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Antique Zili Sultan

Zuli Sultan Sotheby's Lot 140, November 2008Zil-i-Sultan, sometimes spelled zili sultan or zuli sultan have been noted by P.R.J. Ford's in the book "Oriental Carpet Designs" as coming from the area of abadeh Iran.  Sotheby's has attributed lot 140, a "Zili Sultan, LOT 140" (seen right) of a November 25 Sale 2008 as being a "Northwest Persia" Rug. This particular piece measured approximately 4'x6'2" with an estimate of $6,000 - 8,000 and was unsold, passed or withdrawn.

While origin is not entirely clear, what is well understood about these rugs, especially those of which were made in and around 1900, is that the design is almost always a repeating field.  The rugs rarely exceeded 5'x7' in size, and typically featured high knot density, very thin sheared piles, and intricate interpretation somewhat geometric floral motif in the main field (very little negative space).  borders were often narrow and geometric as well.

Seen below:  A Zili Sultan Circa 1900 from a private collection.  Size is approximately 4'5"x6'10".



Below: Corner design of a Zili Sultan Carpet from Persia.  Note the purple selvages, which are sometimes also seen in similar vintage geometric design Fereghan Rugs.

Zili Sultan Carpet


Below:  While Zili Sultan Rugs are often very fine rugs by definition of weave, density and close shearing, it's important to inspect in person.  One typical problem we've consistently seen in many examples is a dry wool, and sometimes brittle cotton foundation.  Additionally, as seen in the image below, there is color migration of the red wool dyes.  Both the dry fibers and color run are important to assess in any weaving, especially Zili Sultans, as they will affect value.

Zili Sultan Color Run   


Below:  One end of the Zili Sultan Collection Rug.  Note how the fringes, or warps, have been wrapped into a tight flatwoven skirt.

End of Zili Sultan Rug


Below: Knot density, a typical antique Zili Sultan.   This rug has approximately 17x21 knots, or 357 KPSI.  Also note in the lower left of the rug, there is some color run from the bright red dyes to the ivory even seen in this photograph of the reverse side of the rug.



*Ford, P R. oriental carpet Design, A Guide to Traditional Motifs, Patterns and Symbols. London: Thames & Hudson, 2007. 335




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