Find it at the Met – Silk Iris

With the Safavid dynasty of Persia came a golden era in politics, science, and art. These rulers saw the importance of collaboration between various fields of study, and as such, they were able to advance on all fronts. This is why the Safavid court was able to produce the finest rugs and textiles the world has ever seen. One such example is Silk Iris.

This mid-17th century Persian fabric depicts realistic white, pink and blue silk iris offset by pink and blue poppies.

This cloth, created in the mid-seventeenth century, is one such piece. Technically, this fabric is born from silk and metal-wrapped threads woven together in a lampas style. Its imagery depicts a repeated pattern of irises offset by poppies. These elegantly detailed floral depictions reflect threads of pink, blue, white, and yellow. The flowers sit upon a metallic ground weft with a well-scaled pattern of concentric diamonds. A piece as fine and intricate as this was most likely commissioned by the Safavid court, and possibly intended for the European market.

A detailed image of this silk iris textile reveals the ground weft’s neutral diamond design with the lampassed pink, yellow, blue, and white flowers on top of it.

If you love this silk iris fabric, then you will love Orley Shabahang’s Poppies in the Breeze! This pattern is akin to the Safavid fabric. Its style, on the other hand, has been updated with a modern Art Nouveau twist. Both pieces, however, attest to the truthful adage – with age comes beauty.