Conserving the Emperor’s Carpet
Conserving the Emperor’s Carpet

– We’re standing in front
of The Emperor’s Carpet, one of the greatest Persian
carpets in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum. The carpet was produced
in the 16th century, most likely during the reign
of the great Shah of Iran, Shah Tahmasp. It is a remarkable carpet, and
we can only imagine the impact it must have made on visitors
to the Imperial Court. Somehow the extraordinary carpet
made its way north to Russia, perhaps through trade,
or as a diplomatic gift. Then around 1700 the carpet
was given to the Hapsburgs in Vienna by Peter the Great. After various owners,
it was purchased by the Metropolitan Museum
of Art in 1943. As amazing as it was,
it was also very fragile, and the museum only displayed
the emperor’s carpet to the public twice
in the next 60 years. By 2006, we realized that
we could only share the carpet with our public on a regular
basis if we were willing to embark on an ambitious
conservation program that would stabilize
its condition. (music playing) – The conservators are always
tempted to look pretty much in the details,
if possible under microscope, so you see the condition
of the fibers, you see the condition of the
dye, the structural condition. However, if you look, overall,
the condition of this piece, it’s marvelous. Even so, we have problems,
supported by patches. However, the warp and weft,
the pile, the quality of the fiber,
the quality of the dye, so high, tells us that it was made
for a special owner. We had to start analyzing
previous conservation. And looking mostly at
the back of the carpet, you’ll see the lining,
first red and rich silk fabric covering the whole carpet,
yet damaged. Remove that first level,
you find another lining. Now, removing the two layers
of fabric, you find other layers of conservation. Front and back
of this large carpet. Photography had been done
by the Photo Studio that gives us a clear record
of the conservation previous to our time. – This the first phase after
we remove the lining. It’s covered with over 660
patches, which is the effort of the previous people
who tried to conserve and preserve
this precious carpet. And then we are removing it,
because some of them are really tightly sewn,
or textiles shrunk, and it’s distorting
the original structure. – There’s no documentation as to
when the patches were put on. And it’s probably over
different periods, because there are several layers
of patches. And a lot of times we remove
a patch and then find a whole bunch of other
patches underneath. – And we collect everything
that we lose from the carpet, which we will use afterwards
to do dye analysis. And we also collect
the warp and the weft, which is actually made
out of silk. The pile is wool. That’s actually one of
the reasons why the carpet is fairly fragile, is because
the silk deteriorates more than the wool. – And we end up by removing
over 700 patches from this carpet. After relaxing the carpet,
we need to stabilize it. – We’ll back it
with wool fabric, which we’re in the process
of dying. We’re dying wool
in four colors to match the original colors
of the carpet– the red, the green,
a yellow, and a beige. The dyes of the carpet
are natural dyes. And we’re using synthetic dyes, so already that’s
a very big difference. And we went through a process
of trying different colors to match as close as possible. And we write the recipes
for each color so that we can duplicate it. And we actually give it out to
professional dyers afterwards, because we need a lot of
yardage, and we don’t really have the facility
to do that here. – The next challenge is to
assure the perfect bonding between our new material
and the carpet. The role of the fabric
is to support the carpet. We are preparing
for consolidating it. We have an example
in this corner of damaged area that has been
released from its previous treatment,
and that’s what we’re left with. There are not many areas
like this. Specific for corners. Also the center lines, where the
carpet must have been folded. The next part of the process
is to attach the fabric to the carpet. We have the fabric on the back
of the carpet, preparing for consolidating it. After this, carpet will move
to the loom, face up, and final stitches will be done
from the front. (music playing) – I’m trying to document
the structure of this partially
preserved selvedge. Under microscope, I’m looking
at the very small fragment of the selvedge. Selvedges are on the sides
of the carpet, and they have a very
important function, because they reinforce
the entire carpet. Weavers treated the selvedge
differently, so selvedge can tell us what
specific area or perhaps even manufacturer
the carpet was produced in. There are not too many
selvedges survived to our time, so that’s why it’s a great
source of technical information for us. – Finally, after a massive
three-year project, it is laid out
in full before us. The conservation work
has consolidated the carpet, and we clearly see what has
made it so dazzling. There are the beautiful,
rich colors with the central field and
a border in a contrasting color. The central field is
a forest of animals, as if you have come across
an amazing landscape of both real
and fantastic creatures. In the borders are several
layers of scrolling arabesques. And sometimes you find
animal heads hidden away in the foliage. The Persian calligraphy
reinforces the visual language we see in the carpet. Its verdant beauty is evoked
with verses like the one that says,
“Come, for the breeze of spring has renewed the promise
of the meadow.” Other lines praise the king,
calling on him to enjoy eminence forever. A carpet of this complexity
and beauty is really only possible
by the 16th century in Iran, when technical innovations
such as the cultivation of silk and the knowledge about dyes
had developed alongside the extraordinary aesthetic
sophistication of the Safavid court. It is so exciting that now, as a result of this
conservation campaign, the public can experience
the carpet as never before. (music playing)

