Max Allen has sent these images in the hope that someone will recognise the subject matter. See his comments and questions below…
This building, as depicted on a number of rugs which have recently come onto the market, looks rather like a medieval fort with turrets and battlements. On one side of its apparently slanted roof are three towers (for the sake of comparison, I have reversed image number two so the towers are on the right, like the others.). In front there is a large, empty and apparently sandy area, behind which there seems to be a terrace leading up to a fence. At the lower left, and often across the middle of the rug, are superimposed “pictures” of the sort found on old tourist postcards. What is this scene, and where did this way of depicting it come from?
Rug 1 (top) woven left end first, knots open left of a peculiar glossy (commercial? Australian?) wool, fine mixed tan wool warps on one level, edges overcast with black wool.
Rug 2 (middle) woven left end first, knots open left of coarse dry wool, board-like handle (like a Bidjar), very thick white wool warps on one level, edges overcast with red wool.
Rug 3 (bottom) woven right end first, knots open left of fine dry wool, fine white wool warps aternately slightly depressed, edges overcast with black wool.
Feedback: Kevin Sudeith (at warrug.com) solves the question on his own blog – it’s the citadel in Herat built by Alexander of Macedonia in the 4th century B.C. Kevin provides contemporary photographs for comparison…
And Max finds these fantastic photographs by Robert Lankenau; the first is a detail to correspond to the rug images. Max observes that the rugs may well be the result of a proto-cubist re-arrangement of all the features of the citadel and its surrounds.