Archive for January, 2019

“Potpourri” by David Zahirpour

Posted in Uncategorized on January 20, 2019 by rjohn

On January 12, David Zahirpour 

*

*

gave a “potpourri” program here at The Textile Museum, in Washington, D.C. 

David is a long-time dealer and active member of the DC area textile community.  He knows his rugs, and is often a Textile Museum resource on textile repair demonstrations, since his is a skilled textile and oriental rug restorer.  He also has the only total immersion rug washing facility in the Washington, DC area.

David said that his own take on “potpourri” would be that all the pieces he had brought were bags or parts of one.   He said that the weavers of these pieces were migrants and moved from place to place.  Wool was plentiful to folks who were largely shepherds.  Bags could hold things and were not breakable. He said that it seems likely that such pieces were made for the weaver’s own use that that she would select the best materials and lavish her skill on them.  Such things made bags interesting and, often, they could be quite beautiful.

He began with a large, mixed technique Tekke Turkmen chuval.

D1

*

*

The skirt is pile as are narrow bands above it.  This piece is very fine and the literature says that impression in the areas of narrow bands is, in part, because they have only one shoot of weft between rows of knots.

David says it is likely that the orange in this piece is from synthetic dyes but that he is not allergic to them, if they seem to be of the stable “carbon” variety, and do not, noticeably, run or fade rapidly.  He estimates it 1920-30.  He said that he’s not sure that the blue-red ground, in the tapestry areas, is from cochineal.

Details of D1.

*

*

*

*

*

The next piece was a large, complete Bakhtiari chuval, with mixed technique

D2

*

*

The field area of the front is sumak.  The “bottom” of both halves of this chuval are done in pile.  This is to permit them to tolerate abrasion and so extend the useful life of the chuval.

*

*

This piece has an unusual and interesting back.

*

*

*

Opie wonders why a weaver would invest this much creativity and care in the back of a textile that will not be seen much.

*

*

You can see in the image above, that the closure system is one of slits and loops.  This is seen to be a Persian attribution indicator.

*

*

The next piece was a small, complete, Shahsavan khorjin.  Again notice the slit and loop closure system.

D3

*

*

The two faces of this piece are in reverse sumak.  In reverse sumak, Marla Mallett says, the “normal front and back faces are reversed”…but that this term describes the front-side appearance of the structure, and does not indicate the side of the fabric from which it was worked.

Reverse sumak is very sturdy and tough.  It will take a lot of wear.

Here is a detail of the plain weave, back of this small khorjin.

*

*

D4

*

*

D4 is a complete half of a Shahsavan khorjin. Sumak.  Good drawing and color.  David said that although complete khorjins are found, half khorjins and khorjin faces are more usual.  The white ground border frames nicely.  This border is seen on some Turkmen textiles.

Details of D4.

*

*

*

*

The next piece is a sumak side panel from a small cargo-type mafrash.  A complete piece of this type would have a back panel of this same size and shape and two end panels that would be smaller and squarer.

Good drawing and excellent color.  

*D5

*

*

Notice that this side panel has borders all around it.  Many Shahsavan mafrash bags have designs that are basically horizontal stripe arrays that continue all around on both ends and the other side panel.  Mafrash side panels with borders all around are preferred by collectors. Mafrashes with a side panel with borders all around often have three other panels without designs.

Here is this panel turned to let you see a slightly larger version of it.

*

*

Details of D6.

*

*

*

*

The piece below is a Bakhtiari salt bag. (This is, likely, the back.  I’ll show you the “front” shortly.)  It is done in brocade with some twining visible.

D7

*

*

David explained the the top narrower mouth the bag extended so that when salt was in it, it would flop over and down, close the opening, and preserve the salt.

Here is a large detail of the, likely, more decorated front of this salt bag.  Again, mostly in brocade with some tapestry striping.  David estimated it as 1920-30.

*

*

Note that there is a narrow band of pile along the lower edge of this bag, a Bakhtiari usage we saw above.

*

*

Details of D7.

*

*

*

*

The next piece was a complete khorjin opened up.

D8

*

*

It was folded and held together to show what it looked like when sewn up.

*

*

Here is the front side when together.  I have also turned it to give you a large image of it.  The faces are done in sumak with a plain weave back and area with the slits.

*

*

Next was another complete khorjin opened up.  This one was Qashqa’i with some visible synthetic dyes.  The faces are pile and the backs are plain weave edged with pile.

D9

*

*

Here is how this complete khorjin looks put together.

*

*

Details of D8.

*

*

*

*

The next piece was a Yomut Turkmen spoon bag. Pile with edge decorations.

D10

*

*

Such spoon bags are woven with the warps parallel to the short sides.

The small piece below is a complete Qashqa’i school bag.  Done in tapestry decorated with brocade.

*

D11

*

*

Details of D11.

*

*

*

The back of D11 is less interesting but has a different design.

*

 

*

*

Next was the very nice Turkmen pile piece below. (click on the image)  David says it has an asymmetric knot open left and a fineness of 225 knots per square inch.  It has a velvety handle.

