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-   -   Ensi were door curtain (http://www.turkotek.com/VB37/showthread.php?t=4701)

Alain Bueno March 18th, 2018 01:18 PM

Ensi were door curtain
Another proof ensi were door curtain. Look at the "rings" used to hang the rug.



Steve Price March 18th, 2018 01:30 PM

Hi Alain

Those loops are for hanging the piece, but not necessarily over a doorway. They also look like they were added after the piece was taken off the loom, although it's hard to tell from the photos.


Steve Price

Marvin Amstey March 18th, 2018 01:59 PM

I have had such pieces, Steve, and the braided loops were original to the piece. If, in fact, they were there originally to hang the ensi as a tent flap, I do not know.

Steve Price March 18th, 2018 05:46 PM

Hi Marvin

I've seen Turkmen pieces with braided rope sewn on (I have a few), and I'm sure I've seen some that were on them when they came off the loom. I can't tell from the photo which this one is, and I don't think it matters very much. That was an afterthought - the main point is that the existence of those ropes isn't evidence that it hung in front of a doorframe.

Steve Price

Patrick Weiler March 19th, 2018 06:21 AM

There are small flatweave textiles about 2'x4' or so that were used as either cradles or cradle covers by SW Persian tribes. Some retain hanging loops or what is left of them. They weren't used as tent door covers, but there are pictures of them used as cradles. Here is one from a NERS article:
By Frederik Barth.
Pictorial evidence is rare of ensis being used in situ, though a couple of etchings and photos show what may be "rugs" covering yurt entrances. Most of the pieces we have are rather short for an entrance, unless one stooped very, very low to enter.
However, it is not unusual for doors to be quite short for the purpose of defense. I have seen doors about the height of ensis in some Russian buildings of a couple hundred years of age. The idea was that someone entering would be stooped over and defenseless.
The most common assumption of today is that the vast majority of extant ensis were woven not for local use, but for sale once the railroads arrived in the late 19th century, opening markets for "tribal" goods to be shipped to metropolitan areas - exactly what occurred in the SW US with Navajo weavings around the same time frame.

Patrick Weiler

Alain Bueno March 19th, 2018 11:09 AM

Ensi were door curtain
A curtain doesn't go necessarily to the floor. The yurt door was open and the ensi was unrolled from the top to decorate the entrance.

Steve Price March 19th, 2018 12:03 PM

Two things to remember about doorway heights and ensi lengths:
1. Turkmen people before the 20th century were probably much shorter than the typical person in the developed world today. In fact, most people were.
2. In addition to the widespread belief that ensis were doorway covers, there's a nearly equally widespread belief that the germetch covered the lower part of the doorway. I'm very skeptical about that one, since the few specimens that still have their fringe would have had a total height of nearly 3 feet, but it's worth mention.

Steve Price

Martin Andersen March 20th, 2018 09:05 AM

Hi Steve and All

Its interesting subject wether or not the Ensis were door covers, I suppose we will never know for sure. I have looked into to into from time to time, and personally I think they were, probably only for special occasions, not everyday use.

Moskova describes the function and format sizes of the Ensi and the Germech, describing the Germech to be less in width than the Ensi, fitting the width within the door frame. Personally I see no reason not to trust her in this, and the famous Prokudin-Gorsky photos support her description. Regarding sources on information on the function on almost any Turkmen weaving type this is (unfortunately) as good as it gets. And isn't any other function of the Ensi kind of based on pure speculation? (not that I mind speculations, you know :))

Looking at the photo taken by Prokudin-Gorsky around 1900 and the proportions of door and rug showing a known rather square type of late Tekke Ensi which surely wouldn't have been able to cover the door to the ground. There is easily, if not necesarrely, space for a Germech below it.

(I have made the red fields a bit less square here to compensate for the perspective in the photo, but I suppose you get my point)

I only have one possible Germech with fringes in my photo archive, its size is 30 x 86 cm, less than two feet in hight including fringes. And a format like that would actually make sense at the Prokudin-Gorsky yurt door.


And Steve I am curious what other candidates for Germechs with fringes you have seen? They are often smaller in size than they appear in photos. When I remember I try to save all Germechs I see on the net, so I would be happy if you could post the ones with fringes you have seen, it is an interesting subject.


Martin Andersen March 20th, 2018 10:14 AM

I would love to see a higher resolution version of this photo. I suppose it is a Tekke yurt. Either it is a pile of rubbish in front of the door (not a very practical placement), or it could be a bit of rubbish to the right in the doorway - and a stick with a textile covering the lover part of the door, as the Germech is supposed to have.


