TYPE: Right facing five clawed dragon pillar carpet

CIRCA: late 1800’s

This pillar carpet featuring a five clawed right facing blue dragon on a golden yellow background was made in the Ningxia region of China and was (originally) intended to go around a pillar, or column, in a large ‘meditation’ hall in Buddhist monastery (so that it appeared the dragon encircled the pillar). Across the very top is a narrow border of undyed dark brown wool, and two very narrow guards strip of light and dark blue dyed wool. Beneath that are three disembodied heads (possibly stylised Dzeepa’s – see * below – although the ‘third eye’ shown in each is not how they are usually portrayed) which represent protective guardians intended to ward off evil, while hanging beneath them are three small banners (or stylised lanterns) with a necklace of pearls strung between them. The dragon itself chases the elusive ‘Flaming Gem’ amid scattered clouds, while at the bottom are stylized waves, clouds and mountains, with the fabled Mt Meru at the very center.

Also depicted in the main field are two of the Eight Auspicious Symbols, The Conch Shell and The Wheel. The auspicious blast from The Conch – when fashioned into a horn – is said to scare away harmful creatures and banish evil spirits, while The Wheel – forever turning like the movement of the universe – represents motion, and both continuity and change. It was made in the second half of the 1800’s, probably fourth quarter, has cotton warp and weft and the size is 265cm x 80cm. Originally bought from a Tibetan national in the early 1970’s in Kathmandu, Nepal it has been in that one collectors hands ever since (until we now have it in our possession) and this is the first time it has been for sale on the open market since he bought it over 50 years ago. It could benefit from a professional wash (as the back is ‘superficially’ dirty) but overall it is in very good condition for its age with no colour runs or reweaves / repairs.

The photo at bottom right with the two pillar carpets – right and left facing dragons – is this carpet juxtaposed alongside another ‘similar’ but shorter pillar carpet featured here https://warpandweft.club/portfolio-item/ningxia-item-18/ and shows how these type of carpets would have been arranged facing each (when wrapped around opposing pillars).

*Dzeepa’s, usually portrayed as a disembodied head, are ancient mythological creatures used to keep evil spirits at bay, and their likeness is very common in several countries throughout Asia. Depending on their locale they go by various names, and assorted spellings; for instance in Tibet he is known as Dzeepa (sometimes spelt Dzeeba / Dzeepa / Zeepa / Zeepah, or variations thereof), while to the Newars of Nepal he is Chepu / Cheppu, and in India he is Kirtimukha. Dzeepa’s can also be seen portrayed on some of the other banner and pillar carpets featured on the page https://warpandweft.club/ningxia/.

SIZE: 265cm x 80cm

WARP: cotton

WEFT: cotton

KNOT COUNT: 34kpsi +/-

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