D12

*

*

David described it as a Salor chuval, woven in the 19th century, in Char Juy on the Amu Darya River in Turkmenistan.  The modern name of this town seems to be Turkmenabat.  The literature now indicates that there were a great many tribes along the Amu Darya and that the Salor were visible among them.

Here is a map that shows Turkmenabat on the right center. (click on this map to get a larger image)

*

*

This piece deserves a closer look.  Here are some details of it.

*

*

This bag has a lot more color in it than you see at first.  There are several reds, one of which looks to be from cochineal.  There is a strong green, a white, and what seems a black. 

If the cochineal is real and on wool, rather than silk, we should check to see if the pile threads have more than two plies.  Jurg Rageth found that the dying with cochineal on wool, with more than two plies, faded out about 1850, so its presence is a pretty clear age indicator.

*

*

Sometimes you can see colors better on the back.  Here, below, is a large detail of the back of this piece.

*

There is some ridging of warps in the detail below, indicating some warp depression, something you would expect with a Salor weaving.

*

*

All in all a very nice piece.

The next piece was Baluch in a format we do not see frequently: a rifle cover.  Done in pile with some flatweave varieties at both ends.  Lots of tassels.

D13

*

*

Details of D13.

The image, below, is of the top where the rifle is inserted.

*

*

*

*

The piece below was a small, complete, miniature, half khorjin.  Pile face with hanging cords at the top corners.  Probably Tekke about 1910.

D14

*

*

Detail of D14.

*

*

*

David said that the next, interesting, small, pile, Yomut, Turkman, bag: same design on both sides, could have been used in a variety of ways, but one likely one would be as a koran cover. 

Someone has said that this piece is most likely a pair of camel knee decorations that have been sewn together.  David has checked the selveges and says they seem to be original, but agrees that knee decoration indication is probably correct.

D15

*

*

The next piece was an unusual set of bag in more than one way.  David said that it was a Quashqa’i bag set with long connecting panels that fit over the head in a way like Anatolia heybes do.

D16

*

*

Here is a Turkish child wearing a heybe

*

*

The faces of this Qashqa’i bag set are woven with areas of plain weave interspersed with those of long pile.   These areas of pile are arranged in vertical rows and terminate at the bottom in similar tassels that hang down below the bottom edge of the bag.

The colors seem chosen for dramatic and graphic effect.  Some synthetic dyes seem certain.

*

*

The connecting “shoulder straps” are done in weft-faced, tapestry with a zigzag design.  Notice the long “slit’ for the head.

*

*

I had seen lots of Anatolian heybes worn, with the head through slit, and the bags handing front and back, but I had not see a similar Persian example.

The next piece was a tall and relatively narrow Baluch mostly pile piece.   There was comment in the room that it had the shape of a Baluch balischt, but David said a balischt is a pillow and this seemed to him to be a bag.

D17

*

*

It has a back in mostly slit tapestry but also some brocade.  Here is a detail of this back.

*

*

Notice that both the top and the bottom have flatwoven decorations but are different.

*

*

Additional details of D17.

*

*

*

Some pieces had been brought in and we dealt with them next.

The first of these was a Heriz in a scatter carpet size.  It has nice, fresh Heriz colors and a “plant in vase” field design.

Heriz rugs are woven in far NW Iran about 50 miles east of Tabriz.  They are woven with symmetric knots and longer pile.  Edwards says that Heriz weavers can do something he has not seen other weavers do.  They can look a a scrap of a curvilinear design (often something from nearby Tabriz) and weave a version of it that is rectilinear.

D18

*

*

Detail of the back of D18.

*

*

The next piece was described by its owner, at David’s question, as a Caucasian bag.  David examined it closely, saying that the side selveges are not original.  He called attention to an unusual red and the edges of the central medallion.  He agreed that it is Caucasian.

D19

*

*

It has this back that might seem a little incongruous but which is woven on warps that continue, from the front pile face, without interruption.

*

*

The next piece was a nice Veramin bag face.  David liked it a lot.  Good drawing and colors.  A great many groups moved through the Veramin area and so lots of influences are visible.  Someone wrote that even some Tekke Turkmen were seen.

D19

*

*

(click on the image above to get a larger version)

 

Some has suggested that this panel is not that of a torba-like envelope bag but rather the front panel of a cargo-type mafrash bag.  David agrees.

*

*

Details of D19.

*

*

*

*

Its owner said that the next piece was a Saryk torba.  It is well drawn and, as is often the case with darker pieces, has a wider range of color than one initially thinks (there are several reds and a striking blue).

D20

*

*

(click on the image above to get a larger version)

It did not have some classic Turkmen Saryk features, like a symmetric knot and cotton whites.  But there were Saryk weavers in Afghanistan.

Below is a detail of a map Schurmann supplies in his “Central Asian Rugs” which shows Saryks in Turkmenistan and Afghanistan in the Pendeh area.

