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94/42/2 Rug, knotted pile, wool / cotton, Khotan, Xinjiang, China (formerly East Turkestan), 1920 - 1950. Click to enlarge.

Knotted pile rug from Khotan

This colourful hand knotted rug was probably woven in Khotan, a city on the southern rim of the Taklamakan Desert in East Turkestan, now China's Xinjiang province. Worked in wool, bright with synthetic dyes, its imagery reveals a cross-fertilisation of Chinese and Central Asian decorative motifs, while the large lotus motif in the centre of the rug is a familiar symbol of Buddhism.

'Khotan' is sometimes used as a generic term for rugs of this type from the Xinjiang region, alhough there has …


Object No.


Object Statement

Rug, knotted pile, wool / cotton, Khotan, Xinjiang, China (formerly East Turkestan), 1920 - 1950

Physical Description

The rug was hand knotted using asymmetrical knots in synthetically dyed wool on a cotton warp with cotton wefts between the rows of knots. The field is a bright red/pink, and the other predominant colours are yellow, green, ivory and black. In the centre of the field is a stylised lotus medallion, and evenly placed throughout the surrounding field are large delicately-drawn pomegranate, floral and geometric motifs. At each corner of the field there is a stylised key fret design derived from the Chinese cloudband pattern. The inner border has a diagonal stripe which is broken by a flower motif and the outer border contains a geometric stylised floral design. There are short cotton warp fringes at each end.



1425 mm



The warps and wefts of this village or workshop rug are both of cotton with asymmetrically knotted wool pile; some of the pile is undyed, the rest dyed using synthetic dyes. The rug's colour palette of bright red/pink with yellow, green, ivory and black also originally included purple (possibly from mauvine) and a pale blue. There was a wide range of synthetic dyes and good fasteners on the market when this rug was made.

The rug was made in or near Khotan (now sometimes written as Hotan), an oasis city on the southern border of the Tarim basin in East Turkestan (now Xinjiang province in western China). Khotan was on the southern route of the ancient Silk Roads and, traditionally, the area was inhabited by the Turkic-speaking Muslim Uyghur people. Written evidence suggests carpets were woven in Khotan as early as the 7th century and by 1870 it was estimated that 5,000 carpets were exported annually from Khotan and the surrounding villages. Khotan is thought to be the source of most of the medallion rugs emanating from Xinjiang.

Early rugs woven in Khotan are likely to have three wool wefts between each row of knots, while later rugs such as this one have a cotton wefts, as well as a cotton warp. Workshop carpet weaving in this area was done by men with professional masters moving about and, it is to be expected, transporting their designs along with them. During the 1700s and 1800s, some rugs were woven with metallic threads. Although it has been suggested that this rug may be from Kashgar, the structural and design evidence seem to support its origin in the Khotan area.



The rug was purchased in Hong Kong in 1960 by the donor Alastair Morrison and his wife Hedda. They took it with them back to Sarawak, where they had been living and working since 1949, and then to their new home in Australia in 1967.


Credit Line

Gift of Alastair Morrison, 1994

Acquisition Date

30 January 1994

Cite this Object


Knotted pile rug from Khotan 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 27 October 2021, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Knotted pile rug from Khotan |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=27 October 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}