Prayer rug, 18th century; Mughal Probably Kashmir, India Wool pile on cotton and silk foundation. Paradise in Islam is described as a walled garden filled with flowers and cypress trees. Depictions of paradise in Islamic art often include a colorful garden of flowers sheltered by an arched gateway symbolic of the entrance to heaven. This artistic metaphor appears on textiles, architectural tile panels, and other objects, but is an especially appropriate decorative motif for prayer rugs. It is a visual reminder of the pleasures of paradise awaiting the faithful who pray. Flowers burst forth from a single vase in the field of this carpet and fill a curved niche defined by flanking cypress trees and floral spandrels. The extremely fine weave of this pashmina wool prayer rug, with approximately 700 knots per square inch, gives it a luxurious, velvetlike appearance. This mille-fleurs type of prayer rug was produced in Mughal India and later copied by weavers in southern Persia.
(via Carpets from the Islamic World ::Islamic Arts and Architecture)