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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

Martin Andersen November 6th, 2017 01:51 AM

Thanks Steve - Then I will cling on to "Aksu" - an oasis city must have water and to me the design sure aesthetically have an eastern tone

Best Martin

Martin Andersen November 6th, 2017 08:30 AM

This piece was sold as “probably Saryk”, the white is cotton. Would have loved to have more info on it, fx if it is in Khorjin or Mafrash format when lifted of the chair (according to the seller it looked complete).
The Elem match what I would except once have been the layout of the lower end of my Aksu piece. It is sometimes a small world, who knows perhaps someone here knows where the chair is now?


Best Martin

Chuck Wagner November 7th, 2017 02:41 PM

Hi Martin,

Maybe it's just me, but I cannot get a definitive view of the knot asymmetry.

Would you mind trying to get a good clear shot, maybe folding back along a weft line ?


Martin Andersen November 7th, 2017 06:19 PM

Hi Chuck

Here some close ups, folded along the weft line. Hope they makes sense (not easy to take photos of these very small knots). And I would of course love to be wrong regarding the open right :)






Rich Larkin November 7th, 2017 09:56 PM

Hi Martin,

Bravo on the photography. Those are open right, asymmetrical, no doubt.


Chuck Wagner November 7th, 2017 10:32 PM

Hi Martin,

Rich is correct, those are good shots, and yes, AsymR. For me, that rules out Saryk work (as far as anyone can rule anything out, given that we actually know so little).

There an ak-su torba out there in the interverse with open right knotting; the seller has deftly avoided criticism/conflict by just calling it Turkmen.


Rich Larkin November 7th, 2017 10:53 PM


My reflex take on Martin's frag, based largely on palette, with a minor chord played from the cotton section, is that it doesn't look Tekke. Maybe I have led too sheltered a life. Does it strike you that way, technical specs notwithstanding?


Chuck Wagner November 7th, 2017 11:36 PM


I presume you are referring to what seems to be a relatively dark palette.

I think judgement of the palette is deceptive because so much of the border area is gone.

What little is there, is consistent with Tekke, and undifferentiated Middle Amu Darya (typically AsymR) , and pieces such as the late MAD Salor chuvals. The relatively large area of the face devoted to silk is also consistent with both sources.

That border/end panel motif treatment is common on Turkmen khorjins from several weaving groups (which is why I still have a nagging Yomud opinion as well). For me, the unusual occurrence of ak-su on a small bag is enough to wonder about MAD origin.

Almost all ak-su torbas that I've looked at over the past few days have the dark blue outline on the main motif, including the Salor examples (that's why I wanted to have a good look at the knots, but nope, no AsymL).


Rich Larkin November 8th, 2017 02:03 AM

Hi Chuck,

Good point about the missing parts! Plenty of regular madder red there, I am sure.


Chuck Wagner November 8th, 2017 02:15 AM

...and BTW...

the white in the close-ups of the knots looks like wool, not cotton.

...and BTW...

In Peter Stone's book on tribal and village motifs, he mentions - but does not show - a Veramin Arab saddlebag with the ak-su motif.

Dark palette. Sound familiar ?


Martin Andersen November 8th, 2017 06:55 AM

Thanks Chuck and Rich

Regarding the outer missing framing there is of course no way of knowing. But on all Aksu pieces I have seen the color from the “gols” in the mainfield (or the color from the main border) is repeated as outer frame. A clear red madder framing repeating the small parts of the guard border on my piece would have been beautiful and in high contrast to the mainfield, but also aesthetically a bit strange compared to what else exist.
And I am fairly sure the white is cotton, the closeups might misrepresent texture a bit because of the digital sharpening.

Here a photo of my Tekke Mafrash Aksu, size ca. 78 x 70 cm including fringes. Very very fine knots, haven’t counted them, but sure it is a higher Kpsi than the other. In this there is nothing which have made me uncertain about it being Tekke.


I suddenly remember I might have a MAD Aksu somewhere (not terrible exciting so it have hidden itself somewhere, I will try to find it). Veramin I find unlikely for my piece, but would be very interesting seeing how the Veramin used the Aksu pattern in saddlebag format. I still think the Khorjin format is a possibility because of the "Elem".
A facebook friend have suggested Ok Bosh fragment as a possibility, would of course also be interesting, dont think I have seen the Syrga border on a Ok Bosh, but the same goes for a Khorjin. Well missing parts are leaving room for speculations, perhaps thats why I prefer fragments and pieces with holes :)

Best Martin

Chuck Wagner November 8th, 2017 01:10 PM

Hi Martin,

Since writing the last post I found a photo of the Veramin piece in a book by Parviz Tanavoli, and while having an accurately drawn ak-su motif, it's nothing at all like your piece. And I never thought yours was anything other than Turkmen.


