk was harvested near the Caspian Sea, a premier environment for the silkworm. Furthermore, the developed weaving techniques enhanced the inherent strength of the silk fibers. Silk was used for both the warp and weft in this piece, creating a dense foundation with a shimmering detailed design.

This is a photo of a Safavid velvet from 1540 that depicts a hunting scene filled with leafy trees, forest animals, and male hunters on a diamond canvas.

This medallion piece depicts a common theme in Safavid velvets – the hunting scene. The artist takes inspiration from the Persian epic poem Shahnameh. She follows the story of Hushang, the hero who discovered fire. In the picture, a man holds a rock ready to strike the ominous dragon in his midst as birds look on. He is clad in in yellow, wearing the typical royal Persian dress of the time. There are spotted dragons woven in rich maroons and neutrals surrounding him. The trees follow the color themes of the dragons, while the birds are hues of blue and green.

A detailed image of this Safavid velvet textile reveals a hunter dressed in yellow surrounded by different flora and fauna in varying shades of maroon, green, and yellow.

At Orley Shabahang, we take lessons from the past to inform our unmatched quality. Many of the techniques that we use to weave our modern carpets follow those established during Safavid rule. We also offer a wide selection of antiques that date back as far as the eighteenth century. So whether your interests are in the contemporary or the antiquity, Orley Shabahang is sure to have the perfect carpet for your home!