Below you will find a description of some basic characteristics of Chodor weaving, based on design, weave structure, and colors and dyes. We have also included some information about dating pieces.
As with other Turkoman weavings, the standard design features in Chodor work vary according to the nature of the weaving.
Main Carpets. The Chodor used the tauk nuska gul as the major gul in many main carpets. Other main carpets use the Ertmen gul, which is the motif most closely associated with the Chodor; variants of the drynak gul; and even the ak su motif. See Uwe Jourdan, Oriental Rugs: Volume 5 -- Turkoman, plates 212-19. When ornaments other than the tauk nuska gul are used, they are often set into some kind of a lattice framework without the major/minor gul array that typifies Turkoman main carpets. Id. Main borders frequently consists of a vine meander that frames curled leaves or ashiks and that is set on a white ground. Elems often use ashiks having diagonal coloration.
Chuvals, torbas, trappings. Chodor tent bags and/or wedding animal trappings show a number of motifs, including kejebe and the chuval gul. The most common motif, however, is the ertmen gul. The presence of this gul does not dictate a Chodor attribution because the Yomut sometimes used it. One must look to structure and palette to distinguish Yomut and Chodor ertmen gul weavings.
In his fine article Dividing the Chodor, 77 HALI 96 (1994), Kurt Munkacsi identifies four categories of Ertmen gul Chodor bags and other weavings. Each group and its distinguishing features are set forth below:
Group I: Blue Guls with Bars
- blue guls contain a vertical pole in the center with kockaks at the top and bottom and an ashik-like device through the center.
- a red or white gul occupies the center of the field.
- four complete blue guls surround the center white or red gul.
- blue guls usually have two shades of blue or blue-green, diagonally opposed.
- gul shapes are serrated and tend to be elongated.
- rounded 'S' forms often populate the minor borders.
- Yomut influence more apparent than in other groups.
- greatest use of cotton in the weft.
Group II: Blue Guls with Stars
- blue guls with eight-pointed star centers, the stars containing a rectangle with a diamond center.
- chuval field design always has three complete blue guls, with a central blue gul surrounded by red and white guls.
- many pieces have colored wefts.
- consistent palette, especially the brown-purple ground color.
- red and white guls contain well articulated "bird" or "animal" heads with apparent "tail."
- when used, 'S' in minor borders is squared.
- main chuval border is usually of the 'X' and diamond type.
- blue guls more elongated horizontally than Group I guls.
- no warp depression.
Group III: Missing Blue Guls
- no blue guls.
- guls have interiors of four box devices with "animal" heads, two either side of three vertically stacked ashiks.
- guls are colored, typically with red and white, so as to create diagonal arrays.
- little or no use of cotton in foundation.
- rose palette.
- guls have stepped appearance similar to the chuval gul.
- elems tend to have ashik-based design.
- use of light blue or blue-green to outline guls or, in main carpets, in the elems.
- little or no Yomut influence.
Group IV: Tall Blue Guls
- tall and elongated blue guls.
- horizontal as opposed to vertical poles in gul interior.
- red and white guls have well articulated "animals" inside.
- high knot counts, fine materials.
- use of a beautiful, clear light blue.
- kochanak main borders.
Ensis. Chodor ensis are relatively rare. In Doors of the Chodor, 26 HALI 30 (1985), Werner Loges listed nine. See also Uwe Jourdan, Oriental Rugs: Volume 5 -- Turkoman, plate 221 (ensi not listed by Loges). The overwhelming bulk of published examples have the four panel "hatchli" field design that typifies Turkoman ensis. The vertical bar that transects the field has at its top and sometimes also where it meets the horizontal bar/panel a directional triangle with a kochak. Also, the field of the overwhelming bulk of the published examples consists of diagonally colored ashik trees, which contain a usually three-pronged floral device. Many published examples have animals in the lower elem.
