It is known that in the late 19th century Tekke carpets constituted the main mass of Turkoman rugs at the markets of Central Asia and Europe. This situation is demonstrated in the examples of Dudin's collection: being an admirer of Pendeh (Salor and Saryq) products, Dudin still acquired only 23 of these (State Museum of Ethnography Collection), while the Tekke items number 37, thus showing the great predominance of Tekke rugs at the bazaars of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Merv which Dudin visited in 1900-1902.
In an early period the Tekkes were an organized conglomerate of different groups of diverse origin. However, by the 18th century they were a monolithic enough tribe that in that period it was possible to recognize, at least in carpet weaving, two distinctly large subdivisions: Akhal and Merv Tekkes. The Akhals preserved more of the traditional characteristics of ancient carpet weaving, while the Merv Tekkes experienced a strong Salor influence and thus adopted such specific Salor features as knot depression and a great repertoire of designs.
Tekke pile weaving is noted for the great variety of items: main carpets, rugs, namazlyks, different sizes of tent bags, and decorations. Especially rich was the wedding caravan's outfitting -- five-sided camel trappings (asmalyks), breast plates (khalyks), knee decorations (dizlyks), belts, and some others. Occasionally one can find special paired rugs for covering the skylight of the yurt and U-shaped rugs to surround the hearth. Tekkes often used door hangings, ensis and kapunuks of different forms, or thresholds, such as germetches. These items are known mostly by specialists, while the tribe's international fame was achieved for their floor rugs and carpets, (khali)
. Dudin wrote about the Tekkes as follows:
"In some places, to satisfy the increasing demand, they weave carpets all day long. Sometimes this work is done by one employer, who engages the weavers and orders the carpets not only of definite size, but of definite pattern. Still more often carpets are made in the intervals in between the everyday housework of Tekke women. The fame which Tekke carpets achieved...was gained by them not from any purpose. Actually in evenness of weave, beauty and distinctness of ornamentation -- these being closely connected with the regularity of the yarns' production -- and in the richness of color -- though not many are used to create the patterns -- there are not many carpets which can compete with them not only in Central Asia."
11. Cover: TEKKE Turkoman, ASMALYK
| Design : Bird,|
Warp: Wool, ivory, Z2S
Weft : Camelhair, Z2S, fine, two shoots
Knot: Wool, Asymmetric, open right; 52/1 count: 10 horizontal (39), 15 vertical (58), 150 per square inch (2,262 dm2); 52/2 count: 10 horizontal (39), 17 vertical (67), 170 per square inch (2,616 dm2),
Colors: Pink red, orange-red, brown, dark blue, green-blue, white; natural dyes
Sides: Two warps overcast with red wool
Ends: Upper: White flatweave folded over to the back and sewn down; Lower: Same. Ornamental braid with dark blue fringe at the edges sewn on the sides and lower end,
Purchased: 1901, Merv, "asmalyk Turkoman, pile, woolen, with representation of birds, decorated with ornamented woven stripe with a fringe at the sides and lower end, 2 pieces"
Published: First color publication of No. 26-52/2. Others: Tsareva, Rugs, pl. 44 (No. 26-52/1 color); Tsareva, Hali 7/3 1985, p. 18 (No. 26-52/1 color); Pinner/Franses, Turkoman Studies, p. 115 (Nos. 26-52/1 and 2 black/white) and p. 258, pl. VI (No. 26-52/1); Felkersam, plate 20 (No. 26-52/2 black/white)
12. TEKKE Turkoman, TORBA
| Design: Nine Gul with Arrow Chemche |
Warp: Wool, white, Z2S,fine
Weft: Wool, brown, Z2S, slightly spun, slightly plied, very fine, two shoots
Knot: Wool and cotton, Z2S; asymmetric, open right; count: 14 horizontal (55), 37 vertical (146), 518 per square inch (8,030); pile looks down
Colors: Bright red, orange-red, light crimson, yellow, dark brown, light brown, dark blue, blue, turquoise, white (cotton); natural dyes
Sides: Red wool plait on two cables of warps, front and back sides sewn together; red and blue plait sewn on the edge, finishes with braid at the upper end and with a tassel at the lower end; the lower part of the front and back sides overcast with pink and green silk plait
Ends: Upper: light blue and red flatweave folded over to the back and sewn dow; Lower: green at the bottom, further white flatweave forms the back of the bag, multicolored fringe on 4 warps near the pile
Purchased: 1901, Merv, "Mafrach, Tekke"
Published: Tsareva, Rugs, pl. 54; Tsareva Hali 1/3 1985, p. 19
Coming back to our superb torba and looking at its fine condition, one must not think that it is a late piece. Turkomans preserved their best rugs and bags for hundreds of years. Dudin wrote about it:
"ln none of any other items of housekeeping will you find better durability and better ability for long endurance. Pile textiles in this respect not only surpass all other textiles, but nearly all other materials including metals... besides they were seen as a kind of accumulated capital... they were collected and preserved as having an immutable value, giving cosiness to the furniture of the yurt and at the same time evidence of the prosperity of the owner."