100 thoughts on “Conserving the Emperor’s Carpet”

  1. Osel Somar says:

    Do they have any men working in the museum conservation??/

  2. Mobin92 says:

    WTF was going on with all those patches? Wow.

  3. Angel Wilson says:

    I love this so much.

  4. Jacksirrom says:

    Very cool. Crazy how these carpets last so long, and likely with actual use for most of the time they've existed.

  5. Ayush Srivastava says:

    Reconstruction of anchor should be done first. My dog speaks better english than her

  6. Aoid jao says:

    Fuck that carpet

  7. murtaza hassan says:

    Iran still produce such piece of arts. I also have such carpets imported from Iran. It's a speciality there to make such awesome carpets. They are all hand made instead of machines and that's why expensive. They are very hard to wash 😁😁

  8. Shmores says:


  9. Teekoness says:

    “This, milord, is my family's axe. We have owned it for almost nine hundred years, see. Of course, sometimes it needed a new blade. And sometimes it has required a new handle, new designs on the metalwork, a little refreshing of the ornamentation . . . but is this not the nine hundred-year-old axe of my family? And because it has changed gently over time, it is still a pretty good axe, y'know. Pretty good.”

    ― Terry Pratchett, The Fifth Elephant

  10. Lecl Lecl says:

    That carpet is shot lol

  11. Ermuggo says:

    I hope someone got to walk across it.

  12. TheTarrMan says:

    I would like to walk across it with my shoes on.

  13. 25k Subs with No Videos Challenge says:

    burn that shit you dumb white folks

  14. Dmitriy Obidin says:

    And it was just a carpet fir people back then… Imagine museums in 2200-2300 trying to restore that louis vuitton purse or gucci t-shirt 🙂

  15. Espen Sales says:

    I don't get it. Why has the carpet's fragility anything to do with showing it to the public? Can't you just put it in a box in the museum so it doesn't get damaged by tourists?

  16. Andrzej Nowak says:

    Just power wash it 🙂

  17. Core says:

    I feel like they shouldve cleaned it as well

  18. Le Petit Lapin says:

    Just get the old carpet shampoo out, no worries 😛

  19. wkruit1 says:

    For a carpet about 450 years old, it looks remarkably fresh!

  20. Frank Lesser says:

    I have one just like this except a bit smaller. More a 3'x 4'. From Home Depot.

  21. caramel coffee says:

    i wanna just hang it up over the fence and give it a good beating lol

  22. Sara Nikdel says:

    Why didn’t you give it to Iranians to restore it! They know how to color naturally and how to weave it like the very original smh

  23. Emilen Nuarot says:

    There are no miracles from God, there are miracles of human hands. Thank you for saving masterpieces for posterity.

  24. Cerinaya says:

    I really hope they put something over the carpet to keep it from being destroyed by careless tourists. Some people can't be trusted in museums.

  25. Yasmin yas says:


  26. African Electron says:

    Jeez I would fold it up and stick it in my dogs kennel!

  27. DrQuadrivium says:

    Carpets are meant to be walked on and carpets ware out.

  28. Emily Baxendale says:

    That last scene shudders All that work, all that time… If it were me, I’d make some kind of aerated enclosed space set into the floor, with an industrial-strength glass pane over the top. Just leaving it out like that is asking for it to be destroyed. Some careless person spills their drink (that they weren’t supposed to have with them anyway) and the rug is ruined. Poof. 😱😰🤭🥺😭

  29. Tattooed Dragon says:

    The Met! Fucking up ancient relics so they can put them back together and call themselves "conservators".

