A rare survivor from the original carpets woven to adorn the halls of the Imperial Palace within the Forbidden City will be offered at auction by Christie’s in Paris for €3,500,000-4,500,000. The carpet, woven in the 16th Century during the Ming dynasty, will be on exhibition in London at Christie’s King Street from October 23rd to 7th November.
Adorned with two five-clawed dragons and with a seed pearl at its center, it would have been placed on a raised platform upon which the throne of the Emperor, the ‘Son of Heaven’ would have been positioned, signifying his connection between the earth and the celestial heavens, it is in pristine condition. The carpet, which would have originally been woven in rich Ming Imperial red, now faded to a golden yellow, measures 5 x 4 meters approximately and is one of the highlights of the Exceptional Sale on November 23rd.
There are only 39 complete carpets in existence today out of the hundreds that were originally woven, 16 carry the highly-prized Imperial dragon, nine of which are in the Beijing Palace Museum with just seven remaining in private hands.
“Standing before such a carpet one cannot help but be transported back to the impressive palace interiors of the Ming Emperors. For this carpet to have survived in such remarkable condition is in itself a rare feat and we are honored to have the opportunity to offer this eminent work of art for sale.”Louise Broadhurst, Christie’s Rug and Carpet specialist
The carpet was said to have been bought in 1920 by a couple from Iowa on their honeymoon in China. They brought it back to America, loaned it to the Cleveland Museum of Art, and then sold it from their collection in 1987 to a private collector in Switzerland, the current vendor.