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Bahar-e Kasra

"Bahārestān Carpet"


By: M. G. Morony


"The spring of Kosrow" (Tabarī), Farš-a zamestāni "Winter carpet" (Bal'amī), or Bahārestān "Spring garden" (Habib al-sīar), a huge, late Sasanian royal carpet.


The carpet measured 60 cubits (araš, derā') square (ca. 27 m x 27 m), that may have covered the floor of the great audience hall (Ayvan-a Kesra) at the winter capital of Ctesiphon.


Representations of paths and streams were embroidered on it with gems against a ground of gold. Its border was embroidered with emeralds to represent a cultivated green field in which were flowering spring plants with fruit embroidered with different coloured gems on stalks of gold with gold and silver flowers and silk foliage. It was used as a place to drink, as if in gardens, when the winter winds blew. The Habib al-sīar explains that when one sat on it in winter, it was as if it was spring.


When Mada'en fell to the Muslims in 637 CE this carpet was too heavy for the Persians to carry away so it was taken with the other booty. The Muslims called it al-qetf “the picked" and, since it was left over after Sa'd b. Abī Waqqās divided the booty, he sent it to 'Omar in Medina.


Although the assembly agreed that 'Omar should use his own judgment in disposing of it, 'Alī was concerned lest someone be deprived of a rightful share in the future; so 'Omar cut it up and divided it among the Muslims. Although 'Alī did not receive one of the best pieces, he sold his for 20,000 dirhams.



Tabarī, I, pp.2452-54.

Bal'amī, Tārīkh, Tehran, 1337 Š./1958, pp. 304-05; facs. ed., Tehran, 1344 Š./1966, p. 17 (description).

Idem, tr. Zotenberg, Chronique III, pp.417-18.

Ebn al-Athīr (repr.), 11, p.518.

Habib al-sīar, Tehran, I, p.483.

Survey of Persian Art VI, pp.2274-75.




Source/Extracted From: Encyclopaedia Iranica


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