Cover image for The carpet : origins, art and history
The carpet : origins, art and history
Milanesi, Enza.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Buffalo, N.Y. : Firefly Books (U.S.), 1999.
Physical Description:
200 pages : color illustrations ; 32 cm
General Note:
Translation of: Il tappeto.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NK2795 .M55 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order



From the perspective of Western culture, it is not always easy to understand the complexities of the antique Oriental carpet. Part of the fascination lies in its dual nature as a simple, even humble artifact intended to be used in a variety of ways as well as a sophisticated artistic object with ancient designs unfamiliar to us. Providing the tools to understand the decorative and technical aspects of a carpet, including its geographic area of production, The Carpet: Origins, Art and History is a handsome reference book for lovers of art and antiques who are eager to deepen their knowledge of this intriguing world. Intentionally neither a manual nor a guide, this book aims to inform and captivate.

The Carpet celebrates its subject with clear and concise text as well as photographs and design diagrams that illustrate the most important ancient carpets. The stunning photographs capture the beauty and intricacy of this extraordinary art and play an important role in the critique and analysis of the various carpet specimens. With diagrams and drawings, this book provides an inspiring study of the carpet in all its dimensions, from decoration and its interpretation to the layout system, the ornamental motifs and their symbolic meaning and origin.

Author Notes

Art historian Enza Milanesi lives in Rome, Italy, where she teaches and lectures on artistic techniques and has, for many years, assisted the Italian Ministry of Cultural Assets in the cataloging of art-history materials. A scholar and an avid lover of antiques, Milanesi has a special affection for the world of carpets.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

There are many "curated by experts" books on the art of the oriental carpet, most of which--if targeted to rank amateurs--tend to be pompous, filled with jargon, and simply overflowing with data. Here, the presentation is simple, executed by a lover and scholar of this knotted art form. Italian appreciator Milanesi explores first the overall terrain of the carpet, explaining its origins, composition, and meanings and decorations. Much information is revealed in the color photographs and illustrations, accompanied by text. A map with color insets, for instance, depicts the geography of carpets far better than words alone. And, as expected, Milanesi allows eight different "countries," from Anatolia to Europe, to show their aesthetic floorcovering wares through pictures and brief annotations about date, origins, and design interpretation. --Barbara Jacobs

Library Journal Review

Art historian Milanesi presents a beautiful photographic compendium of carpets representing the main geographic areas of production: Anatolia, Persia, the Caucasus, India, western and eastern Turkestan, China, and the historical European centers. More than just a pretty catalog, her book serves as a useful guide for identifying and studying carpets. Milanesi ably describes and illustrates materials, dyes, knots, and weaving technology and examines layout and design; also provided is an analysis of the cultures in which these carpets were created. The text combines a discussion of the symbolism of motifs with a visual presentation of photographs and design diagrams. While providing a comprehensive stylistic study and interpretation that will interest experts, Milanesi gives even a novice the ability to understand the decorative and technical aspects of these functional yet sophisticated artistic objects. Recommended for general and subject collections.--Judith Yankielun Lind, Roseland Free P.L., NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Milanesi's book, a translation from the Italian, was envisioned "to go beyond the historical and technical aspects by studying ... the cultural aspects of carpet making." The cultural aspects are not treated as such but included in comments in two groups of essays, "The World of Carpets" and "The Art of the Carpet." The first part discusses the history, production, design, symbolism, decorative motives, etc.; the second examines the various geographical areas of production with representative examples from Central and Western Asia, Turkestan, China, India, and Europe. Each rug is illustrated in color and discussed in an accompanying commentary. There are many of the so-called "classical" carpets in the first section, supplemented in the second with rugs mostly from the 19th-20th centuries from Italian private collections. Rug motifs and layouts are explained with black-and-white drawings, diagrams, and "boxed" text to complement the essay. A glossary and list of museums with carpet collections are included. Readers may be disappointed by the absence of complete technical analyses. A detailed map noting the location of the many centers of production would have been valuable. All levels. C. Kane; formerly, New York School of Interior Design