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A Brief History of Millefleurs Rugs
Mille-fleurs (in French), known in English as millefleur or mille-fleur literally means "thousand flowers" and refers to a background made of many small flowers and plants. It was an especially popular motif in tapestry and other applied arts and crafts during the Middle Ages in Europe. The term is also used to describe Oriental rugs with a similar design, originally Persian but later produced in much of the Middle East and Mughal India. The medieval European style may have been influenced by Persian miniatures or carpets.
The Mughal emperors Shah Jahan (1627-1658) and Shah Aurangzeb (1658-1707) had a great appreciation for this particular style and they commissioned their weavers to replicate these fine delicate motifs in the carpets that adorned their palaces throughout India. In 1730 the Persian Shah Nadir Quli (1688-1747) conquered parts of India and returned home with countless treasures, including textiles and Millefleurs carpets. This made a great impact on the decorative arts of Persia and the surrounding territories.
A "millefleurs" carpet has a bottom which is livened up with a motif of latticework; every containing alveolus is a flower. Certain specialists see an Italian origin in this decor which is also present in the Indian architectural decoration of the XVIIth century, and XVIIIth centuries, notably in nephrite rooms set by precious stones. Several carpets adorned with these compositions are endowed with a line of a multicoloured silk chain, a characteristic of weavers from Lahore, Pakistan.
Sources and inspiration: Bérinstain, Valérie, et al. L'art du tapis dans le monde (The art of carpets in the world). Paris: Mengès, 1996. Print.; Jerrehian Jr., Aram K.A. Oriental Rug Primer. Philadelphia: Running Press, 1980. Print.; Herbert, Janice Summers. Oriental Rugs, New York: Macmillan, 1982. Print.; Hackmack, Adolf. Chinese Carpets and Rugs, Rutland and Tokyo: Tuttle, 1980. Print. ; De Moubray, Amicia, and David Black. Carpets for the home, London: Laurence King Publishing, 1999. Print.; Jacobsen, Charles. Oriental Rugs A Complete Guide, Rutland and Tokyo: Tuttle, 1962. Print.; Bashir, S. (n.d.). Personal interview.; Web site sources and dates of consultation vary (to be confirmed). Without prejudice to official usage.