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Ningxia (Ninghsia) small dragon and lotus rug, Kangxi (K'ang Hsi) Period, circa 1700-1720

Code: NXKG01J

Age: early XVIII century

: 74x86cm

Size (ft): 2'5"x2'10"

Structure and materials: Wool pile on a cotton foundation. Asymmetrically knotted wool pile open to the left

Description: The best and rarest examples of early Ningxia rugs were woven during the Kangxi period, when carpets began to achieve a status comparable to other forms of decorative art.

This rare Kangxi period rug, probably used as a seat cover, is decorated with a fret medallion which is encased by a cloud collar shape made of lotuses and vinery. There are four lotuses (symbol of purity), one in each cardinal direction. The fret is an abstract representation of the dragon. The four corners have fret and dragon head corner guards. The seat-cover has no borders or surround.

The dragon is a recurrent motif in Chinese decorative arts, becoming prominent initially in the Han dynasty (206BC - AD220). They are associated with Imperial authority and with the nature of the universe and were thought to embody the same dynamic forces that animated clouds and vapours. Franses, op cit, p.16 notes that almost half the surviving Imperial Wanli carpets depict dragons, and that these are generally quite naturalistic in appearance; their sinuous bodies are covered in scales; limbs and facial features are clearly recognisable. In the pieces produced in Ninghsia in the reign of Emperor Kangxi, the dragon continues to be an important motif, but their style of depiction changes, taking three primary forms:
- in the first they are drawn in an archaic manner, recalling their depiction in the Han dynasty, where their snake-like trunks issue multiple branches which split into vapour scrolls, whilst their heads remain recognisably dragon-like;
- in the second their heads remain recognisable, whilst their bodies are formed of interlocking fretwork;
- in the third fretwork alone is used to symbolise the dragon.

Franses, ibid, notes these three forms appear concurrent. Interestingly, there is a pair of Beijing Imperial carpets, illustrated König. H., Franses. M., Gnz de Himmelssöhne, Kaiserliche Teppiche aus China 1400 – 1750, Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Köln, exhibition
catalogue, London, 2005, p. 60, cat. 3, (dated to the last quarter of the 16th century), in which the dragons are archaistic, possibly the prototypes for the sinuous Ninghsia dragons.

Formerly in Sandra Whitman's collection.

Good condition for its age. Some wear and a few re-piling areas in the field. Ends bound.

References: Seat-covers of similar age and design can be seen:

-Lorentz, A View of Chinese Rugs from the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Century, plate 24

- Franses, Glanz der Himmelssohne, Kaiserliche Teppiche Aus China 1400-1750, plates 19 and 20 pp. 118-119.

- Hali Magazine, 144, page 78 & 83

Contact us for more information about this rug




Contact us for more information about this rug


For more information about the above rug or to place an order please email vd@azerbaijanrugs.com
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