BAHĀR-E KESRĀ “The spring of Ḵosrow” (Ṭabarī), Farš-e zamestānī “Winter carpet” (Baḷʿamī), or Bahārestān “Spring garden” (Ḥabīb al-sīar), a huge, late Sasanian royal carpet. The carpet measured 60 cubits (araš, ḏerāʿ) square (ca. 27 m x 27 m), that may have covered the floor of the great audience hall (Ayvān-e Kesrā) at the winter capital of Madāʾen. 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 colored 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 Ḥabīb al-sīar explains that when one sat on it in winter, it was as if it was spring.
When Madāʾen fell to the Muslims in 16/637 this carpet was too heavy for the Persians to carry away so it was taken with the other booty. The Muslims called it al-qeṭf “the picked” and, since it was left over after Saʿd b. Abī Waqqāṣ divided the booty, he sent it to ʿOmar in Medina. Although the assembly agreed that ʿOmar should use his own judgment in disposing of it, ʿAlī was concerned lest someone be deprived of a rightful share in the future; so ʿOmar cut it up and divided it among the Muslims. Although ʿAlī did not receive one of the best pieces, he sold his for 20,000 dirhams.
Ṭabarī, I, pp. 2452-54.
Baḷʿamī, Tārīḵ, 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-Aṯīr (repr.), II, p. 518.
Ḥabīb al-sīar, Tehran, I, p. 483.
Survey of Persian Art VI, pp. 2274-75.
(M. G. Morony)
Originally Published: December 15, 1988
Last Updated: August 23, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. III, Fasc. 5, p. 479