Well hard to tell, but an interesting reason to keep on looking at russian postcards :)


Steve Price March 20th, 2018 01:10 PM

Hi Martin

The best I can give you is to refer you to a letter in HALI (issue #99, p. 51, 1998) that refers back to a photo of a germetch with long fringe in an earlier issue - I don't recall whether the photo is reproduced on the page with the letter. Like the one you reproduced (and like nearly all fringed Turkmen pieces), the fringes have become greatly reduced in length, but we can assume that the longest one remaining is at least the original length of the rest.

Also, I think the dimensions you gave for the one in your archive only refers to the woven part and doesn't include the fringe. I put a ruler on my monitor to get rough proportions, and they match your figures if the fringe is ignored but are way off if it's included. If the width is 86 cm, the height is about 3 feet. That may even be the one referred to in the HALI letter.

Steve Price

Rich Larkin March 20th, 2018 01:30 PM

Hi Martin,

Excellent! I had not been aware of the Produkin-Gorsky photo. Who came up with the inset photo of the ensi that seems to match the yurt example rather closely? The treatment of the bird heads/candelabra in the center seems atypical enough to make the inset example a pretty good find for a researcher.

I find it somewhat surprising that the documentation of this use of the ensi (and other items) has proven to be as elusive as it has, given the relatively small gap of time between the period of 'full' tribal custom and the commencement of serious research into whole subject of utilitarian weaving among Turkoman peoples. One would think there were enough surviving subjects for interview by the time the Moshkovas, et al, had come along, that the point could have been pinned down confidently.

It seems clear that some time in the latter part of the 19th century, the idea took hold at least among some Turkoman weavers that the ensi might be a winner in the marketplace, giving rise to an explosion of production. (I have a couple myself!) It is often said that the 'really old' ones had design features like the one posted by Alain at the beginning of this thread, including well-spaced bird head figures relatively few in number that alternate in offset from one horizontal row to another, and certain size and proportion characteristics. On the other hand, the later ones, presumably woven for sale/export in most cases, had more static designs with more detail packed into the whole scheme. It is interesting to note that the yurt photographed by Produkin-Gorsky features one from the latter period of production, diligently fulfilling its duty right up there on the yurt! Is it possible that photo op was staged by the Tekke Marketing Department!?!

Martin Andersen March 20th, 2018 04:28 PM

Hi Rich

It’s my impression that Prokudin-Gorsky for his time was a rather sober photographer, not heavily staging and romanticizing as some earlier photographers, to me it looks like he was simply trying to make a record of the different cultures of the Russian empire. But his photos are of course not photojournalism as we would see its today, and the photos are staged in the sense that his technique with 3 different glass plates for each photo (producing the fantastic colors) required his subjects to stand still for a rather long time.

If he was hijacked by the Tekke marketing department I would suspect he could have done it a bit better giving us a clear view of the Ensi. That is to say if he wasn’t a 100 years before his time and into comercial discrete and advanced subliminal product-placement. Well perhaps he were, at least I am always cross-checking with his photo when I see a 3-column Tekke Ensi. It would be great fun if one could find the exact match on ebay :). Until now I have found these, of course no exact match - yet:


And Steve, I just took the measurements of the Germech in photoshop, if the width is 86 cm then I get the height including fringes to 62 cm, just a bit more than 2 feet (and not less, sorry). But of course no way of knowing if they have been longer originally.


Steve Price March 20th, 2018 05:24 PM

Hi Martin

Two feet is a high step even for guys like me (30 inch inseam; 5'11 height). For people as short as Turkmen were in the 19th century (maybe even today, I don't know), that would have been a formidable obstacle, especially if the few photos we have represent clothing that they typically wore.

But to quote nearly everyone in the world, who knows?

Steve Price

Rich Larkin March 20th, 2018 05:49 PM

Hi Martin,

I was joking about the staged photo shoot and the Madison Avenue (New York, where the advertising industry is thought to have reached the stars...!) approach implemented by the Tekke marketing geniuses. Maybe it was mini-staged, where Prokudin-Gorsky

Speaking of geniuses, I am thoroughly impressed with your collection of ensis that mimic the one in the photo. You are definitely my favorite speculator on any subject! :cheers:


Martin Andersen March 20th, 2018 06:37 PM

Your right Steve, even 2 feet is a steep step, and not practical for a quick entre. But the Germech must anyway to some extend have been seen as an intended semi-barrier, kind of a half open/ half closed door. Again I would think it wasn't for everyday use, as with many of the Turkmen weaves a relation to the marriage ceremonies to me seems plausible (perhaps something like "please don't disturb the newly wed too much":))

