Flowered branches, ribbons of cloud, peonies and lotus flowers frame a virtual court of figures, delicately depicted, intent on hunting lions, gazelles, tiny foxes and wild donkeys. You’re not crazy about rugs? Think again. Because the rug in the collection of the Museo Poldi Pezzoli, one of the most extraordinary in the world, will surely surprise you. For starters, it is signed and dated, particularly rare for Persian rugs. It was woven between 1542 and 1543 and comes from Western Persia. Its large size and the hunting scenes with both real and imagined creatures, suggests a royal gathering, perhaps that of the Shah and the piece was held by Italian royalty from the XVI Century until 1927, when it became part of the collection of the Milanese museum after having belonged to the Medici and the Savoia families. Seven metres by three-and-a-half metres, with a symmetric and specular design with a medallion with sixteen lobes at its centre, a motif replicated in its corners, its red background is covered with a grid of branches with flowers surrounded by birds in flight, perhaps phoenixes - it is a dream rug with, at its ends, the medallion with a title block and a pendant reminiscent of the lamps of mosques. But what is most striking is the hunt itself, a magnetic triumph of foot soldiers and cavalry, the horses themselves portrayed in minute detail. The eye falls upon the figures, armed with bows and arrows and wearing colourful jackets, turbans and red plumes, their expressions full of emotion. Besides depicting the Shah’s favourite past-time, a perfect training routine for war, the hunt symbolised the struggle between good and evil, instinct and reason. Symbols of the holy and the royal, icons of power, such rugs were often diplomatic gifts. And such may have been the case with the The Hunt Rug.
Francesca Grego - © 2021 ARTE.it for Bulgari Hotel Milano