*

*

(click on the image above)

I had thought the the major gul form seemed less that typically Saryk, but Jourdan shows a 19th century Saryk torba with precisely this same gul (p. 87, item 29) as well as the rectangular blocks below and above it.  So this piece may well be a late 19th century Saryk weaving.

*

*

*

Next was a small Caucasian mostly slit tapestery Shrvan kilim, with nice fresh colors.  David liked its small size that would make it easier to display variously.

D21

*

*

Details of D21.

*

*

*

*

David had suggested that one test for the kinds of things we should bring to this potpourri RTAM would be pieces that we had not been able to part with.  I tried to follow this rule.

A first piece that I brought was the “penny rug” below.

D22

*

*

I have written about this piece and others like it,before, on Turkotek, in early 2004.  It might be best just to give you the link:

http://www.turkotek.com/salon_00104/s104t2.htm

One caution about making a post like this one on Turkotek.  At the point that I wrote it, I had seen a few other penny rugs, but owned only this one.  But, quickly, after making this Turkotek post, I began to get contacts by groups making penny rugs, asking me to come and speak to them.  I had to confess that I had only one and was not at all an expert.

Today, while writing this, I looked around the web and found this treatment that may provide some additional information.

https://pennyrugsandmore.blogspot.com/2017/02/a-history-of-penny-and-sewn-rugs.html

Enough about penny rugs,

A second piece I bought was this flat-woven Baluch strip that my wife bought in Berkeley, CA over 20 years ago.

*

*

Here is an end detail of the back.  You can see that it’s a strip of mostly sumak, folded over and sewn down on the sides.

A first question is what is it? It’s clearly taken from something but a lot of people have looked at it and we have not had certain answers.

*

*

A second question is about the design.  We have not seen it before.

*

*

David proposed an answer to the first question.  He said that he was certain that this was a center connecting strip from a Baluch khorjin.  The two bags hung down from it.

He agreed that the design is unusual.

The last piece of the day was an instance of my discovering I was mistaken about something I thought I had researched successfully long ago.  The piece in question was this small weaving.  Flat-woven mostly in sumak with some plain weave.  It has good crisp drawing and fresh colors.

*

*

I’ve owned this piece for over 25 years and, as I say, I thought I had researched it.  It seemed to me likely an item of Kurdish weaving from northeast Iran, Kurasan, about which Wilfried Stanzer had written the book “Kordi.”

In his book shows the piece below that seems very similar to mine. 

*

*

He describes this piece as a “Kordi Tobreh Posti.”I had read somewhere (I thought perhaps in Stanzer’s book) that “poshti” was sometimes translated as “small rug,” 

When I said that to David before our session began, he immediately said that my piece was part of a bag.  This turned me around because I thought I had researched it. 

So after this session I went back to confirm my research and the results have been humbling. 

First, “poshti” is nowhere translated as “little rug.”  The seeming preferred translation is “back.” 

Next, I turned to Stanzer to see what he said and he also sees “poshti” as part of a bag.  In his description of the piece above he uses the terms “Kordi Tobreh  Poshti.”  He says that a tobreh poshti could be part of a khorjin, and he shows khorjins similar to the two pieces above.  Here is one with the same side borders.

*

*

But he says a “tobreh poshti” is more likely to be a “small shoulder bag for provisions and utensils.”

It has taken me at least 25 years but maybe, finally, I’ve got something right about my little Kordi piece.

*

*

Thank you, David.

Stanzer ventures that “the palette, the clear and accurate design and the structure of (ed. his similar piece above) are typical of the Lain area.”  He gives a good map that shows Lain to be on the far eastern side of north Kurasan, near what was once the USSR border.

I probably should not tempt things with a geographic speculation.

David answered questions and brought his session to a close.

*

*

I want to thank David for preparing and giving this useful potpourri program.  David also worked with me, after, to fashion this virtual version.  I also had excellent help from other experienced folks who want to be anonymous.

Sometimes not a lot of structure is needed to put on a program that is both entertaining and that results in real learning.  I can testify in this case.

I hope you have enjoyed, even learned a little from this RTAM.

‘Til next time,

R. John Howe

 

 

 

Mehmet Yalcin and John Howe on Central Asia Textiles and Some Others

Posted in Uncategorized on January 11, 2019 by rjohn

Dear folks –

On December 1, 2018, Mehmet Yalcin,

*

*

and John Howe

*

*

gave a Rug and Textile Appreciation program that centered on Central Asian textiles, but included some others.

Mehmet says that he was born a Turkish nomad. 

*

*

He has had an interesting life that included wide international travel, work in different international organizations, a Harvard doctorate, and his current ownership, now for 23 of years, of two textile-artifact shops, Woven History & Silk Road, here, on Capital Hill, in Washington, D.C.

John (that’s me) is a long-time textile collector.  I am active in the DC textile community, especially in the documentation of these Textile Museum Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning (RTAM) programs.  I am very interested in textiles, and try to get things right, but would never claim to have done so.  The urge to authority can get in the way of enjoyment.

