عنوان مقاله [English]
Today, about the thirteen so-called Portuguese carpets have been recognized at the museums and arts collections around the world. Their strange name must be due to a marine scene at the corners of the carpets’ field which represents European people and ships, a drowned man, some sea creatures and also a furious sea monster. Although, the main features of these carpets are clearly oriental, whether in view of motifs or about technique of weaving, the title of Portuguese remained for them to this day. Surprisingly, despite the title, from the early 20th century an idea on the carpets about having an oriental origin has been totally accepted. As Persia and India were favorites for experts and researchers to attribute the origin of the Portuguese carpets to them, there was never a good and firm agreement on one of them, mainly because no one was enthusiastic for referring to historical documents, nor to get help from history. The popular theory around the meaning of the marine scene and its hidden story was initially unveiled by German orientalist Friedrich Sarre in 1931, who attributed the scene to the Jonah story. Another notable theory have been suggested by American-German historian Richard Ettinghausen that in the early 1960s considered the drowned man of the carpets as a Persian merman. Neither the Jonah story nor European mermen could be the miraculous key to solve the sophisticated problem, because the way of representing through the marine scene has not any common factors with them. Visualization of Jonah in the European arts has been defined in a way as he is swallowed halfway by a large fish. In the Jonah story there are no yelling or gestures from him for surviving. Actually, it was his own choice to be cast in the sea. The carpets’ drowned man obviously gestures for crew to inform them of his drowning. He wants to survive. He wants to live. It is notable that European mermen have not any portrayal in Persia. Perhaps what Ettinghausen had in his mind was Anahita, the Persian goddess of the waters. In this case, Anahita always has a feminine incarnation and she has never been illustrated in the form of a drowned man.
There are many similarities between the marine scene and the Mughal marine miniatures, especially those which are attributed to a great and skillful painter of Mughal courts called Miskina. First time in 1930s it was Hermann Trenkwald who noted the Mughal marine miniatures as a source for the Portuguese carpets. He didn’t extend the subject. In 1972, Charles Grant Ellis presented a Mughal miniature with the scene of death of Bahadur Shah, Sultan of Gujarat, as the fountain-head for the carpets’ marine scene and suggested that the carpet weavers in Gujarat wove the Portuguese carpets in memory of their killed sultan. That miniature is a deadly naval warfare scene, while the marine scene of carpets is not. On the other hand, why the tragic death scene of a great sultan would be woven by his people? If they wanted to commemorate his memory, wasn’t it more desirable to show him on the throne as we could see in oriental cultures? There are many Persian carpets representing the portraits of kings in this way.
This paper enjoyed a comparative study with a historical perspective to compare these miniatures and carpets with the aim of illuminating the origin of the Portuguese carpets. The results show that the motifs such as a man climbing ship mast, rectangular sails, the gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), Europeans who react exaggeratedly to sea misfortunes and a drowned man, could be abundantly find in Mughal marine miniatures and the Portuguese carpets. A fact could be realized that there is no hidden story for the marine scene, mainly because these motifs are everywhere in the marine miniatures without having any connection with the story of painting. So, it is understandable that what was important for the painters was just representing Europeans and their ships on the sea. The Portuguese carpets had been designed by Mughal main painters for the court of Akbar the Great. It is most likely that Miskina was the main designer of these carpets. After him, we should suggest two other painters, Kissu and his pupil Deherras. The carpets were woven by the weavers of Akbar’s court in Punjab, and also in the other main cities of Mughal at that time, including Agra and Fatehpur Sikri and Lahore. Based on the historical documents, the main purpose for doing such a weird oriental carpets in India could be for trading purposes at the end.
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