117a-Buti Fragment, late 18th c.

A fine, rare design, well executed and drawn with wonderful clarity of botanical details on a soft, saffron ground. An overall horizontal linearity pervades the blossom in the use of tiny rectilinear lines and of course of right facing ‘tulip’ blossom. Securing and supporting the bouquet we find below a ‘winged’ leaf facing left and a small leafy raceme facing right, adding a nice free-spacing touch to a lovely almost fully developed boteh. Framing the three tiered pallu of staggered boteh as the typical 18th century hashias with their three floral bud repeats. Size: 23 x 10 inches.

Nemati Collection, sale 11 April 2016, Paris

About 115 shawls, Kashmiri and European,  will go up for sale in Paris, the large majority of which are the ‘garden variety’ types. That is to say they are the most frequent types,  encountered at flea markets and antique shops. Some body spent a ton of money to produce a glossy catalogue for common Victorian shawls most of which will struggle if not fail to reach even their low estimates. Nevertheless, a few do stand out such as the two 1830 moon shawls one of which appears to possess an attractive green ground color. Whether the photo had been Photoshopped is another question. Five other moon shawls are in the sale as well as a rare prayer niche kani shawl, lot 88,  (3.3 x 4.5 feet; est. 5-10,000 euros) which I had published way back in 1986 ( see reprint 2003, p312, CP181).  A nicely drawn vase sitting on a chevron edged dish, supports a huge spray of multitudinous flower blossoms. Three large ‘ferris wheels’ of flower buds form the bottom and one at the pinnacle bespeak of a radial style that became most popular during the second half of the 18th century. A late 18th century date would not be out of line for this piece. Its outer red border, quite mosaic in character, might hint an early 19th century date but one could conceivably understand that this might have been a later addition. Certainly the narrow silk ground hashes have a good age and my guess is that most of the shawl weaving, except for the outer border,  was done all on the same loom and in one piece. Naturally without seeing it in person and inspecting the reverse it’s impossible to state with certainty that a seam doesn’t exist some place.

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The big problem with these overall reddish prayer mats is that they lack aesthetic appeal, especially ones whose flowers are for the most part geometricized or one could almost say pixelated. However at this low estimate there will be many bids and should provide a much needed boost of adrenaline for the rest of the sale. Three other lots are worth mentioning which will surely bring big money compared to the puny shawls being offered. Mughal patch or waistband end with six imperial style poppy blossom on gold silk ground, lot 126. the Armenian needlepoint from Karabakh whose size was given as 12 x 3.3 feet -obviously a typo for the length, which in my estimate should be approx. 5 feet- has been estimated at  between 40 and 60,000 euros. And finally a small but significant 16/17th century  Safavid fragment with full length princely figures and their attendants in a garden of flowers, with an estimate 8-10,000 euros.

213- Signature detail and translation




The bottom line reads as follows:

Farmāyish-i nau tarh-i mumtāz a’lā a’lā bas a’lā

“Newly commissioned, superb pattern of the finest, finest, very finest.”

Given that it’s from Kashmir and the Persian may not be quite so fine as the pattern, it could also mean “commission of a new pattern (followed by all the superlatives).”


The top line makes no sense to me, but it might to you:

600 va-909 barakat (?) 991

I have no idea what the “600 and 909” is. The word I’ve read as barakat has no dots, so it’s difficult to know what it is supposed to be. The shape looks like barakat ‘blessing,’ but that doesn’t make any sense with the “991” on top. This is the way they often write dates, but I can’t think of any dating word (years or months in any known system) with that shape. If this shawl could be around 80 years old, then 991 could stand for the year 1991 of the Vikramaditya Era (we are in 2072 now)—just a guess even though it would be very strange for a Vikramaditya year to appear in Persian. It can’t be a Hegira year since we are in the 1400s now. “Barakat” could be somebody’s name.


Off at the end (left end) of the top line is something that looks like a Hindi “2.” It isn’t anything in Persian.



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