Turkotek Attribution Guides:


By R. John Howe

Below you will find a description of some basic characteristics of Salor weaving, based on design, weave structure, and colors and dyes. We have also included some information about dating pieces.

We note at the outset that some controversy exists over the criteria for attributing weaving to the Salor tribe. The most widely accepted approach is to use weave structure criteria (e.g., asymmetrical knot, open to left; significant warp depression) as the exclusive basis for a Salor attribution. In his general book, however, Murray Eiland maintains that we do not currently have enough evidence either to designate such pieces (at one point called "S-group" weavings) as Salors or to assume that the only true Salors are those having "S-group" structural features. Murray L. Eiland, Oriental Rugs 190-95 (1980). He is inclined to accept as Salors many weavings that do not have S-group structural features, including some that are quite contemporary (e.g. some Afghan Mauri weavings).

(For Eiland's current views, click here for his recent exchange with R. John Howe. In sum, Eiland remains skeptical of equating S-group structural features with a Salor tribal attribution, but concedes that such an equation cannot be ruled out definitively.)

George O'Bannon also has sounded a cautionary note about the equation of S-group structural characteristics with a Salor tribal attribution. In his article Turkoman People and Turkoman Weavings, published in Vanishing Jewels: Central Asian Tribal Weavings 18-19 (1990), he suggests that the Salor tribal attribution has become too dependent on structural characteristics. "[W]e know from Tekke rugs," he observes, "that there can be considerable variety in the weaving corpus of a major tribe. This is seen not only in weaving techniques but wool quality, dyes, border pattern variations, and sizes."

Some support for Eiland's views can be drawn from General Andrei Andreevich Bogolyubov's book, first published in 1908. General Boglyubov was Head of the Transcaspian Province at the turn of the century and amassed a collection of 139 Turkoman pieces. Of the four pieces Boglyubov attributed to the Salor, one lacks S-group structural features. And he characterized four pieces having S-group structural features as "Pende" rather than Salor. Bogolyubov's attributions deserve some deference, given his geographic and temporal proximity to the source of the weavings.


As with other Turkoman weavings, the standard design features in Salor work vary according to the nature of the weaving.

Weave Structure

Salor pile weavings generally have wool warps, 2ZS, ivory, browns or a brown- gray combination. Alternative warps are significantly depressed and the backs are consequently ribbed and the handle less than floppy. Wefts consist of two shoots of wool, Z2S, and are brown, red, brown-gray. Two shoots. One weft is taut, the other sinuous. The most usual knot is asymmetric open to the left, although some latter pieces apparently have knots that are asymmetric open to the right. Knot density varies from 2,000 to 5,000 knots per square decimeter.

Pile is mostly of wool but silk decoration is frequent, sometimes lavish in latter pieces. Pile wool is usually 2ZS but 1Z, 3Z and 4Z have been noted. Silk 2Z, 3Z, 4Z, and 5Z have been reported.

Side finishes are often two two warp selvages, wrapped in dark blue or green wool or in two color checkerboard pattern. Multicolor braids occur. End finishes include ends cut and wrapped in dark blue or green wool; also red, white, or blue plain weave folded back and sewn; sometimes brown embroidered tape; dark blue fringes are attached.

Colors & Dyes

Except for the coloring of the quarters of some guls, Salor weavings do not exhibit a diagonal use of color. According to O'Bannon, "Although the absence of diagonal color is not exclusively Salor -- the Saryks did not always use it and Choudor weavings frequently have a stronger vertical and horizontal color usage than diagonal -- the absence of diagonal color usage is something to keep in mind when distinguishing Salor pieces from Tekke." V. G. Moshkova, Carpets of the People of Central Asia 186 (G. O'Bannon & O. K. Amanova-Olsen, eds. 1996)(O'Bannon's commentary).

Some analysts count as many as 14 colors in Salor weavings. Ten may be more typical. Three and four shades of red, including an occasional corrosive red, and of blue are often claimed. Other colors include: shades of green, brown, orange, yellow and ivory. Most of the pieces designated as Salor are estimated to have been woven before synthetic dyes were in widespread use. Both lac and cochineal dyes are reported, especially in silk decorations.

Distinguishing the Older from the Newer

Most weavings attributed to the Salors are estimated to have been woven in the first half of the 19th century or in the 18th century. Indicators of age include the "roundest" of ornaments (said to result from knots that are nearly as tall as they are wide), the spaciousness of the drawing, larger but fewer guls, simpler, seemingly archaic forms of some ornaments, and a color palette that includes some distinctive clear reds. Thompson suggests that the earliest Turkoman rugs may have had large, closely packed ornaments, followed by a period of spacious drawing, after which the space is filled up with ornaments and borders. Turkmen: Tribal Carpets & Traditions 98, 67, 69 (L. Mackie & J. Thompson, eds. 1980).

Some writers believe that the Salors largely stopped weaving after their military defeat in the mid-19th century. If one accepts this conclusion, then the the presence of a synthetic dye would exclude a Salor attribution. As indicated above, Murray Eiland remains skeptical of the conclusion that Salor weaving stopped with the tribe's military defeat in the mid-nineteenth century. See his recent exchange with R. John Howe. He believes that there is evidence that at least some Salor weaving continued long after that date.


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