View Full Version : An Ersari (Ali Eli?) chuval with personality

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Rich Larkin
July 9th, 2016, 04:28 AM
Hi Chuck,

Of course, it isn't our fault we can't identify the weavings of the Uch El, or the Adaqli, or the Tivechi, if they wove anything. We could probably do some mischief by planting a statement someplace saying their rugs were indistinguishable from those of the Ali Eli. Seriously, I have no doubt Poullada's work establishes a solid basis for identifying a group of weavings with which the Ali Eli were thoroughly involved. It's just that the rug appreciating community seems regularly to forget that the reality of provenance must be more complicated than our familiar and, in truth, simplistic models; though, as I mentioned, Poullada himself is largely not guilty in these regards in my opinion.

I've mentioned before that I heard Murray Eiland, Jr., M. D., say at the Textile Museum (quite a number of years ago) that he looked everywhere around Central Asia, unsuccessfully, for someone who would admit to being Ersari. He said people whom he asked didn't seem to understand the question. I suspect if many weavers could be clued into the vocabulary we use regulary to analyze and discuss rugs, there would be a good deal of head scratching. Not that it's such a bad thing. :confused:


Chuck Wagner
July 9th, 2016, 03:22 PM

Interesting remark from Eiland, I wouldn't have guessed that from his writings. Dick Parsons lived in Afghanistan for many years and didn't seem to have any trouble finding people who identified as Ersari. His book includes his own version of the clan and sub-clan structure. Even so, I would posit that people would be more inclined to identify at the clan and sub-clan level first, and maybe that's what Eiland encountered ...(just guessing).

The Russians don't seem to have that problem either; there are recent books and articles available online that discuss staffing choices and power sharing in Turkmenistani government structures based on tribal affiliations and inter-tribal rivalry, including passing over one individual (General Akmurad Rejepov) who was Ersari and considered unacceptable to the Ahkal Tekke elders.

It is easy to think that the number of persons who keep any interest in their own tribal affiliations has been dwindling rapidly for decades, thanks in particular to the Soviet Union's shake-n-bake approach to population redistribution.

Nevertheless, your larger point is still taken; there are many things we cannot know - after all, there is no formal written Turkoman historical record. In the meantime we organize by what we do know, or hypothesize, and then engage in interesting discussions... :cheers:

Chuck Wagner

Rich Larkin
July 9th, 2016, 04:24 PM
Hi Chuck,

Your comments about the reported invisibility of the Ersari reflect my own thoughts at the time when I heard Dr. Eiland on the subject. I believe the thing boiled down as you suggest to sub-tribes and clans as having been the more familiar context for his informants. They didn't think of themselves as Ersari, but rather, as XXXX. Also, the occasionally encountered experience in the Middle East of not getting a straight answer to a question may have been a factor. Parsons' extensive experience in Afghanistan probably served him well.


Marla Mallett
July 11th, 2016, 12:08 AM
Iíve just now tuned in to this discussion and have seen the confusion concerning the construction of asymmetrical knots open left or right. David Hunt has pointed out what he sees as a discrepancy between the diagrams in my WOVEN STRUCTURES book and those in Murray Eliandís book.

Actually the constructions illustrated in the two publications are exactly the same. The yarns are wrapped and the knots formed in precisely the same way. Murray has simply drawn his knots with the loose yarn ends pointing upward in an unnatural manner. That can be confusing. Iíve drawn the yarn ends pointing downward as they look to a weaver who must pull them down tightly toward the already woven part of the rug. Thatís the way Tanavoliís are drawn as well.

In any case, as someone has mentioned, the knots should be described as ďopenĒ on the side in which the yarn ends emerge. It is of course necessary to have the rug oriented as it was on the loom when examining the structure.

Marla Mallett

Patrick Weiler
July 13th, 2016, 05:15 AM

You hit the nail on the head with "It is of course necessary to have the rug oriented as it was on the loom when examining the structure." Often what is remaining of a bag face does not include enough to confirm which end was up or down when it was on the loom. Asymmetric open left is asymmetric open right when a piece is turned upside down. The pull of the knot pile can often be the arbiter.

Patrick Weiler

Dinie Gootjes
July 16th, 2016, 02:58 AM
Patrick, I think you can always find the knot collar above the tufts of yarn? Especially clear where two colours meet vertically. That would indicate that you are looking at the rug the right way. I remember one rug where the pile was lying two ways in different parts of the rug. The knot collars made it possible to decide how it was woven, and so what type the knots were.


David R E Hunt
July 17th, 2016, 01:15 AM
Hi Marla

Thanks for helping out us structurally challenged folks : (.

But my issue with this was more at metaphysical. I had somehow seemed to recalled an early discussion,
in one of the old rug books, in which the "open" portion of the terms "Open Left" or "Open Right" referred
to the space or grove in the pile. Thus in "Open Left" the pile emerges on the right side of the knot, and in
"Open Right" the reverse is true. Not to worry, it's just me. I'm confused and a bit out of the loop on this.

Note to self: if you ever do any serious publishing, it's a good idea to have the structural analysis done by
a qualified professional...