What is The Carpet of Wonder?

The Carpet of Wonder - the Art
It is not mere size that makes this carpet so great. The Carpet of Wonder is an important expression of Persian Art.
The Carpet of Wonder - the Art
Inspired by the Dome of the Shaykh Lutfallah Mosque
The Carpet of Wonder - the Art
The central medallion of the carpet of Wonder is based on the interior design of the Dome of the Shaykh Lutfallah Mosque. The Shaykh Lutfallah Mosque was begun in about 1603 under the auspices of Shah Abbas Safavi who rightly so is called Shah Abbas the Great. We know from the earliest building inscription that Ali Riza al-Abbasi was involved in the project. Ali Riza al-Abbasi was a calligrapher often confused with the painter Riza i-Abbasi the son of Ali Asghar. Riza i-Abbasi is one of the great artists of Persian Art tends to overshadow Ali Riza al-Abbasi but suffice it to say Ali Riza al-Abbasi was an important artist at the court of Shah Abbas. After all calligraphers were more highly valued than painters.
The Carpet of Wonder - the Art
When speaking of the beauty of the city it has often been said that Isfahan is half the world. In Isfahan one room, the domed chamber of the Shaykh Lutfallah Mosque, is considered to be the most perfect expression of Islamic Architecture

The Carpet of Wonder - the Art
When speaking of the beauty of the city it has often been said that Isfahan is half the world. In Isfahan one room, the domed chamber of the Shaykh Lutfallah Mosque, is considered to be the most perfect expression of Islamic Architecture
The Carpet of Wonder - the Art
Detail The Ardabil Carpet. Plate 11 Page 18.

Both carpets draw from a similar esthetic. The Ardabil is less exacting then the Carpet of Wonder and I suspect not made to the standards of, or under as close supervision as was the Carpet of Wonder. The lack of symmetry in the lobbed medallions must be seen as errors in execution since the design is of a level that it could only have come from the top tier of the artists of the court of Shah Tahmasp. In about 1520 the two major schools of Persian art, the Turkmen and the Timurid merged when Shah Ismail brought Bihzad from Herat to Tabriz. The Ardabil Carpet comes from less than 20 years after that fusion. The Dome of the Shaykh Lutfallah Mosque is a continuation of that tradition but in a more refined way. As we can see in these details there is a great deal of over lap in the floral designs. The floral forms of 1538 were still in style in the early 17th century but now the layout was more symmetrical and more refined. The cloudband had given way to the ornate islimis we see in the Carpet of Wonder. One other innovation that we see is the Isfahan or Shah Abbas palmettes fore and aft of the central palmette in the medallion. This floral form is first associated with the late 16th century and was not common in the reign of Shah Tahmasp.

I pulled together my notes on the Shaykh Lutfallah Mosque in Notes on the Shaykh Lutfallah Mosque
The Carpet of Wonder - Introduction
If one were to make a list of the greatest carpets ever made the Carpet of Wonder in the Grand Sultan Qaboos Mosque in Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman would be in the most select group.
The Carpet of Wonder - Introduction
First of all the Carpet of Wonder is huge. Compared to the famous Ardabil Carpet now in the V& A Museum it gives us some idea of the scale of this great carpet. The Ardabil Carpet is 11.52m by 5.34 m for 61.5 square meters while the Carpet of Wonder is 60.90m by 70.50m for an amazing 4343 square meters. while the Ardabil is a large carpet it would take more than 70 of them to equal the size of the Carpet of Wonder.
The Carpet of Wonder - Introduction
The Ardabil is a large carpet it would take more than 70 of them to equal the size of the Carpet of Wonder.

Carpet Ardabil Carpet Carpet of Wonder
measurements 11.52m by 5.34m 60.90m by 70.50m
square meters 61.5 4343
Knot Count 50 Raj - 18 Knots per inch 40 Raj - 15 Knots per inch
Foundation Silk Cotton
Colors 10 28
Date 1538 - 40 1997 - 2000
The Ardabil Carpet is slightly finer but that us due to the cotton foundation rather than silk.
The Carpet of Wonder - Introduction
The Carpet of Wonder - Introduction
Side by side comparison Not to Scale,
The Carpet of Wonder - the Mosque
The Carpet of Wonder - the Mosque
On the 5th of May in the year 2001 after four years, 600 workers, 12 million man hours of work on the carpet alone His Majesty, Sultan Qaboos bin Said bowed to pray in the largest Mosque in the world on the largest hand woven rug in the world.
The Carpet of Wonder - the Mosque
The Carpet of Wonder
The Carpet of Wonder - the Mosque
The Carpet of Wonder - the Mosque
In 1992 (1412AH) His Majesty, Sultan Qaboos bin Said ordered that the work to build a Mosque in the wilayat of Bausher, Muscat governorate in the Sultanate of Oman. When the sultan came to the throne in 1970 he built a more modest mosque in Muscat but in 1992 he called for plans to be drawn up for the largest Mosque in the world. This Mosque was to draw from the best of the broad range of Islamic art and architecture and not from a single country or tradition of Islam.
Sultan Qaboos bin Said is a remarkable man. If someone set out to describe the perfect monarch he might well describe Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Like a modern day Shah Abbas he has taken a country in trouble and made it a nation. Also like Shah Abbas he is a man of the people taking up to two months each year to tour the country and talk to the common man. By careful governing he has improved the lot of his people. Literacy and jobs have increased while the child mortality rate has dropped. Typical of his governing style the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque as well as over 2000 other mosques have been built entirely from the Sultan's own purse.

Born: November 18, 1940

Came to power: July 23, 1970
The Carpet of Wonder - the Mosque
The Carpet of Wonder - The Processes of Weaving
In 1996 the Iran Carpet Co. received a contract at the order of the Diwan of the Royal Court of Sultanate of Oman to cover the entire floor of the main praying hall of the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman. This order was unprecedented. The contract called for the carpet to be the Largest Hand Made Carpet in the history of the world. Not just the largest but more than four times larger then the previous world's largest carpet. The carpet was also to be an artistic marvel.
The Carpet of Wonder - The Processes of Weaving
Such an opportunity would crush a lesser company but the Iran Carpet Company set about to not only make the carpet but also to deliver it in three years. To accomplish 4343 square meters in only three years Iran Carpet Co. set up a massive operation in Nishabour in the Khorasan province of Iran. To translate the curved surface of the dome into a flat pattern for a carpet was no simple task. The radiating lobes of the medallion were adjusted to match the enormous size of the carpet. In the Shaykh Lutfallah Mosque Dome the radiating lobes are of equal size, however the designers were able to catch the essence of a curved dome by increasing the size of the lobes as they move away from the central point of the design. Doing this allowed them to match the pattern to what the eye sees when one looks up while standing in the dome chamber the Shaykh Lutfallah Mosque. It also compliments the Mosque dome over head. The process was so complex that the ICC applied for intellectual property rights to protect their method of translating the design.

1.7 billion knots

Four thousand three hundred and forty three square meters translates to 1.7 billion knots. To tie 1.7 billion knots ICC assembled a team of 600 workers including 500 weavers working in two shifts. These women worked under strict supervision to maintain the intricate design. As we can see in The Carpet of Wonder - the Art when we compare this carpet to the legendary Ardabil ICC was able maintain a high standard that avoids the wandering pattern and implementation errors that we see in the Ardabil. To produce this carpet ICC invested 12 million person/ hours to produce this 22 ton masterpiece.
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