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-   -   A Tekke torba, with recent radiocarbon date analysis (http://www.turkotek.com/VB37/showthread.php?t=3941)

Chuck Wagner July 24th, 2017 01:38 PM

A Tekke torba, with recent radiocarbon date analysis
This thread is included to encourage discussions on other non-ensi Turkmen pieces that may be of general interest to readers.

Several years ago, there was an extended discussion on Martin Andersenís old Tekke torba, with a follow-up thread after he received his radiocarbon results. Links to these threads are:



I had an opportunity to acquire this 6 gul Tekke torba some time ago. It has several unusual features, and a color palette somewhat different than many Tekke pieces. Regarding the palette and design, Jim Allen offered the opinion that it is typical of pieces from the Akhal Oasis, and that the piece was probably very early 19th century.


Unusual design elements include the small diamonds around the tertiary and chemche guls, the rare checkerboard fill elements, the bright blue in the major guls (better seen from the back), and the unusual orientation of the short diagonals on the chemche guls.



The only other example I have seen of the short diagonal orientation is at the far left side of a piece posted in Martinís thread, from a torba sold by Kaminski Auction House:


Online comparisons with analog pieces from auction houses, and email discussions with other acquaintances motivated me to send a wool sample from the torba for radiocarbon dating, even though it was pretty clear from the homework that the piece was not of sufficient age to be dated unambiguously.

Along the bottom edge of this torba, there is a convenient divet that exposes the wefts, so I separated 3 weft samples and sent them to the radiocarbon dating lab at the University of Arizona for AMS radiocarbon date analysis.

The result is shown in the chart below. I believe it is safe to ignore the 20th century dates. The next most recent likely date range is 1802 plus or minus 19 years:


For comparative purposes, here is the result from Martinís torba:


Chuck Wagner

Rich Larkin August 1st, 2017 10:46 PM

Hi Chuck,

I know your focus here is on the radiocarbon dating of your torba, but I would be interested in an estimate of the knot count.

Nice, mellow piece!


Chuck Wagner August 2nd, 2017 02:24 AM

Hi Rich,

The knot count is quite variable on this piece, as is the thickness of the various colored yarns and the tightness of the spin.

On the average, it is 11 H x 22 V = 242 kpsi.


Kay Dee August 5th, 2017 07:11 AM

If I may be so rude to ask, but given I have some rugs that I'd like to find a definitive +/- date on, how much does the carbon testing cost that you had done Chuck?

Email me off-board if you would rather than post here.



Chuck Wagner August 5th, 2017 11:41 PM

Hi Kay,

No need to go off-board for this. Most textile samples require extra, and careful, cleaning. With no rush on the order it's about $450, a rush order is more. You can see more details on their website: https://ams.arizona.edu/

I found them to be very responsive and very helpful.

Keep one thing in mind; you won't get an unambiguous date unless the sample predates about 1650 AD. Note that on the chart for my torba the line intersects the tree ring date band (blue) in four places and grazes it at a fifth. Any one of them could be the correct one. Without additional independent corroboration there's no way to nail the date down definitively.

I discount the 20th century dates on my piece, figuring that it is possible, but unlikely, that someone forged a piece like this, or copied an old design using just the right yarn. But I doubt it. It could be as early as 1680 or as late as 1821. I'm satisfied with a turn-of-the 19th century placement.

Also, remember that there is always some risk of contamination, particularly if a piece has been chemically washed - thus the requirement for extra cleaning steps, and careful sample selection. In my case, a two inch long weft sample was sufficient for analysis.

Chuck Wagner

Kay Dee August 6th, 2017 07:19 AM

Thank you VERY MUCH for your detailed reply Chuck!

David R E Hunt September 14th, 2017 03:25 PM

Tekke or ?...
Hi Chuck

Nice to see this one again! So you are the lucky owner : ). To be honest, the colors and especially the variability of the weave suggest a certain Kizil Ayak in my collection. Ditto these diamond shaped tertiary elements sprinkled about the field. My understanding, rudimentary as it is, would state that the Kizil A are in fact related to the Tekke, if memory serves?...


Chuck Wagner September 17th, 2017 06:18 PM

Hi Dave,

I am not personally aware of any research that - via genetics - links the Tekke and the Kizil Ayak.

One could easily imagine a situation where tribes displaced or relocated by Khans or Soviets exist in close proximity, or are co-located, and as the geezers die off, the intermarriage process could result in localized connection.

But historically, not a link I am familiar with. Elena Tsareva was kind enough to take a look at some images and agreed with a Tekke attribution. But, to be fair, she didn't handle the piece, and, the Kizil Ayak question was not raised in the context of this piece.

Jim Allen has noted the diamond fill motifs on other older Tekke torbas, and it's his sense that they represent arrows (via personal communication).


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