This July, ALTFIELD GALLERY is pleased to present a collection of fine carpets from the northern areas of China, including Ningxia, Baotou, Mongolia and Tibet; particularly those decorated with wonderful woven motifs representative of Buddhist thoughts and beliefs.

Rugs designed expressly for use by Buddhist adherents exist in different forms, perhaps the most distinguishable being the pillar rugs. They were used to decorate architectural pillars in temples and palaces. The typical design is a single dragon, moving with strength and bursting with energy, having a segmented body which assumes a continuous ascending spiral form when secured to the wooden pillar by ropes. Acting as graphic visual representations for mostly illiterate worshippers, they assumed a teaching role in much the same way that stained glass windows and sculptural porticos did in western cathedrals.

Other forms of Buddhist carpets served different functions. Single square prayer mats and long temple carpet runners made up of a series of identical squares, provided a comfortable place for one monk or long rows of monks to sit and pray. Another form unique to China is the seat rug, originally woven in two parts with a square section for the seat on which monks sat cross-legged in traditional Buddhist prayer pose, and a scalloped section which mirrored the shape of the chair back.