I said, at the beginning of this session, that the RTAM programs are named in honor of the late Harold Keshishian, an important DC area dealer,

*

*

who may have been most important among those who founded them.  RTAM programs have traditionally drawn on local textile dealers as important resources. 

I approached Mehmet about giving this program with me as a continuation of this tradition of drawing on dealer resources.

Our program began with a series of “Central Asian” textiles made in western Mongolia.

In a broader map,

*

*

Mongolia seems embedded in the northern part of China.

But looking at the map below, we see that a small uncolored finger of Mongolia, on the right, reaches out to the green of Kazakhstan.

*

*

And this is significant because the far western district of Mongolia, in the map below, has a population that is 80% Kazakh.

*

*

And this is where the first set of “Central Asian” pieces we treated, were and, are, made.

Mehmet made a further argument that the conventional notion of “Central Asia” is too restricted, and that a proper view of it, defensibly, includes both Mongolia on the east and the Caucasus on the west.

This first set of textiles we treated in this session is a series of hangings made by Kazakhs in western Mongolia.

*

S11

(image identifying numbers will, often, not be sequential)

*

*

(If you click on most of these images, you will get a larger version)

These hangings are hand silk embroidery on a cotton ground.  They usually have a border on three sides, quilted cotton or velvet.

Here is a closer detail of the piece above.

*

S11a

*

*

These silk embroidered are hangings that nomadic Kazakhs hung on the walls of their yurts.

*

*

*

*

Below is a Kazakh yurt (the Mongolians say “ger”). There is still a significant number of Kazakhs who are pastoral nomads, although their numbers are declining.

*

*

Below are some Monglians erecting a Mongolian type yurt (ger) (note the steeper roof angle.).

*

*

Mehmet, and a young Mongolian, employee of his, Solar,

from this western district, feel that nomadism is attractive and, counter to the conventional wisdom about nomadism, in many parts of the world, they feel that the number of nomads in Mongolia may be increasing.

Solar says that he and his grandmother were nomads, with only a flock of about 100 sheep. He says that nomadic life if full of lots of spare time (in which, for example, textiles can be made)  During the winter, when he moved to town to go to school, she hired herders to look after her sheep.  He says that barter is a frequent form of exchange in western Mongolia, although money is now more frequent.  He also estimates that someone, who undertakes nomadism in western Mongolia, will have a difficult time at first, but will be, predictably, successful in about five years.

There are signs that most folks who are “nomads” in Mongolia, are not of the “free-standing” sort we often celebrate in our descriptions, but rather herdsmen employed by rich folks who own most of the sheep and other livestock.

*

*

Still there are persistent traces of nomadism.  Kazakhs, and others, have been reluctant to give up their yurts even when they settle.  Yurts frequently appear between other structures in Mongolian cities.  They also ring the outer edges of cities.

*

*

(Below is a Getty image and caption that gives a less optimistic view of this situation.)

ULAANBAATAR, MONGOLIA – 2012/07/26: Ulaanbaatar’s ger districts are populated mostly by displaced nomads who have moved to the city in search of economic opportunities.
Mongolian pastoral herders make up one of the world’s largest remaining nomadic cultures. For millennia they have lived on the steppes, grazing their livestock on the lush grasslands. But today, their traditional way of life is at risk on multiple fronts. Alongside a rapidly changing economic landscape, climate change and desertification are also threatening nomadic life, killing both herds and grazing land. Due to severe winters and poor pasture, many thousands of herders have traded in their centuries-old way of life for employment in mining towns and urban areas. The ger (yurt) camps that ring the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, house a permanent population of displaced nomads. There, they live without running water or a tangible use for the skills and crafts that were practiced on the steppes. The younger generation is no longer learning these essential aspects of their nomadic heritage. (Photo by Taylor Weidman/LightRocket via Getty Images)

*

But let’s go back to these Kazakh tent hangings.  We do think that it is likely that they were made, mostly, by Kazakh pastoral nomads.  Once folks come into cities they tend to (need to) take jobs.  Jobs take up the time that nomad life provided for making such textiles.

*

M1

*

*

The pieces we are showing were made in the mid-20th century and some are inscribed and dated. 

The “rondel” designs look Chinese and may sometimes be, but the fabric below is Central Asian, woven not embroidered.  But it indicates that rondel designs have appeared in Central Asian textiles since at least the 7th-9th centuries.

*

*

The Silk Roads were a real thing and lots of things flowed back and forth along them.

These hangings are silk hand embroidered on cotton, with a quilted edge on three sides also of cotton or velvet.  The embroidery is mostly in chain stitch.

*

*

Below is a second of these hangings. Notice that these hangings have unfinished bottoms.  It is said that the Kazakh makers do this for hangings made for a couple and that the unfinished bottom is to suggest that their marriage be one of unending happiness.  They are often made by the bride’s grandmother, or passed from mother to daughter, and even, sometimes, made by the bride herself, as part of her trousseau.

S13

*

*

The designs in the outer areas of this one, seem similar to Kyrgyz felt designs.

*

*

The design in the center panel is very different, but we’re not sure of its source.

S13a

*

*

The next hanging (S14) has a paler palette.

