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-   -   White ground border Aksu Kap, Tekke or Saryk or ? (http://www.turkotek.com/VB37/showthread.php?t=4383)

Martin Andersen November 3rd, 2017 12:42 PM

White ground border Aksu Kap, Tekke or Saryk or ?
Hi All

Here a rather unusual white ground border Aksu Kap. I am uncertain of which tribe it should be attributed to, so I am very interested in hearing your opinion.
I suppose Tekke or Saryk is what seems most plausible?

The size is 28 x 38 cm, and the knot count I get to ca 300 kpsi.



The white to me looks like cotton, and there are highlights of purple silk in the centers on the mainfield.
It is the extensive use of cotton and silk which make me think Saryk as a possibility. It feels like it is woven asymmetric open right, so I tend to think of it as Tekke.


The white cotton is significantly lower than the wool, kind of like corroded or compressed. The small purple silk highlights look more silke-like in real life than in the photos (they are few, so please dont ask me to do a burn test :))


In the top right corners there are remains of an upper guard border, so even though of course the borders are fragmented, the main field is kind of complete. A rather unusual square format? But I suppose the piece is too small for being half a Khorjin?


In the main border there seems to be some offset knotting going on.

Any comments or comparable pieces much appreciated, I haven't really found anything in my books.
And even though it is a fragmented piece in a slightly battered state I enjoy it daily on the wall for its aesthetics. And of course the refined Aksu pattern in itself is interesting.

All the best

Martin Andersen November 3rd, 2017 07:04 PM

Sorry, already second thoughts :)
Actually the Elem, or the lower part of the border, with the large ramshorn design could be seen as being in accordance with a generel design layout on Turkmen Khorjins.


There aren’t many old Turkmen Khorjins around, but when looking at what I can find on the net a kind of ramshorn Elem seem to be rather frequent


And I suppose Turkmen saddlebags tend to be rather small. So in conjunction with the Elem and the squarish format I right now tend to think Khorjin instead of Kap.

Best Martin

Chuck Wagner November 3rd, 2017 11:59 PM

Hi Martin,

A conversation with Peter Poullada from a few months ago yielded some reference to Saryk work from the middle Amu Darya that had asymmetric knots. But they are open left, not right. Most other Saryk work is symmetrical.

A link:

The border design leaves an open question in my mind about Yomud work. Tsareva shows several examples of this border from the Ogurjali in the region between the Caspian and (what is left of) the Aral Sea. The Yomud are known to weave open right as well as symmetrical knots.

Given the cotton content, I think that it's a reasonable thing to consider.

Chuck Wagner

Martin Andersen November 4th, 2017 07:24 AM

Thanks Chuck

Must admit I haven’t really thought Yomud a possibility, in hand the piece is very fine luxury cloth like, and I dont really associate silke and cotton with Yomud, the color scheme seems too “restraint´ (or refined, sorry Yomuds :)) and ain't the 250 kpsi on the high end for Yomud? But I sure might be wrong. Do you have any Yomud pieces with silk and cotton you could post? If it's From Tsareva´s The Hoffmeister Collection or The Russian Collection I can look them up.

Regarding the border (the Syrga border?) I know it is very common in Yomud pieces, but it is also a kind of cross-tribal feature in small formats like “The tree of life panel” Mafrashs. Here a Tekke:


(A small side note regarding the border: It is kind of interesting how its "scaled down" from top to bottom. And the weaver sure didn't have problems holding the proportions in the mainfield of the Aksu design, so to me it seems intentional. It also to some extent goes for the Tekke Mafrash above)

Best Martin

Chuck Wagner November 4th, 2017 02:55 PM


I admit that I have become hung up on the border and in particular, the execution of the motif. Structurally, Tekke makes the most sense, as previously noted.


Rich Larkin November 4th, 2017 05:55 PM

Hi Martin,

Whatever it is, functionally or tribally, it has an interesting list of features.

Amos Bateman Thacher illustrates (in black and white) a torba in this design in his book, Turkoman Rugs (1940, Plate 8) which he attributes confidently to the Saryk (Saryq). He mentions 190 kpsi, asymmetrical. He does not provide the orientation of the knot. He also mentions that the design often appears with silk in the centers of the 'guls.' Thacher was an original Hajji Baba clubber. Rugs from that group have been published frequently, and it would be interesting to know whether his Plate 8 appears anywhere with more thorough technical analysis.

Regarding your piece, I am inclined to go with the Saryk attribution based on the combination of features and palette. I agree the 250 kpsi is getting up there for Saryk work, but it isn't unheard of; and I would have no trouble accepting the proposition that the weaver considered it something of a special piece. In addition, there does not seem to be any warp depression, another common feature of Saryk weaving. Still, Saryk for me.


Martin Andersen November 4th, 2017 08:46 PM

Thanks a lot Rich
And I was lucky enough to find Thacher’s plate 8 online:

Best Martin
(and I totally agree with Thacher in seeing cloudbands/dragons in the white of the mainfield :))

Rich Larkin November 4th, 2017 09:52 PM

Hi Martin,


(...and I totally agree with Thacher in seeing cloudbands/dragons in the white of the mainfield )
I knew you would! :cheers:


Chuck Wagner November 5th, 2017 02:56 PM


Doing a little more research, I am unable to find any well documented examples of Saryk work with open right knots. The better published structural analyses are those of Elena Tsareva, and all Saryk examples are symmetrical or open left.

