The Medieval World, C. 400–1300

Islamic Art

What is the Ardabil Carpet?

The Ardabil Carpet is, believe it or not, actually two carpets, one in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the other at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Named for the city of Ardabil in northwestern Iran, the pair of carpets were made in the sixteenth century and used to decorate the funerary mosque of Shayk Safi al-Din, a Sufi leader. The carpet design includes a sunburst medallion at 68 its center, surrounded by sixteen leaf-like pendants. Mosque lamp motifs can be seen above and below the sunburst. The lamp images on one of the carpets are slightly smaller is size than the other, a trick of the eye that makes the lamps look the same size when viewed from entrance of the room. The creation of these textile masterpieces was a huge undertaking—made of silk and wool, the V & A carpet is approximately 35 x 18 feet and consists of around twenty-five million knots.


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