Pictures of Comfort and Design: Carpets in Indian Miniature Painting
Recline in a comfortable place, an atmosphere of general well-being: Nowhere do carpets play such a large role as in the Islamic world. In a region where furniture was little-known for centuries, carpets allowed for relaxed sitting and sleeping. At the same time, they served as an important representational element and created an impressive ambiance at courtly events. This exhibition presents around 22 Indo-Islamic paintings from the Mughal era that demonstrate the use of carpets in the courtly context. The Mughal emperors were Islamic rulers who reigned over vast areas of India from 1526 to 1858. Babur, founder of the dynasty, came from Central Asia, bringing numerous customs to his new homeland, including the use of carpets as preferred furnishings. We know from the accounts of court historian Abu'l-Fazl that the requirements of the first Mughal emperor were originally satisfied by Persian imports. In addition, the first Indian workshops in Agra, Lahore (present-day Pakistan), and Delhi initially employed Persian artists, and this influenced early Indian carpet production. By the 17th century, a characteristically Mughal style developed that featured striking floral and vegetal motifs as well as latticework patterns. The paintings on display demonstrate how the carpets animated the palace architecture, which was built from light and reddish stone; created intimate resting places, and created textile rooms outdoors. In addition to the miniature paintings on display, some fragments of Mughal Indian carpets from the collection of the Staatliche Museen's Museum für Islamische Kunst are exhibited, demonstrating the connection between the representations and the real, preserved objects.