S14

*

*

It seems older. Its designs are elaborate.

S14a

*

*

The next hanging features some of the seeming Kyrgyz, felt-sourced designs, and a centered area, the designs of which are distinctive, but of the same scale.

S16

*

*

Details of S16.

S16a

*

*

The next hanging has a darker palette.  It hangs in a conspicuous place in Mehmet’s shop.  He thinks well of it.

S36

*

*

It has a good range of color.

S36a

*

*

Next, is another Kazakh tent hanging that Mehmet displays prominently.

S39

*

*

*

One of the most elaborate designs.

With S17 we move to a hanging with a five-star rondel design.

S17

*

*

It is also a departure from the designs above in that it features birds and flower forms in it center area.

S17a

*

*

One more of these Kazakh tent hangings.

S19

*

*

More seeming Kyrgyz felt design influence.

S19a

*

*

On last hanging image is of a fragment from one.  This piece has only two rows of flower forms.

*

*

A closer look in a different orientation.

*

*

With S18 we moved to what Mehamet sees as a Kyrgyz “suzani.”  Note the surrounding border and distinctive, flower-based rondels.

S18

*

*

This piece is inscribed and dated 1959.

S18a

*

*

Another detail of its right side.

S18b

*

*

Another hanging,  Uzbek. Applique.  Some of the applique squares are Russian printed cotton.

S15

*

*

S21 is another applique that is younger: the seeming ikat borders are printed.  Needlework in the diamond applique areas.

*

S21

*

*

Another view of S21

*

*

S20 seemed quite different.

S20

*

Mehmet says that it’s an Kyrgyz panel.  The dark ground was woven first and then embroidered.  The designs do not resemble most used by the Kyrgyz.

But below is an older Central Asian embroidery, 11th to 13th century.

*

*

 

And the Russians really liked flower designs in their printed cottons.  Here is a modern version based on traditional Russian patterns.

*

*

So S20 above may be plausibly Kyrgyz.

Mehmet had several textiles he describes as “Lakai.”  The small piece below is, I think, the best of them.

*

*’

Mehmet thinks this is not a village piece, not meant for the urban market.

Here are two details of it.  It seems, also, to have been done using chain stitch.

*

*

*

The next piece is dramatic.  Mehmet calls it a “bokche.” Again embroidered.

S1

*

*

S1 is an unusually elaborate bokche.  Turkman bokches are envelope bags that look like this.

*

Image result for Central Asian Bokche images

*

But Mehmet sees the piece below as a Lakai version of this kind of cover.

S1

*

*

We often encounter this latter variety of bokche as V-shaped pieces like those below.  The literature calls these V-shaped pieces “segusha.”

*

Below is another, larger version of these V-shaped pieces.

*

*

Sometimes, the area above the V is filled in with black cloth, but in the case of S1, that area is richly embroidered.

S1

*

*

One more comment about this latter type of bokche/segusha.  It is also used to decorate the “juk” in a nomad tent.  Most will know that the juk is a pile of the family’s valued textiles that is placed in a place of honor opposite the tent door. The top (and widest) part of this bokche/segusha would be tucked in toward the top of the juk stack and hang down the front of it.

Mehmet next showed some other small Central Asian textiles.  They are used as tent decorations or even used by women on the sides of their heads.

S6 

*

*

Here is one up close.  There is lots of wrapping and use of tassels, including beads.

S2

*

S3 is another Lakai hanging.  It’s worn but is older and has good color and drawing.

S3

*

*

The next piece was a small embroidiered cover.

S4

*

*

An experienced person said afterward about S4: “Embroidery is from Afghanistan, Katawaz, a Pashtun tribe.  Typical example: fine work and funny colors.”

The next piece was also small. Mehmet said about it “… a Uzbek girl’s dowry purse, which is very finely done and it is silk. I remember picking it up in a dark, dusty, small Afghan Uzbek dealer’s shop in Peshawar in 2006. I know it is old, maybe from the 1930’s. It’s a beautiful piece.” 

*

S27

*

*

Details of S27.

*

*

*

The next piece was less refined.

S23

*

*

An experienced person said after that S23 is a “typical Kurgrat embroidery.”

S45

*

*

An experienced person said about S45 “This is Hazara, from Central Afghanistan (as opposed to the Hazara district of Pakistan that also produces embroidery).  (I’m) not an expert on Hazara embroidery, but in Afghanistan, things like this were often placed on top of the tray of tea pots, cups, snacks when served to guests.”

Below is another piece of Uzbek embroidery, about which we can say no more than that.

*

*

There were some dresses and coats.  The first S8 below.

S8

*

*

Mehmet described this dress as Afghan “gypsy.”

The next is a Turkman coat that is relatively simple on the outside, but has a gloriously colorful ikat lining.

*

S55

*

*

The coat below is an embroidered Tekke Turkman chyrpy.  Not a very fancy one but fully embroidered.

S9

*

It has a lining that seems older but that is hard to make out.