Three other unique and, at the same time, very characteristic pieces of this tribe's production are pentagonal asmalyks: one pair has a "running bird" design, No. 11; a second pair has a "bird on a perch" design, No. 15; and a third has the "animal/tree" design, No. 13.16 Dudin's two pairs of bird asmalyks in the Museum of Ethnography Collection are the only known pairs of these weavings. The running bird shows one of the earliest variants of this pattern and is notable for the harmonious, powerful, spacious composition and "gilded" coloring.
13. TEKKE Turkoman, ASMALYK
Warp: Wool, ivory, mixed with brown, Z2S
Warp: Wool, light brown, Z2S, very fine, two shoots
Knot: Wool, Z2S; asymmetric, open right; count: 11 horizontal (43), 17 vertical (67), 187 per square inch (2,881 dm2),
Colors: Cherry red, orange-red, olive brown, dark blue, green-blue, ivory; natural colors
Sides: Two warps plaited with red wool
Ends: Upper: Red and ivory flatweave, folded over to the back and sewn down, blue and orange plaits sewn on at three corners, 24" long (62 cm); Lower: Ivory flatweave folded over to the back and sewn down; at the edge of the lower end and sides sewn on ornamented woven plait, with dark blue fringe 5" long (12 cm) plaited into the edge.
Purchased: Given to SH by Dudin's widow in 1937
Published: Tsareva, Rugs, pl. 45; Pinner/Franses, Turkoman Studies, p. 122, No. 233
14. TEKKE Turkoman, KAPUNUK
| Design: Curled Leaf |
Warp: Wool, ivory, Z2S
Weft: Wool, brown mixed with gray, Z2S, slightly twisted, two shoots
Knot: Wool and silk, Z2S; asymmetric, open right; count: 12 horizontal (48), 21 vertical (108), 324 per square inch (5,184 dm2)
Colors: Violet- red, bright red, pink (silk), orange, yellow, brown, dark blue, blue, green-blue, ivory; natural dyes
Sides : Two warps overcast with dark blue and green wool; blue and red plait sewn to upper corners
Ends: Upper: red and white flatweave folded over to the back and sewn down; Lower: Similar to upper; multicolored fringe on 4 warps near the pile 12" long (30 cm)
Purchased: Samarkand, "kapunnuk, door surround, pile, woolen, decorated with fringe at the lower end... Turkomans"
Published: Tsareva, Rugs, pp. 37- 38
1. Bowl, 2. Stamen/Sepal, 3. Blossom Perch, 4. Hexagonal Trunk, 5. Roots, 6. Split Beak, t. Necklace, 8. Animal, 9. Bud/Stem, 10. Wedge Leaf, 11. Base
Description by George W. O'Bannon from And Now, A Bird Asmalyk," Vol. 8/4
15. TEKKE Turkoman, ASMALYK
|Design: Bird |
Warp: Wool, ivory, Z2S
Weft : Camelhair, Z2S, 2 shoots
Knot: Wool, Z2S; asymmetric, open right; count: 197 per square inch (3,053 dm2)
Colors: Dark red, bright red, orange-red, brown, blue, sky blue, white; natural dyes
Sides: Red wool overcast around 3 warps
Ends: Upper: White flatweave, folded over on back and sewn down; Lower: white flatweave, folded over on back and sewn down; woven ornamented band with 4" (10 cm) blue fringe, sewn on lower end and edges
Purchased: Tsareva, Rugs, pl. 43 (No. 26-53/1 black/white); Pinner/Franses, Turkoman Studies, p. 118 (Nos. 26-53/1 and2 black/white), p. 258 (No. 26-53/2 color)
There was another animal/tree asmalyk in Dudin's collection, which belonged to the Museum of Ethnography. In the 1930s it was handed over, together with a Salor ensi and some other pieces, to the Ashkabad Museum of Fine Arts, and its subsequent fate is unknown. It is very possible that the five-sided asmalyk published by A. Felkersam in his previously cited work was actually that piece, as Felkersam used some of the Museum's objects in his publication.
