These two magnificent carpets are among the fewer than five hundred that survive from the court of the Mughal emperors. Woven in northern India in the mid-seventeenth century, they are luxurious objects in terms of both the fabrics used to make them (silk and cashmere) and the artistically complex patterns that they display. The Frick carpets date from the reign of Shah Jahan (1628–58) and were probably made at the royal factory in Lahore, one of India's main cities for carpet production.
In constant use in palaces and mosques, carpets seldom survive in pristine condition over the centuries. The Frick rugs were each assembled from fragments of much larger carpets at some point during the nineteenth century, a common practice at the time owing to the demand by collectors.
The larger of the two, which is decorated with rows of trees, was most likely assembled from the carpet that was sent as a gift to the tomb mosque of Sheikh Safi in Ardabil in Persia by Shah Jahan himself. Its decoration, like that of the smaller carpet — which displays a variety of flowers — is meant to represent a garden in a mode directly connected with Mughal miniatures and relief decoration. Their rich crimson color is typically associated with Indian carpets from this period and provides a vibrant and sumptuous background against which the plants are set.
Henry Clay Frick purchased the two carpets in 1918 as furnishings for his New York home at 1 East 70th Street. This display presented the results of a nearly four-year restoration by pre-eminent textile conservator Nobuko Kajitani.