A Rare Old Sixteenth Century
Persian Prayer Rug
Prayer rugs differ in a number of ways from those put to other uses, being particularly distinguishable by a Mosque-like arch in the design, to remind the worshipper of the sacred Mosque at Mecca, in whose direction the pious Mohammedan prostrates himself five times daily. The prayer rug is thus of intimate importance, in the life of the Moslem. Within its folds, he wraps the articles he employs in the observance of his religious duties. These include a small compass, with which he may, on his travels, determine the direction of Mecca, his Koran, his cake of earth from the holy city of Mecca, and his rosary of 99 beads, one for each of the 99 names of Allah.
The rug pictured, is a beautiful example of Persian skill, with over a thousand knots to the square inch. If any slight imperfection is found in design or workmanship, it may be attributed, not to carelessness, but to the desire of the Moslem weaver to illustrate his belief that nothing can be perfect save Allah.
The orthodox or Sunnite Mohammedan never incorporates forms of animal or human life into his weaving, since the Koran forbids it as a form of idolatry. Further, a Moslem so sacrilegious as to assume to himself one of God's functions, that of the creations of life, even in form, will be commanded, on the day of judgment, to endow such creations with a soul.
The beautiful roses of Persia inspired the flowery design of the rug pictured to the left.
A prayer from the Koran forms the border, which, translated from the Arabic, reads thus:
"We implore thy mercy, 0 Lord,
For unto Thee must we return.
God will not force any soul
Beyond its capacity;
It must have the good or evil
Which it gaineth."
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