Early Ningxia Rug with Blossom Palmettes

Kangxi (1662-1722)
Northern China
180 cm x 135 cm
5'10" x 4'5"

This rare Ningxia rug features a coral rose background decorated by a directional pattern of large blue lotus flowers – symbols of purity – connected by a thin leafy vinery. The blue border is adorned with ivory and rose lotus flowers, and the inner guard stripe includes an ivory Greek fret motif known as a ‘thunder line’, which is a Chinese ideogram found on certain ritual bronzes from the ancient Shang dynasty. The ample spacing and refined rendering of the design reminds us of the decor of Ming period ceramics. It should be noted how the weaver succeeded in gauging the pattern so as to place it entirely within the boundaries of the square format, imbuing the rug with a serene sense of balance – a characteristic the earliest Ningxia rugs. The delicate floral style of this example, together with the choice of a softer palette, is typical of weavings from the Qianlong period.

Antique Textile Art IV, n.28, p.59.

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