Turkman Now, Part 2, The Pieces Brought In

This is Part 2 of a Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning program that Bob Emry and John Howe



gave on Turkmen research, since about 1980, at The Textile Museum on April 22, 2017.

Part 1 was a lecture that you can view at this link:  https://rjohnhowe.wordpress.com/2017/11/22/turkman-now-part-1-the-lecture/

We will show and describe the pieces Bob and John brought into this session, sometimes relating them to aspects of the lecture.

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T1

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Comment on T1:

Bob:  I brought two mixed technique tent band fragments because the Rageth book had dated some tent bands of this type.

I brought these to show anyone who might not be familiar with such tent bands what they are like.

T1, above, is, I believe, Saryk. It has some elements in magenta silk–for example two triangles in the lower eight-pointed star shown in the detail images. 

Details of T1:

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T23 (numbers are not always sequential)

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Bob:  The second mixed technique tentband fragment, T23, is, I think, Yomut, though it might be Tekke.

I say “Yomut” because most bands I’ve found illustrated with animal images are called Yomut.

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This one also has many small silk elements—the rows of little rectangles, for example, in the image above, and the vertical stripe in the “asmalyk” on the larger camel in the image immediately below.

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T2

This is a Tekke pile rug of a size like those that the Turkmen used as “wedding rugs.” They were just big enough for the couple to stand on.

There were Turkmen wedding rugs, but we don’t know which of the rugs like this were actually used in Turkmen weddings.

This piece is full-pile with what looks likely older traditional Tekke weaving.  The only hesitation about it is that some say that the narrow white borders at the top and bottom are nearly signature indications of Soviet era weaving.

Here are some detail images of T2.

 

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We have asked about this narrow white border in the image below and have been told that the Soviet era border has a “bow tie” shape and is different from this one.  We’re still not sure how to treat the presence of this one.

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T3

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Comment on T3: T3 is a fragment of a Yomud chuval (no lower elem).   Good range of natural color.

Detail images of T3:

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The major gul has a squared outside perimenter.

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On one upper corner of the back, there is a sewn-on tag that reads: “Bokara, Dec. 3, 1910,” and an indication that it was purchased, then, for $15. 🙂  If we see this tag as made by a first purchaser, this is likely a 19th century piece.

T4

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T4 is a Middle Amu Dyra chuval fragment with a great deal of silk.

Details of T4.

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As Bob said in the lecture, his examination of the area with the orangish shade in the image above suggests that this are was wool dyed with cochineal.  The wool in these areas has more plies than does that in others.  This is an age indicator, likely before 1850.

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The opulent use of silk in this piece makes one wonder who would dare to cut it up, but, of course, we know that this happened frequently.

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T5

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T5 is a full-pile Yomut mafrash face with very soft wool.  Its owner says that it is the only Yomut piece he has seen, with an asymmetric knot open left, that has no other “eagle group features ( Troost  is said to have published some others).  David Reuben’s study of Yomut weavings with asymmetric knots suggests that this is a rare piece.

Damaged hanging cords still attached.

Details of T5.

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T6

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T6 is one face of a Middle Amu Dyra saddle bag (khorjin).  The Turkmen wove many chuvals, torbas, and even a number of small mafrash bags, but not many saddle bags.

This piece has a deceptively simple design.  One sees new features in it as one continues to look.

Details of T6.

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T7

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T7 is a nine-gul Amu Dyra chuval face.  It is a classic instance of what Poullada calls “Kizil Ayak.”  Both Pinner and Azadi have, with it in hand, estimated it before 1850.

Details of T7.

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Notice in the major gul, in the image above, that the Xs are serifed.  This is the kind of feature likely to be dropped as designs become conventionalized.  Noticing these serifs is the kind of thing that make others call some of us “Turkomainiacs.”

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T8

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T8 is a fragment of a Tekke chuval.  Someone cut this piece to use it as the seat cover for a chair (note the notches for the chair’s legs).  The current owner found it no longer part of a chair, put a back on it, and has used it as the cover for a bed-side table.

Details of T8.

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The weaving is fine and of a high quality. The drawing is precise. The owner thinks it has some age.  

Here are two looks at its back.  

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T9

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T9 is a Yomut saddle cover (the type that would be placed on top of the saddle, with the pommel (horn) sticking through the slit at the bottom.

Details of T9.

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It has a dark purple and a blue shading toward green.

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T10

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T10 is a large, seriously fragmented Middle Amu Dyra chuval with an “ikat” field design.  It is professionally mounted on a blue backing cloth.

The ground red is in places of the “glows from within” type, but there is also a band of ground red in the top of the field that is a different, faded shade.

Here are some details of T10.

