Conserving The Emperor’s Carpet

In 2006, The Met launched an ambitious three-year conservation program to stabilize the condition of The Emperor’s Carpet.

The Emperor’s Carpet (Photo Courtesy of The Met)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) is home to some of the world’s most incredible works of art. In The Met’s collection is the sixteenth-century Emperor’s Carpet from Safavid Iran. The carpet was acquired by The Met in 1941, but its condition was so fragile that it was only displayed for the public twice over the next sixty years.

The Emperor’s Carpet (Photo Courtesy of The Met)

The program involved the careful examination of the carpet’s fibers, dyes, and structure. It also included the use of advanced imaging technology to create a detailed map of the carpet’s condition. The conservation project was a success and the carpet’s lustrous wools and dazzling colors are now on display at The Met on a regular basis.

The conservation of the Emperor’s Carpet is a remarkable success story. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the museum’s conservation team, the public can now enjoy this incredible work of art for years to come.

I invite you to view “Conserving The Emperor’s Carpet, which documents the conservation program.

The Emperor’s Carpet (Photo Courtesy of The Met)

One of the finest products of the Safavid court ateliers, this carpet once adorned the summer residence of the Habsburg emperors. The main field balances a sophisticated net of floral scrolls, large composite palmettes, cloud bands, buds, and blossoms with a myriad of real and fictional animals—dragons and Chinese antelope, lion and buffalo, tigers and leopards, ducks and pheasants. A verse found in the inner guard band likens a garden in springtime to the Garden of Paradise.The Met Museum

The Emperor’s Carpet (Photo Courtesy of The Met)

Published by Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

16 thoughts on “Conserving The Emperor’s Carpet

  1. Fantastic magic carpet ride, Rebecca! Love the history. The video is amazing. I sew get it!
    Restoring this precious work was a labour of love.
    Thank you for this post!!! HUGS

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love your comment: “I sew get it.” LOL I am fascinated by the diverse skills required to work with cloth like knowing quality, texture, and durability. There are issues of fabric’s shrinkage rate, colorfastness, and how it behaves when washed or ironed. And then to understand the grain, pattern, and weave of the cloth. Appropriate needle, thread, and stitching techniques for each fabric is crucial for creating high-quality and long-lasting outcomes. This is a long list of skills. Your ability to work with cloth is truly amazing, Resa! Truly amazing!!!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Rebecca, all I learned, all you mention, seems to be a dying skill set. We are a rare breed.
        Other than issues like restoring tapestries, rugs etc. people don’t want to pay for a qualified seamstress/builder.
        Therefore most people don’t consider this a valid education route.
        Plumbers, electricians, carpenters, etc. make handsome hourly wages, and are unionized.
        Plumbers in Ontario make $200.00 – $300.00/hr.
        With fast fashion, someone can buy a dress for $35.00.
        Taking it in and a hem would cost $40.00, done well, and that’s at $25.00/hr.

        As far as a dress made from scratch goes, well, the fabric alone will cost more than if you went out and bought a dress.

        I have a couturier education, but live in a fast fashion world.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Dave! According to my Goodreads account, which I rarely keep up to date, I read Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything” in 2013. Bill would meet up with experts and then be given tours into areas of museums and art galleries etc where very few would be allowed entry. While I am certain that he did not mean to be exclusive, it felt that most of us would never see the back story of what happens behind the scene. I have come to see that galleries, libraries, archives and museums want us all to see the intricacies of what they do. I love hearing the story of the unsung heroes that work tirelessly in the background.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I am delighted that you enjoyed this video, Liz. I am reminded that works of art live beyond the lives of their creators. Imagine how many hands have worked over the centuries to preserve this carpet. Even more interesting, how over the years, this carpet has become democratized. What was only seen by a select group of people can now be seen by everyone using virtual means. I find this fascinating.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. So am I, Robbie. I knew that conserving old carpets created centuries ago would be challenging task because they are made of delicate materials and require special care to prevent further deterioration. But I did not know the extent of the conservation process that involves careful cleaning, repairing any damage and storing the carpet in a controlled environment to prevent further damage. I now understand why this project took 3 years to complete. What an accomplishment.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I am delighted that you enjoyed this post, Cindy. I have been fascinated by the history of the Safavid Empire, a Persian dynasty that ruled Iran from 1501 to 1736. The Safavids were known for their art, architecture, a strong central government and a well-organized bureaucracy. I am glad that this carpet has been preserved.

      Liked by 1 person

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