Margaret Squires

PhD candidate; Associate Lecturer

Thesis: Crafting Splendour: Safavid Carpets in Architectural Context

Supervisor: Professor Sussan Babaie

Supported by the Hajji Baba Club Research Fellowship (2022–23) and the British Institute of Persian Studies (2023)

Member, Textile Working Group

My research aims to reactivate the study of carpets produced in Iran in the latter half of the Safavid period. Carpets are among the best-known genres of art produced in Iran, studied primarily as dazzling products of highly skilled craftspeople and as charming decoration complementary to any environment. Despite their ubiquity, carpets are largely neglected in scholarship of the arts of Iran and the arts of the Islamic world more broadly. My dissertation proposes new ways of thinking about these carpets by situating them within the architectural contexts for which they were envisioned and made. Considering carpets as site-specific works of art and integral components of architecture reveals the interdependence of the two media and opens up the possibilities of spatial-experiential analyses of the carpets in situ. Though few Safavid carpets survive on the floors of palaces and shrines, historical sources, technical study of now-dispersed carpets, and digital methods can help to reconstitute these sites in their original, carpeted splendour. In turn, this approach can also provide historical grounding for larger groups of carpets previously considered only in relation to one another.

Research Interests

  • Art and architecture of Safavid Iran
  • Carpet weaving and design in early modern Iran, India, and Ottoman lands
  • Histories of the interior
  • Technical analysis of carpets
  • Digital art history


MA, History of Art and Architecture, University of Massachusetts Amherst (2018). Thesis: “The Vanishing Grid: Pattern Construction in the Afshar Collection Animal Carpet”

BA, Middle Eastern Languages and Literatures (Arabic concentration), University of Virginia (2016). Thesis: “Examining Islamic Art in the Museum: North America and the Middle East”

Teaching Experience

Associate Lecturer, “Display as Discourse: Persian Art in London Collections,” The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, UK (Spring 2024 and Autumn 2022)

Guest Lecturer, V&A Academy, “Safavid Carpets and Textiles,” Arts of the Islamic World online course (June 2023)

Teaching Assistant, Foundations of Art History, The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, UK (Autumn 2021)

Lecturer, “Discovering the Arts of Persian Lands,” High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia (Spring 2021)

Teaching Assistant, University of Massachusetts Amherst (August 2017–May 2018)

Museum Experience

Curatorial assistant for Art of the Islamic Worlds, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (June 2018–July 2020)

Graduate curatorial fellow for Art of the Islamic Worlds, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Summer 2017)

Invited Lectures

“Piece by Piece it Disappeared: Reconstructing the Chehel Sotun Carpet,” invited lecture, co-sponsored by the New England Rug Society and The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum, online, 10 February 2024

“The Safavid Fragments from the Shrine of Shah Neʿmatullah Vali,” invited lecture, Hajji Baba Club, New York, NY, USA, 24 October 2023

“Silk, Silver, and Gold: Reassessing ‘Polonaise’ Carpets,” invited lecture, Oriental Rug and Textile Society, London, UK, 17 May 2023

Conference Papers

“Frayed Edges: Approaching the Carpet Fragment in the Museum,” Symposium to Celebrate History of Art and Architecture Professor Walter Denny’s Scholarship in Islamic Art, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 21 October 2023

“Fragmented Histories: A Deccani Carpet in the Chehel Sotun,” Association for the Study of Persianate Societies Biennial Convention, Yerevan, Armenia, 30 May–3 June 2023

“Fragmented Histories: A Deccani Carpet in the Chehel Sotun,” Postgraduate Symposium, The Courtauld Institute of Art, 18­–19 May 2023

Farsh-ha-ye īranī o bāft-e mi‘mārī-ye anhā [Iranian carpets and their architectural textures] (delivered in Persian), One-day Scientific Conference on Safavid Studies, Islamic Azad University UAE Branch, Dubai, 18 April 2023

“From Brick and Mortar to Silk and Silver: Carpeting the ʿAli Qapu Palace,” Historians of Islamic Art Association Biennial Symposium, Houston, Texas, 2–4 March, 2023

“The Vanishing Grid: Pattern Construction in the Afshar Collection Animal Carpet,” Symposia Iranica, St. Andrews, Scotland, April 2019


“From Brick and Mortar to Silk and Silver: Carpeting the ʿAli Qapu Palace,” in Expanding Contexts of Islamic Art (forthcoming 2024), edited by Aimée Froom and Farshid Emami. New York and Leiden: Brill, 2024.

“A new home for Islamic art in Texas” HALI 216 (Summer 2023), 52–59.

“Epic Iran” (exhibition review), HALI 209 (Autumn 2021), 126–27.

“Wine, Coffee, and Tobacco: The Pleasures of Blue-and-White in Safavid Iran,” Arts of Asia vol. 50, issue 5 (September–October 2020).

Eight catalogue entries in Bestowing Beauty: Masterpieces from Persian Lands–Selections from the Hossein Afshar Collection, edited by Aimée Froom. New York: Yale University Press, 2019. 56–57, 102–103, 148–51, 184–85, 200–201, 246–47, 248–51, 272–75.