Cabinets Chamber

Cabinets are pieces of furniture with very specific characteristics, which are associated with safes and writing desks. These pieces of furniture were also used as safes, where the most important personal possessions, such as jewellery, gold and the most valuable documents were kept. Some had lateral rings that facilitated transportation during journeys.

Salting Rugs In September 2007, two Specialists in Islamic rugs (Michael Franses and John Mills) identified three ‘Salting’ carpets in the Ducal Palace. Their presence in Portugal happened after a Parisian Antiques Collector, Armand Deroyan, had told them he recognised the carpets when he visited Guimarães some years previously. The ‘Saltings’ are currently among the most expensive and desired carpets by Collectors from all over the world. These pieces are the largest set to be documented outside of the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul.

These rugs were acquired, among a number of other objects, in the context of a Restructuring Programme of the Palace by the Department of Monuments – The Commission for the Acquisition of Furniture – in the late 1950’s. All three of the carpets were bought from the prominent Mrs. Perez, a Textile Dealer in London, who had previously been involved in the sale of important rugs from Portuguese Collections to the International Market.

The designation ‘Salting’ derives from the name of the famous Australian Art Collector, George Salting (1835-1909), the same Collector who, in 1909, donated a particularly emblematic piece to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

The volume of the intertwining structure, created through the warp, weft and knots, determines the level of detail that the Weaver can achieve. Fibres with a smaller diameter facilitate the execution of the more complex patterns; this is the reason why in carpets of high quality, the silk thread is frequently used in the warp, weft and knots. The horizontal and vertical lines are easily executed in the octagonal net created by the warp and weft in the loom, unlike what happens when curvilinear motifs are required. In that case, a greater density of knots is necessary (more than 3500 knots per dm2) to avoid ‘squared’ effects, which justifies the frequent use of silk fibres in the warp (and at times in the weft) in rugs made of wool.

The rugs found in the Palace of Dukes of Bragança represent the most important discovery in Portugal since 1911, when José de Figueiredo found the magnificent carpet of ‘animals and trees’ in the Convento da Madre de Deus, in Xabregas and is now considered the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the Textile Collection in the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga. The intense investigation being pursued in the study and conservation of the three ‘Salting’ carpets has guaranteed its preservation for future generations. After finally having their previous status of important objects of the Islamic Art, restored, the carpets are worthy of respect and admiration as National Treasures.