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The owner thinks that the spacious, drawing of the major gul (below) seems an archaic usage.  The use of blue in the center is also effective.  The character and crisp drawing of the borders, in the image above, also seem possibly older.

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The cluster of “minor” guls (below) has graphic punch.

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We think this piece is older, but can’t point to anything excepting, perhaps, the gul and border drawing, to support that estimate.

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T11

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T11 is a large fragment of an Middle Amu Dyra main carpet.  We think this piece is older, in part, because of its narrow borders.  It owner says that he has only seen two other similar examples.  It has been published.

Notice that the ground color within the compartmentalized areas seems almost random, except for a diagonal sequence (left to right) of dark ground compartments and a right to left sequence of white ground compartments.  These diagonals cross in the approximate middle of this rug.  Bob noted that the red-ground squares are also in diagonal lines (lower left to upper right) and that the white also forms lines lower left to upper right—i.e., the white forms diagonal lines in both directions.

Details of T11.

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Notice in the image below that this piece has very bright orange wefts.

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Notice the “tuning fork” border that separate all of the compartments.

The pile on this fragment is very worn down and the bright orange wefts show through on the front in some areas of the white ground compartments.  

This piece was purchased already sewn onto a tan backing and there is clear transfer of red to this backing in a number of places. We think this piece is old, but don’t have a ready explanation about why, what would need to be a natural red, transfers to this backing.

T12

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T12 is an fragment of a Middle Amu Dyra chuval.  Its major guls are about as tall and they are wide and are “stacked” on a pretty spacious field.  Looks similar to one Eli Ali Poullada example (below) that we saw in the lecture.

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But a quick look at structure disabuses us of that possibility.  T12  has an asymmetric open right knot and a kpsi far below 300, at about 60, a frequent “Ersari” count. Looks can be deceiving.

Details of T12.

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Notice the plastic side selvedges. 🙂

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T13

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T13 is a Yomut main carpet with major “tauk naska” guls and a white ground meander border.

Below is another overall photo that is a little closer and maybe better

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Here are two details of T13.

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Notice, especially in the photo below, that the drawing of the “tauk naska” devices retain the “combs” on the heads.  This is the kind of detail that would likely be left out in later conventionalized drawing and may be a sign of age,

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T14

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T14  was mentioned in Part 1.  It is one of very few rugs known in this long narrow format. It might have been made for some special occasion, or for a special person. It has lots of small silk highlights (see the small triangles in the hexagonal gul centers). The main reason for mentioning it in the talk was that it also has multi-ply pile wool dyed with an insect dye (probably Mexican cochineal). 

Details of T14.

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The third picture (below) shows this wool (ground color of the octagons in the diagonal row between the arrows). One of the conclusions in the Rageth book was that pile-wool dyed with cochineal was multi-ply (seemingly commercially spun and dyed wool obtained in small amounts by the weaver), up to about 1850. After that, cochineal dyed pile wool was the same two-ply, homespun wool used for other colors. By the mid 19th century, cochineal had become readily available, and sufficiently inexpensive, that weavers could buy the dye and dye their own two-ply wool. In this rug, the cochineal-dyed wool is multi ply (at least 4-ply, probably more), suggesting that the rug is pre-1850. The insect dye here is mildly corrosive, so that these elements have shorter pile.

 

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T15

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T15 is a torba with unusually good colors. It is also unusual in having only five of the vertical bars (with anchor motifs) in each kepse gul. Seven is the usual number of vertical bars, although in a few rugs each gul has nine.

Detail on T15.

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This torba also shows that the weaver was indecisive about which border design to use.

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T16

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T16 (above) and T17 (below) are Tekke torbas.

The main point is just to show the two main types of Tekke chuval-gul torbas: 12-gul in 3 x 4 format, and 6-gul in 2 x 3 format.

T17

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Another point worth mentioning is that in the 6-gul torba, the animal heads (near the right and left ends of each gul), have two “horns” in most instances, instead of the single one most commonly seen.

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T18

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This one was also on the board but didn’t get mentioned during the talk.  It is a small torba or mafrash with nine chuval-guls, but the main point of interest is that the minor guls are composed of two back-to-back “C” motifs (the motif seen in the “c” gul carpets).  Easier to see in the detail below.

Detail of T18.

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T19

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Bob:  I’ve never been sure of the tribal assignment of the chuval above. The design has staggered rows of chuval guls, with no secondary elements. Most of the guls have silk elements in the hexagonal centers. It has some characteristics of Salor—i.e., borders, especially the connected “S” minor borders, and the knot it asymmetrical open left. If it is not Salor, then it is a mystery.

John:  Is it fine enough (about 300 kpsi) to be Ali Eli?  

Bob:  No, it isn’t especially fine–I haven’t counted knots, but it is probably no more than 150 kpsi.