Martin Andersen November 8th, 2017 01:16 PM

Hi Chuck

I would still be curious to see the Veramin, if its not too much trouble. It is generally interesting how the Veramin adapted Turkmen patterns.

Here some photos of my “not terrible exciting” MAD Aksu (it is one of those ebay buys where you fool yourself into hoping the photos of the colors could perhaps be wrong - it will quickly go into hiding again :)). The size is 83 x 42 cm, and open right. Not much nice to say about it, perhaps except with some good will a nice green and reminisents of fringes, and I suppose around 1900 wouldn’t be unthinkable. Obviously hot running red.



I suppose its needless to say but the feel, wool and colors are rather unrelated to my little Aksu Kap/Khorjin

Best Martin

Joel Greifinger November 8th, 2017 01:48 PM


I would still be curious to see the Veramin
Hi Martin,

I assume that this is the Arab khorjin from Varamin (in Tanavoli) that Chuck was citing:



Martin Andersen November 8th, 2017 04:34 PM

Thanks Joel, interesting to see it. I think I have seen Veramins a bit more faithfull towards their possible Turkmen design origin.

My piece doesn’t have silk/cotton in the weft so I won’t claim Eagle Group as a possibility, but anyway:

In the Eagle Group the Asku design seems to be well-represented, actually surprisingly over-represented compared to its frequency in the other tribes/groups. The Aksu seems to be the most common Eagle Group pattern for small formats. John Taylor have collected 27 pieces on his Rugtracker blog. None of Taylors samples are of course with the white Syrga border or are in my very small format, but some of them looks like they have a purple insect dye mainfield.





Taylor doesn’t register if any of these have cotton and/or silk in the pile. But Hoffmeister’s Eagle Group Kizil Chuval here does have both cotton and silk in the pile:


The structural criteria for Eagle Group is as far as I understand established mainly by the structure of the weft in main carpets. But i am not sure if all the smaller Eagle Group pieces by definition are required to have silk and cotton in the weft? Or if some of the smaller pieces are attributed by layout/colors of pieces which meets the structural criteria for Eagle Group?
Well I suppose Eagle Group attribution perhaps should be taken with some cautiousness, I can easily see sellers and auctions gladly putting on the label.

Taylor calls the Eagle Group “kind of Tekkified Yomut”, perhaps I could label my piece “kind of Eagle Groupified Tekke” :)

Best Martin

Martin Andersen December 1st, 2017 12:38 PM

Hi All

Here a beautiful Tekke Torba from a facebook friend. The white is cotton, the purple is silk and the Kpsi is 324.


Though the Ak Su / Aksu pattern is rather uniform, there are some variations which I am beginning to get kind of hold on, fx in regard to diagonal colorshift in the rows of the “Gols” and their blue/blue-green background color (it’s often difficult to se in photographic reproduction). I still think the missing out frame on my originally posted piece would have to have been a purple cochinielle /insect dye (and not red madder) otherwise the contrast between mainfield and outer framing would have been to contrasting compared to what is else around. But of course no way of knowing.

And I am still looking for more directly comparable material to my piece, the border, the square format, the elem in combination with the Aksu pattern seems unique, so if any here also in the future finds comparable material in these aspects I would be happy to know.


Chuck Wagner December 1st, 2017 01:33 PM


Using a search on Google Images - today - with "Ak Su torba" as the search criteria, there is currently a torba with the single-kotchak motif (latch hook) along the upper edge in the results.

It is on the market, on a very well known rug site, so I can't say much more. It does not appear to be quite the same form as yours, which is more like the Tekke and Varamin small bag elem device.

Similarly, the criteria "ak su bagface" will - today - dredge up an image of a small bag (also on the market) with dimensions similar to yours, but much newer and less traditional, based on colors.

And, your facefriend's bag is very nice.


Martin Andersen December 1st, 2017 02:10 PM

Thanks a lot Chuck

If the Torba with the single-kotchak motif at the upper edge is at a website with an animal name (hope I am not in violation of forum rules:)), then it was one of the samples on the market I couldn’t post earlier. This one is in regular Torba format, that is to say ca twice the length ratio compared to hight, while my sample is much more squarish (Khorjin-like)

The second one unfortunately doesn’t pop up in my googleimage search (I suppose google are servicing us slightly individually with a limited amount of images)

best Martin

Martin Andersen December 11th, 2017 12:59 PM

For what its worth: the weft to me looks like light brown fine sheep wool, and the warp like slightly less fine white wool, quite comparable to other Tekke pieces I have that I would think old.

Bets Martin

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