In discussing the Salor group, I referred to the Tekke kapunuk No. 14 with ovdon gyra or curled leaf pattern. It seems that this pattern was the most popular one for decorating door surrounds among the tribes of the former Salor division. Besides the curled leaf, I have only seen the aksu and ak nagysh pattern on kapunuks and mafrashes; both patterns are more characteristic for mafrashes
This was the territory where the Yomuds, another large Turkoman tribe, lived and this was what Dudin saw after he crossed the Caspian Sea: the land on which Turkomans lived for hundreds of years, which created the world of the Turkoman rug.
Dudin could not study Yomud carpet weaving at this place at the time of the year. He arrived as the tribe was migrating to summer pastures, and there was no opportunity to follow them. The only source of rugs were the bazaars of Samarkand and Merv, neither very rich in Yomud production. So Dudin's impressions of this group is illustrated only by what was available in the Ferghana Valley.
"Yomud carpets are rarely met at the markets in comparison to Merv or Akhal Tekkes; most are small pieces, often camel trappings for weddings, asmalyks, mafrashes, ensis, kapunuks and lastly the runners, yolami.
"In coloring, mainly by common tint and decoration, all articles usually called Yomud can be divided into several groups. They include products of the Goklan, Chodor, Ogurjali and so on, and undoubtedly it would be possible to find distinctive features at least for the most typical objects of these groups if there were a richer variety of material, at least partly more or less correctly dated."
These two citations from Dudin's article are evidence of the state of knowledge of Yomud carpet weaving at the eve of the century. Dudin, like most scholars, could not visit the Yomuds, had no real information on the nature of their weaving, nor their trade contacts with Iran and the Caucasus. In reality the Yomuds produced a great number of carpets, mostly in large dimension, for sale. But their markets were not Samarkand or Bukhara, but the trade centers of the Caucasus and Transcaucasus. It is known, for example, that it was a question of prestige for Azerbaijanis to have Turkoman -- or as they were called "velvet" -- carpets in the dowry.
16. YOMUD Turkoman, TORBA
|Design: Three by three Juval Guls |
Warp: Wool, brown mixed with ivory, Z2S, fine, slightly depressed
Weft: Wool, dark brown, Z2S, extremely fine, two shoots
Knot: Wool, Z2S, Z3S (violet-brown and blue); symmetric; count: 10 horizontal (40), 18-20 vertical (72-78), 180-200 per square inch (2,880-3, 120)
Colors: Violet-red, bright red, violet-brown, dark brown, dark blue, blue, green-blue, white; natural dyes
Sides: Two warps plaited by violet-red wool, sewn together with the back, the stitch covered by green and violet plait, ending at the top with a band and at the bottom with a tassel at the bottom finished in blue and red plaiting
Ends: Upper: red flatweave folded over to back and sewn down; Lower: Gray-white with red stripe flatweave forms the back; multicolored fringe on 4 warps near the pile 1l" long (28 cm)
Purchased: 1901, Merv, "mafrach, Tekke, woolen, pile, with fringe"
Published: First publication, cf. Homer, Christie's 147, 4/89
Of the Chodors, he bought two carpet fragments and the upper part of a kapunuk, No. 17.17 It is interesting that designs of the torbas and kapunuks represented in the collection have one characteristic feature which is also traditional for the whole range of Turkomans patterns. This is alaja outlines for the contour of the central part of the ovdan gyra figures. Analogous outlines can be found in torbas and kapunuks decorated with octagons with fantastic creatures in the center;18 this range can be continued with similar outlines of Ersari gul-i-guls. Such elements, being of secondary significance, show the existence of a common ornamental stratus for all these tribes and groups.
"The regions arranged down the middle section of the Amu Darya, which formed until the 1920s the Kerki and Charshangu vilayets of the Bukhara Khanate, were the main production centers of the Bukhara carpet market in l9th - early 20th century. The population of these regions at the present time is mostly Turkoman and belongs to different subdivisions of the Ersari, Salor and other tribes. It represents in itself a very complicated ethnic formation, including along with relatively new peoples the remnants of ancient aboriginal groups of this territory."
