chapter  3
'Portuguese’ carpets from Khorasan, Persia
Pages 9

While countless facts relating to late sixteenth and seventeenth century trade between Europe and Asia, as well as inter-Asian trade between the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Indian Ocean, have been well documented, the transmission of artistic conventions directly generated or inspired by that international trade are sometimes less well understood. Confusion over the exact origins of an object are extremely common during this period. One only has to consider the common trade names conventionally assigned to many textile types such as: ‘damask’/Damascus; ‘gauze’/Gaza; or ‘calico’/Calicut to realise that these titles often only refer to ports or market towns from which such goods were shipped, rather than their actual places of manufacture, which may or may not have anything to do with those specific cities. This is especially true when one studies the trade in oriental knotted-pile carpets. Merchants in Europe receiving these expensive luxury items for the first time were so far removed from their production that they really had no reliable means of verifying any specific carpet’s origins. In the absence of authentic information, one must remember that it was often in the interests of those selling oriental carpets to invent fanciful stories in an effort to artificially enhance their value.