The production of antique Doroksh carpets began as part of the general revival of Persian arts and crafts, above all rug-weaving, that flourished under the Qajar dynasty in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Woven in the hill region not far from Qanat, they form a major part of the larger Khorassan carpet genre of Northeast Persia. This is an area with a very long rug-producing history reaching back to the Timurid Dynasty in the fifteenth century. Doroksh carpets are the heirs of this grand tradition. In the precision of their design and the fine scale of their technique they derive from the great masterpieces of Persian and Mughal Indian rug weaving.
Nearly thirty feet long, this magnificent example approaches the palatial scale of such classical forerunners. The field has a meticulous allover pattern of palmettes, sickle-shaped leaves, and interlacing vines known as the ‘Herati’ pattern, named for the Timurid capital of Herat in Afghanistan, where it was first developed. The scale of the pattern is small and delicate, and it sweeps across the extensive surface of the field in an infinite repeat. The small scale and precision of the design depends entirely on the very fine, tight weaving technique for which Doroksh carpets are famed.
The border system is no less complex. The main, Mughal-inspired border consists of a lattice of vines and small palmettes rather than a single running vinescroll. The various vines or tendrils flow diagonally and intersect in a larger staggered, network design whose delicate proportions and liberal spacing create an aura of openness despite the rich detail. The two minor borders to either side are also more elaborate than usual. They are comprised of facing c-shaped vines in a kind of staggered figure-eight arrangement. Multiple narrow guard borders intervene to underscore yet again the aura of complexity, while producing a framing structure for the field.
Still, the elaborate design of the carpet with its thousands of tiny, detailed motifs, does not at all overwhelm the viewer, largely thanks to the highly restrained, tone-on-tone palette of cool tans, grays, rose, saffron, and ivory, with sparing use of mauve and salmon for accents. Here the carpet seems to reflect the reserved classical coloration the great Aubusson and Savonnerie carpets produced in France for Louis the XIV and his successors.
This outstanding carpet has a distinguished pedigree or provenance. It was formerly owned by renowned patrons and collectors of the arts, Ruth Vanderbilt Twombly, and then Doris Duke. Doris Duke was in fact a great lover of French Aubusson carpets, so it comes as no surprise that this coolly-classic Doroksh formed an integral part of her outstanding collection.