S10

*

*

Mehmet wore a black quilted coat. He says that “It is a traditional Uzbek Chopan from Tashkent. The outside is silk, inside is Russian cotton material.”

*

*

Here are two images of the inside of Mehmet’s coat.  Notice that the rectangular quilting is visible on the inside and that there are two kinds of printed cotton, one simulating ikat.

*

*

Closer.

*

*

John had the coat, below, in the room, but did not wear it.  It was made here from material that is cotton and silk ground and contemporary Uzbek hand embroidery with an Ottoman pattern.  He was not alert enough to order a Russian printed cotton lining and so the one it has a solid tan.

*

*

S26

*

*

Mehmet says that this is a Turkman purse with silk embroidery.

There were some hats.

*

*

*

Let’s look at some of them more closely.

S28

*

*

Mehmet says that S28 is a Turkman wedding hat for a man.

S29

Mehmet says that S29 is an Afghan “gypsy” hat.  Metal, conch shell decorations.

S30 is an off topic hat.  It’s Tibetan and ends in a near scarf. Mehmet says that it is “a traditional Tibetan hat worn in Ladakh, Zanzskar and elsewhere in the eastern Himalayas in India.”

S30

*

The next hat was entirely beaded.  Mehmet says that he “picked this hat from an Afghan Uzbek dealer in Peshawar, Pakistan in 2007. I was told it was a Turkmen wedding hat.”

*

Mehmet had some Turkman pile pieces.

The first of these were some complete miniature Tekke khorjins.  These three pieces are in perfect condition and the technical quality of the weaving is very high.  Mehmet thinks they may have been used as Koran bags.  I estimate them at about 1910, on the basis of their knot ratio, which approaches 1/2.  Mehmet thinks they’re older.

S31

*

*

S32

*

*

Animal forms (see the top of both pile fronts) are unusual in Turkman pile weaving.

*

*

They are nice pieces.  Don’t see many like them.

S35

*

*

Comment:  S35 is a Turkman pile torba with an ikat field design from the Middle Amu Dyra (formerly often called “Ersari”).  20th century.

*

The word “carpets” crept into the announced title of this session so we had to produce a few.

If you collect on a budget, as I do, your older pieces are often fragments

*

*

The first carpet is from the Middle Amu Dyra area.  We think it could be quite old.  The narrow borders are one indicator and I know of only to others with this design.  It has the brightest orange warps (which look natural) I have ever seen. It was published in the catalog for ICOC 10.  There is one caution about a late date: this piece came to me mounted on a tan backing and there is some transfer of red to that backing that I can’t explain if this piece is old.

H1

*

A second carpet is this dilapidated but classic Chodor fragment.

*

*

Again, there are narrow borders.

*

*

And lots of cotton showing on the back.

*

*

And there are vertical, S-design, connecting panels between the diamond forms, the latter, composed of triangles. These S-tabs seem to be overlapping the diamonds and can be read as a 3-d effect..

*

I will offer this piece to the Textile Museum as a study piece.

A third carpet fragment is the Kizil Ayak piece below.  Again, there are narrow borders, used both as a main border but also used to form compartments.  This narrow border is the same one used in the Middle Amu Dyra main carpet fragment above.

*

 

*

This piece is so faint that it doesn’t get much wall time.  Note that there are animal forms in all the quarters of the major guls and that they, invariably, are standing upright and face one another (this is a directional rendition).  And the minor guls in the center of the field are split by the main border usage that forms the compartments.  I like compartmented designs and so forgive them for this aesthetic, desecration of the minor gul.  Noting such features is one of the things that results in our being called “Turkomaniacs.”

*

*

Another carpet fragment, I bought via the internet from a flea market in Jordan with the help of Filiberto Boncompagi, one of the technical manager on Turkotek.com

It has dark warps, Caucasian-like borders, and interesting gul forms.  The consensus is that it’s Uzbek.

*

*

I sent it to Melissa Keshishian for mounting and she demonstrated how one can use a background color close to the field color of a rug to disguise the fact that it has two holes in it.

The next piece was, in fact, a large Middle Amu Dyra Turkman chuval, large and heavy enough to use on the floor. It is likely 19th century

H2

*

^

It has an ikat design similar to Mehment’s torba, that you say earlier.

*

*

The piece below is a smaller Yomut chuval that I have also sometimes used as a throw rug.

H3

*

*

It has a good green in some of its guls.

*

*

Sometimes when you’re collecting on a budget, you’re reduced to a mere strip of a main carpet and here is one. This is a lateral strip (not complete) from a Tekke Turkman main carpet.  I feel confident that it’s 19th century.

*

*

Most of the carpets I have on the floor, in our apartment, are from Chris Walter’s non-profit “Ersari Project” production.  Hand woven by Afghan Turkmen refugees in Pakistan.

*

Chris Walter (on right) and friends in Haripur Refugee Camp

Hand carded and spun. Woven with natural dyed wools. Traditional Turkman designs and colors.  The weavers are paid and any additional proceeds are used to finance schools for Turkmen children.  Chris and his Afghan partner have been doing this since 1988.  Here is more information on this part of Chris’ non-profit efforts.

https://www.yayla.com/rug/rug_page/ersari_about

The rugs I have from Chris’ production are all from the Haripur refugee camp in Pakistan.  Nowadays, the “Ersari” production has been moved to Afghanistan.

