Antique Persian Qalamkar prayer mat, Isfahan, Iran


The textile is an important religious item and is hand-made using a traditional Iranian woodblock printing technique and featuring architecture-inspired motifs.


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The richly decorated cotton prayer mat was hand-made in the late 19th century by skilled Iranian craftsmen.

The restrained colour palette is predominated by shades of red, blue and green, creating an elegant and cohesive design. The three colours are expertly applied into woodblock printed shapes.  Numerous floral motifs are interspersed throughout and combined with geometrical shapes. The patterns depicted on this textile are inspired by the Safavid architecture, a common muse for pieces of this type. The overall composition appears as if it is depicting a façade of a mosque. The central mihrab (also called a prayer niche) is reminiscent in shape of the arch-shaped prayer niches found in mosques. Surrounding it are further architectural features and two columns on either side of the mihrab completing the look of the entryway to the sacred place of prayer.

The prayer mat features Arabic markings in the bottom centre.

Qalamkar refers to the traditional Persian technique of woodblock printing onto a cotton fabric. The process is around 400 years old and originates from Isfahan, Iran. All materials used during this craft are natural and derived from local resources.

This prayer mat is not only an important religious artefact, but also a demonstration of the skills of Iranian makers.


Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
Late 19th Century
Late 19th Century
Arabesque, Floral, Islamic
Brown, Cream, Green, Red


135 cm / 53.1 inches
94 cm / 37 inches


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