In her book on the Neville Kingston collection, there is an ak-su mafrash shown in the catalog with open right knots, which she attributes to the northern oasis of the Middle Amu Darya. She states that by design it could easily be classed as Tekke but the colors clearly place it in MAD. There is no cotton or silk in that piece.

So I still like Tekke (the colors on Martin's piece are inconsistent with Tsareva's MAD piece) , and am still wondering about the border, which does no appear on any Saryk pieces I have found.


Martin Andersen November 5th, 2017 02:57 PM

Sorry I have made a stupid miscalculation in the conversion from cm to inch, the Kpsi is around 300, and not 250.

Rich, I suppose a Kpsi this high plus the open right makes Tekke more likely? I certainly still have my doubts, the squarish format and the white Syrga border seems unique in combination with the Aksu design. And the mainfields use of purple (cochenille?) instead of red plus the cotton sure ain´t very Tekke-like. I have another Aksu Mafrash, clearly Tekke, and when looking at the two together they sure seem worlds part.

Best Martin

Martin Andersen November 5th, 2017 03:04 PM

Hi Chuck

Is there any chance you have a scan of Tsareva's Mafrash from Neville Kingston collection?
I also tend towards Tekke, but I think I have seen a single Saryk "Tree of Life" Mafrash with the Syrga border (I will look after it)

best Martin

Martin Andersen November 5th, 2017 03:37 PM

The reproduction of colors in the rugs of course is a nightmare to get correct. But perhaps it is a bit easier to see the general color layout on the back, as the brown outline kind of out-battles the purple on the front (it seems like the purple (cochinille) is corroded)


And i found the Saryk “Tree of Life” Mafrash with the Syrga border, it is no 40 in Jürg Rageth's “Turkmen Carpets, A New Perspective”


It is symmetric. I suppose any open right normally automatic would mean Tekke instead of Saryk in pieces without design specifics to say otherwise, except in perhaps very late pieces where Tekke and Saryk tends to totally converge?

Best Martin

Filiberto Boncompagni November 5th, 2017 04:00 PM

Hi Martin,

Speaking about Mrs. Tsareva…
From the Catalog of an exhibition held in the Palazzo ducale, Genoa, Italy, Sept. 24-Oct. 31, 1993 (Italian and English)
Tappeti dei nomadi dell'Asia centrale : della collezione del Museo russo di etnografia, San Pietroburgo / a cura di Elena Tsareva - Carpets of Central Asian nomads : from the collection of the Russian Museum of Ethnography, St. Petersburg / by Elena Tsareva.

Plate 46:



The 4,614 knots/dm2 fit with your Kpsi of around 300 but the knot is ‘asymmetrical right open left’, not asymmetric open right :baffled:.
And, of course, the attribution is Salors.

Anyway, you asked for comparable pieces and this is the same field design.



Martin Andersen November 5th, 2017 04:06 PM

‘asymmetrical right open left’ - oh no - it is text likes this which have made me give up on structure years ago :confused:

but thanks Filiberto :)

Chuck Wagner November 5th, 2017 04:15 PM


I have sent some images to Steve for posting; so they should be up fairly soon.

I wish I could get you guys this interested in the ensi in the nano-Salon... :banghead:


Martin Andersen November 5th, 2017 04:24 PM

Thanks Chuck - And I will look into the nano-Salon, hadn't seen it.
best Martin

Filiberto Boncompagni November 5th, 2017 04:24 PM

Hey Chuck,

I have to decline any hint of interest in Turkmen stuff :errormonkey:

I only posted a couple of scans to help Martin… :angelic:

Chuck Wagner November 5th, 2017 04:35 PM


Here are the images from Tsareva's catalog of the Kingston collection.

The dark rectangles in the border are a deep (but not so deep as to be black-ish) blue with yellow diamonds. The orange in the ak-su motifs is just slightly warmer than in the book:




Martin Andersen November 6th, 2017 01:04 AM

There seem to be a general rectangular layout with the Aksu design across the tribes (Ak su, in two words seems to be the correct spelling, I am a lousy speller apparently also in Turkmen, sorry). I have seen Salor, Eagle group, Saryk, Tekke, Yomud and Ersari versions, though no Chodor.
But the only one with white border and a squarish format I have seen is the one in this thread. I have just found a Tekke version where the white in the mainfield is cotton, but its on the marked so I can’t post it. I still tend to think Tekke is the most likely attribution, but it is somehow not totally satisfying, the feel and the color scheme doesn’t quite match what I associate with Tekke. Well, uncertainty is also interesting :)

best Martin

Steve Price November 6th, 2017 01:41 AM

Hi Martin

Ak su in Turkish translates as white (or fresh) water. Whether that has anything to do with the ak su motif is uncertain, though. Aksu is also the name of an oasis city in China on the silk road. The motif may derive its name from some association with Aksu.

I guess you can spell it as one word or as two words depending on your guess about its origin.

Steve Price

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