Qashqa'i, dated 1327 A.H./1909 (210 x 98 cm) The tree of life is an ancient motif of Iranian art with a history stretching back to prehistorical times. It was especially popular with the Sasanids and may be seen on many of their articles and fabrics. The placement of a lion beneath the Tree of Life is also fairly often encountered in Sasanid art. In this rug a lion or camel is placed in the shade of each branch.
The simurgh is depicted in Iranian art as a winged creature in the shape of a bird, gigantic enough to carry off an elephant or a whale. It appears as a kind of peacock with the head of a dog and the claws of a lion; sometimes however also with a human face. The simurgh is inherently benevolent and unambiguously female. This giant birdlike creature is so old that it has seen the world destroyed three times over, and thus possesses the knowledge of all the ages.