Come to think about it, and looking through the Germechs I have in my photo archive, the few which have fringes or reminiscence of fringes seem to have fringes made simply by the warp threads, like this late Ersari Germech:


Warp fringes to me ain't terrible decorative, and aren’t the long and decorative fringes on fx Tekke pieces always colored, and applied into the warp and weft at the end of the pile weave? Like here:


I don’t think I have seen long decorative colored fringes applied at the end of flat weave endings. The Tekke Germechs doesn’t have any traces of colored “fringe-knots” where the pile weave is ending:


And on the other hand the specific design requirement of the Germech is as far as I understand that it mimics elements of the lover part of Ensis elem (and its borders) - and Ensis don’t have long decorative fringes at the elem. So perhaps long decorative fringes is actually not a regular design element of a Germech, and the one posted earlier an odd duck? (Turkmens breaking the rules seem to be a rule)

Sorry if I am hijacking the thread to be about the Germech format instead of the Ensi, but I of course sees them as being an interesting pair.

(and thanks Rich, i will try to come up with something more wild than this:))

Steve Price March 20th, 2018 07:57 PM

Hi Martin

The fringes on the germetches you posted look like extensions of the warps, as are most of the fringes I've seen on Turkmen weavings. Sewn on fringes seem to be uncommon in Turkmen work.

You point out that they probably weren't in place except on special occasions, when so the barrier they present wouldn't be an everyday obstacle. That was pointed out to me at the time I wrote the letter to HALI, too, and has merit. On the other hand, unless the yurt has indoor plumbing, it would be necessary to cross the threshold from time to time even on special occasions.

If any 19th century travelers mentioned the germetsch it would make understanding its function much easier. My gut feeling is that a long fringe that barely reaches the floor is an unlikely decorative or functional element, so I'm inclined to think it was a trapping for the interior of the yurt or for some animal. But it's hard to be confident in that belief.

Steve Price

Chuck Wagner March 20th, 2018 08:11 PM


Most of the older yurt images show a wood threshold board that is at least 12 inches high at the bottom of the entryways. If the flatwoven portion was on the ground, then it's conceivable as an exterior cover. I am inclined to believe that it may have been used on the backside of the board, as a more pleasant - and insulating - interior facing cover.


Martin Andersen March 21st, 2018 06:16 AM

hmm Steve :baffled: my terminology might be wrong but I am fairly certain that most long decorative colored fringes on Turkmen pieces are woven/applied into the warp and weft. On fx Torbas and Chuvals ect. the warp continues beyond the “fringes-knots” and becomes the uncolored plain weave of the bags back.


I have a few pieces with long fringes and a lot of pieces with reminisces of the large “fringe-knots”, placed in the transition between the pile and plain weave like this:


From what I can see on photos something like this also goes for Khalyks and other Turkmen trappings (though they of course don't have a plain weave back), thats is to say the fringes are inserted as "uncut large fringe-knots" where the pile weave ends.



Steve Price March 21st, 2018 12:13 PM

Hi Martin

You're right, I was having a senior moment. The fringes are essentially a row of very long pile. It's neither sewn on nor is it extended warp.

I think I'm lucid again. My apologies.

Steve Price

Martin Andersen March 21st, 2018 03:12 PM

Totally okay Steve, I sure know the felling :)

I hadn’t thought about this before you brought it up here, but looking closer into the fringes regarding the Germechs is totally relevant and interesting:

In my photo archive I have a total of 22 possible Germechs.

16 of these still have the lower end flat weave (or reminiscenses of it) - and none of these 16 have any large colored "fringe knots"! That is rather extraordinary.
(There is the one odd duck, posted earlier with the long warp fringes, it also have borders which differs from the rest)

So at least concerning the Germechs I have seen this means one could argue that they as a format are peculiar in this, and differs from other bags and trappings in that they don’t have the large colored fringe-knots in the transition between pile weave and flat weave. This as far as I can see means that they actually never had long colored decorative fringes, as opposed to other trappings and bags - perhaps exactly because they were intended to hang low. I know it's a rather convoluted argument, but I dont think it’s far out.

Perhaps the lack of "fringe knots" in conjunction with size/design from the Ensis elem/ Ensi borders/and upper reenforcement is the definition of the Germech format? Well, I will keep on looking to see if this holds water, I of course as often before may be wrong.

Here a slightly better scan of the grand old lady of the Germech format from Jürg Rageth’s book, size 79x33 cm :


best Martin

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