Volume IV Number 1
January 1986

The Austrian chargé d'affairs in Teheran in the late 1890's was Hungarian, one de Rakovsky, a man with an interest in Persian antiquities, including old carpets. Here is one of his enterprises described:
"He was in treaty for the ancient carpet in the famous shrine of Shah Niamatallah at Mahur, some twenty miles from Kerman; but so intricate are the ways of Oriental bargaining that it was over a month before he got it into his possession. This carpet, which I saw later on, had been presented to the shrine by Shah Abbas in the sixteenth century, was much worn and cut up into as many as thirty pieces, which the Persians had rejoined with no regard to pattern. But in spite of being nearly threadbare, so that the original colors were difficult to discern, one could not but admire the design of grand medallions on a dark crimson ground, filled in with leaves and branches, and bordered with verses in Persian characters on a series of oblongs. Cruelly as it had been treated, yet the lovely yellows, rich reds, and indigos were still undimmed in places, and now it must be the pride of the museum to which its possessor presented it." (1)

There is an additional contemporaneous description of the carpet, apparently the so-called Sarajevo carpet: "The floor [of the shrine] was covered by a fine old carpet with large medallions presented to the shrine by Shah Abbas, which has since been bought by M. Rakovsky. The date woven in it is A. H. 1067 (1656), whereas the great monarch died some years previously...Probably the date shows when it was finished." (2)

The Sykes siblings thus sketch out the circumstance of a shrine rug's condition, appearance, and acquisition.


  1. Sykes, Ella C., Through Persia in a Side-Saddle, London, 1898, p. 83/4.
  2. Sykes, Percy M., Ten thousand Miles in Persia, London, 1902, p. 149.
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