The Ardebil is probably the best known of all classical Persian carpets, and innumerable copies of the original were made ranging in size from small rugs to full-scale carpets. The original design was created for a pair of carpets that were probably made in Ardebil, Iran, in the mid-16th century and placed in the mosque of Ardebil. Over time and through constant use the carpets were badly damaged and in 1890 were sold to a British carpet dealer. He restored one of them, using parts of the other, and sold it to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. He also managed to salvage a part of the second carpet, which passed through the hands of several wealthy buyers, eventually reaching J. Paul Getty who donated it to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
The Ardebil carpet is significant for its use of the medallion pattern. In the centre is a
circular polylobate medallion set off by 16 radiating ogival medallions prolonged at each end by a mosque lamp and by quarter medallions placed in the spandrels, on a field of finely traced spiral arabesque tendrils surrounded by a cartouche border. At one end of the carpet is an inscription, which the copy in the Tata Collection also bears. This is a couplet by the Persian poet Hafez, followed by the weaver’s signature:
"I have no refuge in the world other than thy threshold
My head has no protection other than this porchway
The work of a slave of the holy place,
Maqsud of Kashan, in the year of 942.