Chodor pile weavings generally have Z2S undyed brown or grey warps of wool, goathair, or camelhair or some mixture thereof. Wefts are generally two shoots of undyed wool, cotton, camelhair, goathair, or a mixture. Most have some cotton in the wefts. "[S]ometimes one strand is plied with a strand of brown wool; sometimes both strands are cotton, and sometimes both are wool." L. Mackie & J. Thompson, Turkmen: Tribal Carpets & Traditions, at 119. The sides of rugs and carpets "are finished with a flat, usually four-cord selvedge wrapped with goat-hair or wool in a two-color check." Id. Pile knots are invariably asymmetric, open to the right.
Colors & Dyes
Between five and seven colours are usually employed, mostly dark in tone except for the vivid red and white shades." Werner Loges, Turkoman Tribal Rugs, at 106. According to Moshkova, Chodor weavings tend to use a large number of blue tones, white for main border ground, and diagonal coloring. Moshkova, Carpets of the People of Central Asia, at 265 (O'Bannon's summary). "The most conspicuous feature of old Chodor carpets is their purple-brown ground colour." Loges, at 106.
Distinguishing the Older from the Newer
At the outset, we should note a point of controversy about the dating of Chodor pieces. Collectible Turkoman pieces are typically dated within a range of 100 years, beginning in the early 19th century and ending in the early 20th century. In his HALI article, however, Kurt Munkacsi challenges this convention, at least insofar as it pertains to the Chodor. Based on his correlations of the pieces with what we know about the movement of the Chodor, Munkacsi believes that this period should be extended back to the early 18th century.
Mackie and Thompson use color to distinguish older from newer weavings. The oldest group of weavings, which Mackie and Thompson call "proto-Chodor", "have a very deep purple field color, the red is clear and strong tending towards orange-tan or even apricot, [and] . . . often have a good green or light blue-green, and a clear yellow." Mackie & Thompson, at 119. Pieces in the latest group, which date to the latter part of the 19th and early part of the 20th century, have a light purple or violet brown field, a soft light red and a green blue "in addition to the ubiquitous dark and mid-blues", yellow in small amounts, and natural brown outlines. "Some pieces have a muddy khaki green." Id. The middle group of weavings have a darker purple-brown field and a deeper red. "A good green and a very light celadon blue-green may be found." Id. See also Jourdan, at pl. 226 (in older Ertmen gul weavings, the guls are usually done in four different colors).
In addition, the quality of the weave might be relevant. According to Mackie and Thompson, in older weavings the "pile is a little longer and wool of better quality than the later pieces . . ., [which often display] shoddy work, with wrinkles, bulges and crooked ends . . . ." Mackie & Thompson, at 119.
For ertmen gul weavings, the drawing of the zig-zag lattice that surrounds the guls might be relevant. Munkacsi maintains that the oldest form of the lattice is "the simplest, a zig-zag following the outer edge of the gul, rather like a lightning bolt . . . ." 77 HALI at 98. The next oldest form is marked by the presence of boxes in the zig-zag. "In the last stage of lattice development, the box devices have become 'box flowers', while the lattice itself no longer has an 'electric' feel and has almost become a trellis supporting the flowers." Id., at 98-99. But see Jourdan, pl. 226 (in the oldest Ertmen gul chuvals, the guls are surrounded by "a fine zig-zag lattice often with small floral incursions.").
The literature sends conflicting signals as to relevance of cotton in the weft. In Doors of the Chodor, supra, Loges asserts that truly old Chodor weavings have no cotton in the foundation. Munkacsi, for his part, believes that the amount of cotton provides an indication of the place and, hence, the time of the weaving. In sharp contrast with Loges' views, he hypothesizes that "the less cotton we find, the further away we are from Khorezm", a seat of Chodor tribal groups since the late 17th century. Based partly on the large amount of cotton in one chuval, for instance, he suggests a possible date of "the first half of the 18th century, when the tribe first arrived in Khorezm . . . ." 77 HALI at 101.