The predominant mass of the common Turkoman population now calls itself Ersari. This tribe has inhabited the middle Amu Darya from the beginning of the early l8th century. The tribe consists of four main clans: Kara, Bekaul, Ulug-Tepe, and Gunash. Their distribution over the region can be traced in detail only from the late 1920s. In 1929, the first two clans, Kara and Bekaul, lived mainly in Charjui. Some groups of the Kara clan concentrated in the north of Mekan village and in the southern border of Turkmenia in the village of Charshangu. Most of the Ulug-Tepe and Gunash clans lived in and around Kerki and only one group, Chakyr of the Gunash clan, and two subdivisions of Ulug-Tepe (Ajen and Karaja) inhabited the Charjui region, being separated from their tribes. Ulug-Tepe, the most numerous clan, occupied the Halaj, Kizil Ayak, and Kelif regions. Some members of the Gunash clan lived among them in many of the villages.
All these clans produced carpets. The Kizil Ayaks were believed to be the best weavers. This group belonged to the Ersari tribe as early as the 17th century, but ethnographically they differed greatly from the Ersari and had many common features with Tekkes. According to the words of their elders, they related themselves to Merv Tekkes. It is impossible to find historical confirmation, but there are many common elements in both costume and headgear of Kizil Ayak and Tekke Turkomans.
Besides the Ersari, there were numerous other groups living on the territory of the Amu Darya which were engaged in carpet weaving. These were Salors (Kizil Ayak and Khojambas regions), Sakars (former Charshangu region), Karkins (Halaj region), Kanitch (Kelif region), Atchars (Sayat region), and Olams (central area of the former Kerki region -- Khojambas, Kizil Ayak, and others).
The materials of General A. A. Bogolubov, dealing with the tribal situation in the Kerki region in the late 19th century, mention some subdivisions of the Kanich clan and Dali among the carpet weavers. Later the expedition of 1929, in which V.G. Moshkova took part, encountered representatives of the Karkin and Kamach (perhaps Moshkova's equivalent of Kanich) only at the border with Afghanistan. Quite numerous among them were Salors, who were certainly relatives of the Serakhs Salors and had the same subdivisions: Yalavach and Karaman. Apparently the Amu Darya Salors represent a group which detached themselves from the main tribe in its migration west of the Amu Darya. The origin of another small group is different and not sufficiently clear. The Sakars, for example, considered themselves to be relatives of the Saryqs.
Some of these groups denied not only their affiliation to the Ersari but even their Turkoman origin. One of such rather large groups were the Olams or Kuroma Olams, who lived closely together in several contiguous villages in the Khojambas region. The Olams were divided into clans. Some of them attributed themselves entirely to other peoples, while others to Olam, Mukry, and Khatab peoples. At the same time, some separated groups of Olams lived in the Kizil Ayak and Tashrabad regions. The ethnic origin of the Olams is not clear. According to one researcher, they are connected with Yomuds; according to another, with the Ersari; while the third one says they represent an individual group and do not belong to Turkomans but originate from the ancient Iranian tribes of Alans.
The Alans in the past inhabited the northern part of Khorezm, moved in the first centuries A.D. to the Urals, and later migrated to the middle Amu Darya where they mixed, in the course of centuries, with various groups of the local population.19 Ethnographically, they differ greatly from the surrounding Turkomans and the same is true of their carpet ornamentation.
The great number of groups, some of them having definite ancient traditions of carpet weaving, seemed to display a great variety of ornamentation and styles of weaving. The reality, however, was even more complicated than one could suppose. The main occupation of Amu Darya Turkomans was sheep breeding combined with agriculture. This gave them enormous quantities of wool for carpet weaving. Wool of the local sheep was extremely fine and elastic. Carpet weaving in this territory was not only of a domestic nature but also commercial. It is obvious that the production of rugs for sale existed here long before the Ersaris arrived. Only in this way can one explain the ease with which the Ersaris adapted their carpet weaving to commercial production. Later, beginning in the 1870s and until World War I, practically all the southwestern territories of the Transcaspian province became involved in making carpets for sale, especially in the former Kerki and Charjui regions.20 From 1914 to 1925 carpet weaving survived a period of hard depression in this territory after which it never returned to full volume. Hence, in Beshir, rugs were woven only by some families. According to evidence from elders all the carpet weaving population of the Khojambas region migrated to Afghanistan and to the Surkhan Darya Province of Uzbekistan. It seems that the Kanich group migrated entirely from the Beshir region and thus production of rugs of the Beshir type was stopped completely.
