Christie’s biannual auction Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds Including Oriental Rugs and Carpets offers the Pommersfelden ‘polonaise’ carpets, two silk and metal-thread rugs from Isfahan, which have remained together since they were first woven over 400 years ago Both carpets were woven in the Persian court ateliers of Shah Abbas the Great (1502-1722) at the beginning of the 17th century.

According to family tradition they entered the lavish and influential court of Augustus the Strong, Saxon Elector and future king of Poland who gifted them in 1695 to Lothar Franz von Schönborn, Archbishop of Mainz and Arcchancellor of the Holy Roman Empire.

They remained in the Schönborn’s Summer palace, which houses one of the most important and illustrious German baroque collections, for over three hundred years. In astonishing condition for their age, they have never-before been seen on the open market and epitomize the very best of Safavid art.


Shah Abbas was very much an internationalist, welcoming foreigners to his empire; he even employed an Englishman, Sir Robert Shirley, as Persia’s ambassador to the courts of Europe. Cordial relations were established, and Polonaise carpets proved popular diplomatic gifts.

Polonaise carpets were first woven in the late-16th century and continued throughout the 17th century, with around 300 surviving today. They’re renowned for their elegant patterns and bright, harmonious colour combinations. The two examples coming to auction date to what is generally considered the finest period of production, the first quarter of the 17th century.

The amount of metal thread still extant illustrates the carpet’s excellent condition

From: 5 minutes with… Two rare ‘Polonaise’ Carpets –Louise Broadhurst, International Head of Oriental Rugs and Carpets at Christie’s London,

Christies Online Magazine

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