Posted on: June 30, 2020
Staff Pick – Khotan Vases
Khotan Vases is Orley Shabahang’s reimagination of a much older carpet design. Its namesake comes from the central Asian carpet center where it was conceived. The reason that we love this rug, however, goes beyond its compelling history. Even though the motif is hundreds of years old, it continues to work effortlessly in modernity.
Khotan, now in present day China, was an important trading center on the Silk Road. Initially, Iranian Saka Buddhists inhabited this area called Samarkand and used the fertile basin to their economic advantage. By the 13th century, Khotan was under the rule of the Persian Ilkhanid dynasty. It was during this time that they also became an important textile center along the Silk Road. Having cultivated an abundance of raw materials, silk Khotan carpets became renowned for their lattice-filled floral patterns and bright colors. Because of its geographic location and exposure, Khotan textiles show influence from both Persian and Chinese handicrafts. It is common to see a Persian weaving style paired with Chinese illustrations.
A great example of this fusion is the antique Khotan Vases (c. 1870) pictured above. Even though it is not the prototypical bright silk style of the region, Khotan Vases employs a Persian asymmetrical wool knot on a cotton warp. Its design, on the other hand, shows the influence of Chinese decorative porcelain motifs.
Knowing the ancient-rooted history of this carpet makes its versatility even more impressive. Khotan Vases fits seamlessly in traditional, transitional, and modern arenas. Looking at the photograph above, the design group Mise En Scene does an incredible job of installing this antique handmade rug in a sleek New York townhouse. The carpet helps anchor the modern white furniture with the surrounding white walls as well as the ultra-dark wood floors. The layering of traditional, modern, and contemporary forms gives the space depth while the neutral palette maintains the lightness of the open plan.