The scatter rug below is one of the first I bought from Chris.

*

A17

*

When I first saw it, I thought might have been a somewhat conventionalized version of an Afghan “gul-i-gul” but found a near example in Jourdan (see 234 on page 234) attributed to the late 19th century.  I like the big, blocky border that seems to me like the proportions of some early Woven Legends throw rugs. 

Notice that this rug is inscribed (as many of Chris’ Turkmen pieces are) in its lower right corner.

*

A17a

*

I can’t read it, precisely, but I know what it says.  “Turkmen Refugee Molla Ashir, Camp Haripour, 1373″ (Afghan Calendar), that’s 1995, 23 years old.

Sometimes I have asked Chris to make me a special order rug, often a copy of something I like.  Here is one example.

A few years ago the Chicago dealer and collector. Joe Fell, gave a TM presentation and showed this Middle Amu Dyra bag face. 

*

*

I took a photo of it and made an 8″x10″ inch and sent it to Chris and asked him to copy it for me.

Now copying a rug is a challenging undertaking. 

Think of the progressive kindergarten story where one child whispers a short story into the ear of the child next to her.  She does that to another child, and that sequence goes on until a number of children have been told the story.  Then we ask the last child to say out loud what the story is.  Invariably, the story told by the last child does not resemble much what the first child told the second one.

Now come to the world of copying a rug.  The customer gives a photo of the desired rug and says what size he wants and any color changes from the photo.  The person who takes the order sends it to Pakistan.  In Pakistan, a cartoon (knot for knot) of the rug in the photo is made.  Then the wools to be used are selected, and the cartoon and the wool to be used, maybe even the photo, are given to the refugee family who is going to weave the custom rug.  They do so and give the rug back for “finishing.”  The finished rug is sent back to the dealer who ordered it. You can see that there is a lot of chance for slippage.  Maybe the carton is made in the wrong size or in the wrong orientation (say turned 90 degrees).  Maybe the person supplying the wool doesn’t have all the colors wanted. Maybe the weaver doesn’t use all the colors prescribed. Etc.

It takes about a year to get a custom rug woven.  When it was ready in this case, Chris shipped it to me.  The image below is what is looked like.  Compare it with the photo I sent.

H4

*

*

You can see that the drawing is pretty good (these weavers can weave this rug), but that the colors used are not what were in the photo.  Some colors have been left out.  The copied rug is not “bad,” but it has been conventionalized and is not really what I wanted.  I confessed to Joe Fell that I had had his bag face copied and he asked me for a photo of the copy.  When I gave it to him he, he liked it enough that he asked if I could get him another copy and I did.  Footnote:  The original ultimately  sold at auction for $17K.  Joe Fell no longer has the original, but he and I both have approximate copies.  🙂

The next rug is another of my special order Ersari Turkmen pieces, but this one has a little longer story that goes with it.

When I first began to collect and study Turkmen rugs I was given permission to work with the Textile Museum curatorial materials and encountered a design that I liked.

*

scan0036

*

There was a photo of it and I had an 8″ x 10″ blowup made and sent it to Chris and said “Make this rug for me, about 3′ x 5′. “

Now it usually takes a year to get a special order rug made, and one day Chris called me and asked whether I could use a rug, in the design I had ordered, that was 13′ x 15′.  Some serious communication problem had occurred and a hugely different size rug had been made.  I said, no, I wanted a 3′ x 5′. 

So another year went by and one day the rug arrived.  It was more like 4′ x 6′ and looked like this.

A32

*

A26

*

In addition to being still a little larger than ordered, the white usage in the gul had been dropped out, BUT I had been given lots of a good green that collectors value. 

*

*

I kept it. 

It is also inscribed in the field.

*

*

It reads: “Turkmen refugee Camp Haripour.” Lower left text reads: “Turkmen.” Lower right text reads “refugee.” Upper left: “Haripour,” and upper right: “Camp.” I couldn’t read the date underneath of it, but I think it is 1388.  That’s 13 years after 1995 and about right.

I want to be clear about these three efforts to copy a given pile piece.  I mean no criticism at all of Chris’ efforts.  I think the difficulties are endemic to such a copying effort.  I read somewhere that it usually takes three attempts to get a decorative rug, woven to order, to be what the customer wants.

The next piece I have from Chris’ production is a Yomut asmalyk format and design, woven by Ersari weavers as a rug, and that’s how I use it.

H5

*

*

This is a contemporary pile copy of the face of a famous Yomut asmalyk design (a “jewelry” type).  The jewelry devices are across the top.

*

*

One antique piece with this design was claimed to be on the market for $60K, in the days when the Oriental Rug Review was being published.