  30. wodnyrak says:

    1:57 when the carpet was being uncovered I thought to myself: walking on it would be like stepping on golden and red grass.

  31. Lass-in Angeles says:

    What an incredible task! Almost as daunting as the making of this masterpiece. What a piece of luck it ended up at the Met where it is conserved, and not some dusty foreign castle with a thousand feet walking on it unconcerned. Magnificent work of restoration! Thank you for sharing.
    FYI – 4:43 The two ladies wearing the gorgeous Sudanese amber/ copal necklace and handmade cotton blouses were noticed, and duly appreciated! Beautiful fabrics, both of them!

  32. IAMDIMITRI says:

    Then you'd put it on the wall so to sound isolate a bit from the neighbours.

  33. VR VR says:

    I put an antique carpet in the washing machine once. I sure as shit learned.

  34. MOBILE COLLEGE says:

    If the Shah saw it today, he would probably say” I thought I threw that crap away after I tripped over it “

  35. KENZC62091 says:

    Just use a power washer to get that sucker clean.

  36. Dragon Esq says:

    Ahh a full team of wemon doing the sewing. All things in the world are right.

  37. Hunter Crosby says:

    The way they matched up the colors for the backing is fucking genius. I'm absolutely blown away by that.

  38. Panthersprung says:

    "hapsburgs"? come on pruh..

  39. KNOORE says:

    Amazing! Thank you!

  40. Joaquin Phoenix's forehead face says:

    0:01 first line. That's what she said

  41. big bear fuzzums says:

    Ugly burn it anything Islamic I'd derranged and unwanted

  42. Tom Pahdea says:

    Many people are bot aware that of silk and wool, silk is far more prown to deterioration called silk rot. You find it within collections of US election campaign paraphernalia such as ribbons and patches. The silk basically gets so fragile that it has no tnsil strength. The wool would be prone to failure due to the effects of dirt and grime on cutting the haors or insects festing on it. Sometimes the dye used can have an effect to introduces acids to the wool whicj may increase the amount of failure so having bald spots among pile that remains.

  43. Jeff Cockmann says:

    they should use one of those water vacuum cleaners

  44. Ali Farjam says:

    wow… just incredible

  45. Tom P says:

    Could at least give it a BIT of a wash.

  46. Chris The Canadian Camper says:

    Any and all islamic pieces should be incinerated. islam is cancer.

  47. zarza1 says:

    Extraordinary beauty.

  48. Arif says:

    For a clueless person like me, they could've at least explained a bit about why this carpet is so great

  49. Lewis Payne says:

    That rug really tied the room together

  50. alex says:

    I wonder if someone would preserve the very first dildo made…

  51. Sluggo says:

    You used synthetic dyes? Laziness, budgetary constraint or intentional choice? Seems like a travesty to me.

  52. lincolnlobster says:

    Have the museum custodian get out the old Dirt Devil vacuum and give that carpet a good sweep.

  53. Arash Fariman says:

    They could simply ask Iranian specialists and ask them for help. They have just repaired it like a fabric while carpet is so much different.

  54. Shuku M says:

    Interesting how there were no persians involved in the restoration process…

  55. nacht98 says:

    this should be in Iran not in usa

  56. Keshawn Spruill says:


  57. C.E. SCHLINK says:


  58. PetPeePee Oriental rug Urine Odor Removal Naturally. says:

    Love It

  59. rickmaggie1 says:

    I am glad they restore and maintain these historical items but to be honest with you I would not want to own anything that fragile. You can only look at it and admire it but also worry that something will happen to it, I would be anxious all the time. Anyway, great video by dedicated people.

  60. Ghizlane ZOUAI says:

    Iranian art is one of the finest in the world, I'm wondering why they didn't contact conservatives from Iranian museums/ Universities to help them since dying techniques are part of their crafts till now.

  61. Slam 420 says:

    Burn it in a dumpster

  62. Angie Kohli-Mckenzie says:

    why don't u give it back

  63. Catherine Malian says:


  64. Catherine Malian says:


  65. Catherine Malian says:


  66. Cassidy West says:

    4:07 Beige? That's very light green…

  67. Alisa Larsen says:

    Wow just wow 😮

  68. KarIgnishaYumi says:

    wish more detail was shown when sewing…unless the holes were kept or were they restored?