Some departures from the canon of traditional Turkoman carpet weaving were caused by demands of the market. The chaos provoked by the migration of different tribes and clans to other territories and countries resulted in a situation where it was extremely difficult to identify the differences between the style of rugs produced by various clans and groups. Moshkova wrote:
"Studying Amu Darya carpet weaving of the postrevolutionary period, the researcher encountered the complete impossibility of collecting the necessary information, as the population of the whole series of regions changed completely. Especially great were the changes in the Beshir and Kizil Ayak regions.21
Still the image of the Ersari carpet as a whole is so distinct that one practically never makes a mistake attributing pieces of this group. So, Dudin's attributions, for example, agree with modern ones. This, in comparison with other tribes, demonstrates some specific features. Dudin singled out five groups of Ersari rugs: Kerki, Beshir and Kizil Ayak (Collection 26), Uzbek-Beshir and Uzbek-Kizil Ayak (Collection 37). (See Part IV). In reality his collection is much richer and shows greater variety in the Amu Darya production.
From 39 pile objects representing Ersari weaving, I've chosen five pieces typical of Beshir, Charshangu, and Kizil Ayak types and one item belonging to Amu Darya Uzbeks which differ greatly from Samarkand and Nurata Uzbek production. As the carpet weaving of this large tribe is less studied and there are more "open" questions than with other groups, I shall speak about the peculiarities of Ersari carpet weaving in more detail.
Moshkova noted very precisely the distinguishing features of the Beshir rug type:
"The typical artistic peculiarity of the Beshir rug is the absence of a common color for both ground and pattern in contrast to all other Turkoman rugs. The ground in Beshir carpets is never neutral in color. It contrasts sharply with and is almost never used in the pattern.22
19. ERSARI- CHARSHANGU Turkoman, TORBA
| Design: Abrov (like silk, probably meaning from an ikat textile pattern)|
Warp: Wool, ivory mixed with brown, Z2S
Weft: Wool, red, Z2S, two shoots
Knot: Wool, Z2S, extremely silky wool; asymmetric, open right; count: 58 per square inch (899 dm2)
Colors: Cherry red, orange, yellow, Light brown, dark blue, blue, green, ivory; natural dyes Sides: Three warps overcast with orange wool
Ends: Upper: Red with two motley plaits flatweave folded over to the back and sewn down; Lower: Red flatweave folded over to the back and sewn down; multicolored fringe on 3 warps 7" (18 cm)
Purchased: 1901, Samarkand, "mafrach pile, Kizil Ayak, woolen, with fringe"
Published: Tsareva, Hali, 7/3 1985, p. 23
Beshir rugs were produced not only in the village itself but also in the villages of Burdalyk, Chakyr, Khojambas, Halaj, and Mekan. The majority of the population in these places were composed of Salors and Olams with Ersaris being the smallest in number. The Salors, known as the best carpet weavers in the history of Turkmenia, did not influence the craft greatly. On the contrary, they adopted the ancient local traditions and followed them completely. It is possible that these rich and original traditions belonged to the Olams and other groups of the ancient local population.23 It is known from Chinese written sources, for example, that long before the time the Turkomans formed as a people the Amu Darya population already had a rich carpet weaving tradition and produced many rugs for sale, exporting them to other territories and to China also. They mention the region of Nakhsheb (Karshi) and, possibly, Beshir.24
l7 see Tschebull, R., "Chodor Carpets with the Tauk Nuska Gol and a Related Example," Hali, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 91-94.
l8 see Mackie/Thompson, Turkmen, p. 138; Dzumaniyazova, op. cit.
l9 Bakhtiyarov, A., "Remains of Vanished Alans," Turkmanovedenie, 1930, No. 8-9, p. 29 (in Russian); Matsusevich, L.A., "Alan Problem," Sovetskaya Ethnografiya, Collected Studies VI-VII, 1947 (in Russian).
20 I have information that not only women but men took part in weaving rugs in these districts. This shows the advanced development of the craft's commercialization.
2l Moshkova, op. cit. , p. 193 (Oriental Rug Review III/1, p. 2). 22 Ibid., P. 223 (ORR III/2, p. 11).
23 The tribal structure of the Salors shows that there are some groups of different origin included in the Salor tribe. So, among Karamans, the largest clan of the Salors, we find Olams and Arabachi; among Yalovatch, Dalis and Sakars.
24 In the history of the T'ang dynasty (7th century A.D.), we find the following: "In the possession of Bo-Tsi-Sy (borders in the west with Na-She-Bo) the inhabitants weave silk and wool textiles and multicolored carpets." Na-She-Bo, or Nakhsheb, is identified with Karshi, to the southwest of which is situated the ancient town of Beshir, which can be identified, both through location and spelling, with Bo-Tsi-Sy. See Bitchurin, I., "Collection of Knowledge about the Peoples Inhabiting Central Asia in Ancient Times," M. L., 1950, PP-316, 317; Moshkova, V.G., loc. cit., p. 11.