Fatemeh Safaii Rad is a PhD candidate who currently conducts research that examines the presentation of the design of the Persian carpet within the context of the museum. Previous to this, Fatemeh completed a BA in Textile Design and an MA in Jewellery Design and has successfully run her own textile/jewellery design business.
Fatemeh Safaii Rad
Reinterpreting the Persian Art and Carpet at the Museums: the history of a curatorial (mis) understanding of design
This thesis examines the presentation of the design of the Persian carpet at museums such as the Louver Museum in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin, the National Portrait Gallery the Victoria and Albert Museum and more. In particular it considers ways in which interpretation of these artefacts by contemporary curatorial staff is conveyed to the public, in captions, catalogues and in the way they are arranged and presented; it argues that these interpretive strategies inherit historic misunderstandings around Persian versus Islamic art and design.
The overarching characterisation of the contents of the Jameel Gallery as Islamic is reassessed. In order to establish its main arguments around the interpretation of Persian carpets, the paper traces the development of popular interest in ‘Persian’ art and carpets in nineteenth-century Europe, establishing the context for the South Kensington Museum’s acquisition of art and carpets.
Informed by research at the V&A’s archives, and conversations with present-day curators, the paper assesses the derivation of the principal motifs of the Safavid (1502-1736 CE) carpet from Achaemenid (550-331 BCE) design; it posits a lack of understanding of these as leading to later curatorial misunderstanding, and traces the museum’s attitude to and interpretation of the Persian carpet from the mid-nineteenth century to today. It critically reappraises the presentation of such carpets to the public through successive of V&A exhibitions, leading to the opening of the Jameel Gallery in 2006.
Fatemeh Safaii Rad is a PhD candidate who currently conducts research that examines the presentation of the design of the Persian carpet within the context of the museum. Previous to this, Fatemeh completed a BA in Textile Design and an MA in Jewellery Design, and has successfully run her own textile and jewellery design business.
Fatemeh's thesis represents Persian visual art within the carpet and is a study of material culture, unlike earlier works by scholars and curators in museums whereby Persian carpet interpretations do not include historical background. She is in direct contact with hundreds of carpet makers in Iran at present and is sharing her research and knowledge with them. She has persuaded them to provide a certificate for each carpet, which includes region, patterns, design and motifs, which will represent the story behind each carpet and of the ancient historical background, for example; the life of the social political kings and poets, and is using her professional practice knowledge that gives expert advice within a particular field of Persian carpets.
- Rad, Fatemeh Safaii. (2012). Subjectivity and the Cultural Constraints of Academic Literature in Material Culture: An Investigation into the Discussion of Pattern and Symbol in Persian Carpets. Metronome, 2. pp. 31-42.