H6

*

*

This is an Afghan Turkman pile saddle cover. Not Chris’ production.  Doesn’t have great age, but they’re not being made any more.  It is included here because I use it as a throw rug.  It’s full pile and pretty tough.  It has strong graphics that include a yellow that I think is natural.

If you collect on a budget and find yourself often with fragments, you begin to make pillows. 

And I had brought some.

*

*

The pillow below is from a large fragment of a large, Afghan, Middle Amu Dyra Turkman carpet, with a gulli-gul.

*

H7

*

The next pillow is from the same carpet but focuses on the minor device (notice that there is also a “tertiary” device).

*

H8

*

The pillow below is from a 19th century, Tekke main carpet, with an unusual use of green.

*

*

A final pillow is from one end of a Middle Amu Dyra rug with a mina khani design and what seems to me to be an archaic end border.

*

*

This is the end border that seems to me to be archaic, although I confess that I don’t know, concretely, what that means.

*

*

The last Turkman carpet I want to talk about is another special order from Chris Walter.  This time I had seen that he was making a mina khani design and also the dark ground border in H10 below.  I asked him to make me a 6’x 8′ version of this rug with this dark border and the most saturated red ground in the field that he could manage.

And he did it.

H10

*

*

It is a special order rug that turned out to be precisely what I ordered and wanted.  I look at it every day.

Here are some closer details of it.

*

*

*

*

*

Having discharge my obligation to produce some Central Asian carpets, I felt freed to show a fairly recent Central Asian purchase that is, I think, unusual.

*

*

This is a bag that is not woven. It is, instead, plaited.  Marla Mallett, Andy Hale and Seref Ozen helped me with its attribution as Uzbek.  Below is a closer detail of it.

*

*

I was attracted to it, in part, because for about five years, in the 70s, I was a serious knot tier.

I was told that such bags surfaced in Afghan markets, a while back, but that they were not picked up much because dealers were already having trouble selling things with a lot more color.  I had not seen another before I bought this one from Marla, but, wouldn’t you know it, another surfaced shortly thereafter on rugrabbit.com. 🙂

I quite like it.

Colin England brought a piece that is another instance of copying.  The piece below is from the Black Church in Transylvania.  It is an instance of the famous “coupled-column” design.  It is dated to the mid-17th century.

*

*

The image, below, is a copy of this rug, woven in Azerbaijan in 2018.  Colin said he brought it to show modern production of “Central Asian” carpets that look a lot like Turkish carpets found in the Balkans.  (He said that he agrees with Mehmet that “Central Asia” is often too narrowly defined.  He said he thinks it includes everything east of the Black Sea, except Iran.)

*

*

Designs, Colin said, travel with time.  Actually, not much time is needed.  A weaver can see a very old rug in a museum and often go home and weave it.  Time can get telescoped.

I’ve talked a little too much about Chris Walter’s contemporary Turkman carpet production, because I think the stories about trying to copy antique Turkman pieces are interesting. 

But I want to end by highlighting Mehmet’s contemporary production.

Mehmet has his own production in Turkey, Pakistan and Nepal.  http://wovenhistory.com/ 

Here are a few pieces from this production.  Mehmet says he uses only natural dyes.

First, Mehmet says are some pile rugs done in Afghanistan near Kabul.  “They are woven by a Hazara tribe that we work with.”

*

*

*

If you’re producing rugs for sale, it has been found that pieces that include recognizable devices from the Pazyryk carpet are popular.

*

*

A second set of pile rugs are those Mehmet says “are our Tibetan production pieces, that we produce in Nepal working with Tibetan Refugees.”

*

*

The pile rug above is one of the “folklike” type that have been produced in a number of producer settings.  Woven Legends produced some early, and Afghan “war rugs” have been collected.  This is a Tibetan folklife design. Note that it is inscribed and date.  Such rugs are often attractive to buyers.

*

*

The pile carpet above is a contemporary one with an ancient field design, often referred to as “Chintamani.”  It ‘is probably of Buddhist and Chinese origin,” but “was widely used in Ottoman and Timurid ceramics and weavings from the 15th to the 17th centuries.” (quoting Peter Stone and Mehmet).

A third sector of Mehmet’s product are Anatolian, slit tapestry kilims, woven in the Konya province in Turkey.

*

*

Here is a detail of another kilim with a niche field design.

*

*

Another kilim with good color.

*

*

A detail of the kilim above.

*

*

And another.

*

*

The striped flatweave below is done, mostly, in weft-face tapestry.

S42

*

*

You can see some instances of brocade decoration and maybe even some weft twining.

*

S42a

*

*

With our last piece on Mehmet’s contemporary production, we’re back to slit tapestry.

*

*

We answered questions and brought our program to a close.

*

*

I want to thank Mehmet for working with me to give this RTAM and for his help, and Solar’s, in fashioning this virtual version of it. 

Thanks, too, to my wife Jo Ann, who took photos, and to Mehmet and Solar for additional photography, and other contributions, after.  I had help from some experienced people, who want to be anonymous, but who also have my thanks.

I hope you enjoyed this post as we begin a New Year.

Regards,

R. John Howe