Detail of T19.

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T20

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The fragment above, T20, is an example of an old Tekke carpet.  It is missing probably 3 rows of guls (the lower border is reattached), so is a fragment.

I think this rug dates from before 1800. It has the old esthetic, and a prominent German collector who saw it agreed that it was most likely 18th century.  The border octagons have short “rays” surrounding them.  At about 30 centimeters wide, the tekke guls here are among the largest you could expect to see.

Here are another, likely better, image of T20, this one in direct sunlight.

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T21

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Bob: T21 is a chuval from the Yomut family.  A collector with a keener sense of observation and a greater level of self-assurance might make a more specific assignment — perhaps Karadashli.  I think it has good age: at least early 19th century.

Detail of T21.

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T22

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As I said, during the talk, this is not an exceptional asmalyk, and it has the design most-commonly seen seen in asmalyks.

I bought it on eBay years ago, because the images posted with the auction listing were sufficiently good to show that it had some cotton in the wefts, and I had just been reading that Yomut carpets with cotton wefting seem to be older than those with all wool wefts.

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The reason I brought it to the talk is that I discovered that it does have small elements of insect-dyed wool knots (probably cochineal), and that this wool is multi-ply. In the detail above the three red elements with six knots each, are dyed with cochineal, and are multi ply.  

One of Rageth’s conclusions is that cochineal dyed wool used in pile is multi-ply up until around 1850 (presumably commercially spun and dyed wool purchased in small amounts by the weaver), and after that time, cochineal-dyed wool is the same two-ply, home-spun wool as that used for the other pile colors.

In this asmalyk, the cochineal-dyed wool is very limited—just to the six small diamonds elements in most of the gul centers—indicated by the arrow in the image below, and a few other small elements mainly in the striped lattice..

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The cotton wefting is also obvious in this same image.

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T23

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T23 shows a carpet that I would have called a Yomut “family” rug with the open spacing characteristic of older rugs.

Then this last spring I saw the catalog of the Austria Auction Company, Fine Antique Oriental Rugs VII (Auction of April 22, 2017). Lot 11 of that auction is a carpet labeled Karadashli, and is so similar to this one that one might believe that they were  made by the same weavers, in the same place at the same time. If you go to this web page http://www.austriaauction.com/index.php?id=222&L=1 and then go to lot 11, you can see the similarity. Both rugs. have features, especially details of the border and minor guls, that I have not seen in other rugs.

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I thought the secondary guls in my rug were unique until I saw the catalog, where they are the same, except that the catalog rug has some extra rectangles interposed between the secondary guls and the main guls.

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The complicated curled leaf borders are the same, even to having the little “tauk nosca” animals in spaces between the curled leaves.

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End borders are also the same in both rugs.

The main tauk nosca guls in both rugs have “rotational” symmetry—that is, if you were to put a pin through the center of the gul and rotate the gul 180 degrees on the pin, it would look identical. If color is taken into account, there is no reflection symmetry.

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This is possible only because these rugs have one of the rarer kinds of tauk nosca guls, wherein the tauk nosca animals in the lower half of the gul are upside down, and those in the upper half of the gul are right-side up.

It is much more common to see tauk nosca guls in which all of the animals are right side up, and rotational symmetry is not possible. The major guls in T13 above (repeated here) are of this latter sort.  

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In these more-common rugs, even reflection symmetry is not possible if color is considered.

Bob treated the “kepse” gul seriously in his lecture and we ended with one.

T24

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Comment on T24:  In the evolution of kepse gul carpets mentioned in the talk, this would fit with the earlier ones with only kepse guls.  Here the guls with white elements are organized into the 2-1-2-1 format.  The overall arrangement is diagonal in the following pattern: a diagonal row (upper left to lower right) of guls that are all alike (same color and pattern), followed by a row having guls that alternate, ones with white and other all of the same color and pattern, then repeat.   There is some minor confusion of this pattern at the beginning  (bottom) of the field.

Details of T24.

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Bob and John took questions and brought their program to a close.

I want to thank Bob for working with me both to fashion and give both the actual session at the Textile Museum and subsequently these two virtual version posts.

We hope that you have found some useful things in this brief picture of where we see Turkmen research now.

Here at the end we want to recognize the work of Jurg Rageth (here with his wife Ester),

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who has produced two monumental volumes that we think, most will agree, will be the standard treatment of Turkmen pile weaving for the foreseeable future.

These volumes were produced in very limited numbers in German and English and we think are sold out.

Most will know that Jurg died, recently, at a young age.  In a last act of generosity to the textile world he made an electronic copy of these two volumes available worldwide without cost.

You can find them here:

http://www.turkmencarpets.ch/

Regards,

R. John Howe

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