  69. Goodnight says:

    Man that rug really ties the room together

  70. Daniel Marquez says:

    Nice carpet to walk on

  71. Gideon says:

    It’s like a collage of gucci patches.

  72. Pravan Buljeeon says:

    Wtf… giving so much importance to a fu**ing carpet

  73. Rock Crusher says:

    Persian carpets were invented in Oklahoma City in 1928.
    Stop the lies !

  74. Bravo Luca says:

    Absolutely beautiful. Wonderful restoration. I’m sure it’s kept far away from grubby hands. I’m Sure we’ve seen this fabulous carpet on one of our many visits to the Met.

  75. NeoRipshaft says:

    "The Emperor's Carpet" seems like a perfect euphemistic expression or idiom… though I struggle to find a likely candidate target that would do it justice lol

  76. Наталья Медведева says:

    Легче создать новый по этой же технологии и из этих же материалов. А это старая рухлядь и от нее в конце концов нужно избавляться!

  77. says:

    why this iranean carpet is in property of Metropolitan Museum (since 1941)?

  78. Dadson worldwide says:

    cant save everything and this looks done to me.

  79. DFDalton1962 says:

    It's nice and all, but it could still benefit from a couple of passes with a Rug Doctor.

  80. Dalmatinka 10 says:

    Imagine, how many needle stitches these patient ladies had to do, all day and every day.
    I really respect their effort and expertise.

  81. Jacqueline Croasdale says:

    I'm a little disappointed that you didn't show a restored part so we could see what you did. Great video otherwise, congratulations to all those patient people who made it possible.

  82. Aser Rodriguez says:

    What?? You dare not show us the biggest areas of repair before and afters??? How dare you

  83. Den Koxh says:

    The MET bought it in 1943….riiight. replace the word 'bought' with 'stole'

  84. chip block says:

    I wonder how long it took to make the carpet in the first place. Five years?

  85. AB. B. says:

    I'm not at all impressed. They seem totally ignorant about the history of the carpet, even by American standards. And then go and ruin the carpet by lapping it up with fabrics that weren't there to start with. Amateurs.

  86. chad says:

    That’s the problem with museums they have tons of history packed away all be cause it doesn’t look perfect, or they need to repair it first. What about displaying history they way it’s supposed to be displayed…AGED! WORN! DILAPIDATED! USED! Instead conservators want to display history as it was when it was made. I want to see it today and how it has survived so long.

  87. Zed Williams says:

    Amazing. I would love to have seen the conserved, tattered corner.

  88. adi jaya says:


  89. Aries says:

    I wanna walk on it

  90. Stanley Ipkiss says:

    Romanca aia oare cum a ajuns acolo?

  91. Anon the-third says:

    That rug really tied the room together

  92. ann says:

    the secrets spilt while repairing this omg

  93. gary baca says:

    Someone noticed the beautiful music that is heard in the background, do you the name of the piece of music ?

  94. ryan barker says:

    5 years: the time it takes a team of highly skilled artisans to perform a conservation on a fabled rug. 5 seconds: the time it takes for my dog to decide to piss on it.

  95. Stock Brazen says:

    How the hell did i end up here

  96. electrojones says:

    Let it go. It's gone, man. It's gone.

  97. Yeah Itsme says:

    A lot of times, I find this to be a waste of everyone's time. If the museum wants to hold the original, I feel like it would be better to just REMAKE the damn thing with synthetics to make a replica as close as one can get and just put that on display versus messing with original pieces like this. Sometimes I realize it's worth it to restore something, like paintings, than to have an artist completely redo a painting. A restoration is often cheaper. But, for something like this, I feel like you could manufacture a very similar carpet for far cheaper than the work they put in to restore it and thus destroy a lot of its original nature. Besides, furniture and carpets are more interesting to see in its original, new state than a ragged old degraded patched piece.

  98. Rain Drop says:


  99. Andre Marais says:

    And now Iran is a shithole.

  100. M Z says:

    Just call Stanley Steemer!

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