Below you will find a description of some basic characteristics of Yomut, based on design, weave structure, and colors and dyes. We have also included some information about dating pieces.
The standard designs used by the Yomut vary according to the nature of the weaving.
Main Carpets. The dyrnak gul, kepse, and the tauk nuska guls are the ones used with the greatest frequency in Yomut main carpets. Main carpets using the dyrnak gul or the kepse gul tend not to employ minor guls. The guls in these main carpets are often colored so as to create diagonal or vertical arrays. Typical borders include the so-called boat border, a meandering vine and curled leaf (also called dogajik border, and "syrga" borders consisting of, for instance, an interlocking series of stylized S's or reverse S's. Typical elem patterns include repetitive floral motifs, tree motifs (the gapyrga motif or so-called Yomut "pine tree"), and less frequently eagle motifs.
Chuvals, torbas, mafrashes. "Yomud bag faces are most frequently found in the joval format; the smaller, shallower bags are less common." Murray L. Eiland, Oriental Rugs 210 (1981). Yomut chuvals, in fact, "are the most numerous of all [surviving] Turkoman weavings." O'Bannon et al., Vanishing Jewels: Central Asian Tribal Weavings, at 103. The chuval gul is frequently used as the major gul. Chemche guls are often used as the minor gul, although the erre gul, sharch palak gul, and ara gul also make appearances. A great variety of main borders are employed, including the classically Yomut atanak border, and these often sit on a white ground. As in main carpets, the running dog motif is often used for minor borders. The elems may be plain or contain motifs that differ widely from piece to piece. "Small Yomut bag faces exhibit an astonishing range of designs and our knowledge of this is constantly being enriched as more pieces come on to the market." Uwe Jourdan, Oriental Rugs: Volume 5 - Turkoman, at 204.
Ensis. In contrast with Tekke ensis, Yomut ensis frequently do not have a directional mihrab-like device at the top. Like Tekke ensis, Yomut ensis do have the hatchli or katchli format, in which the field is divided into four panels by a vertical bar panel transected by a center horizontal bar panel. Yet this is not invariably so, for there are a number of published examples of Yomut ensis whose field is not divided into quadrants. See, e.g., Jourdan, plates 148 & 149. The field is decorated with a repetitive motif. Unlike Tekke ensis, which standardly use a repeating candelabra (or tuning fork) motif enclosed within lined rows, the repetitive field motif shows considerable variation from rug to rug. In Yomut ensis, the repeating motifs are arranged in rows, but often without any enclosing lines and often with a coloration that creates diagonal arrays. The bottom elems are usually divided into two parts. The bottom elem panel often has a chocolate brown ground and the so-called Yomut eagle is sometimes found in the upper panel.
Yomut pile weavings have a warp consisting of undyed goat hair or wool, a combination of the two, or wool and cotton. In contrast, Tekke weavings frequently use an ivory warp. The Yomut usually employed 2 shoot wefts of wool, camelhair or very occasionally a shoot of both wool and cotton. Both symmetric and asymmetric knots are found. See Moshkova, at 246; Jourdan, at 30. "[T[he edges show a variety of finishes. There may be a double overcast, often with two colors alternativing approximately every inch. Some pieces have a 2-cord double selvage, sometimes with colors alternating in checkerboard fashion; the double selvage is a light blue wool in a group of Yomud carpets that appears to be relatively late." Murray L. Eiland, Oriental Rugs 207 (1981).
"Apart from the Salor, the Yomut used the widest selection of colours among the Turkoman carpet weavers, and it is not uncommon to find nine colours in one piece. The palette consists of white, yellow, several shades of blue, turquoise (especially in older pieces), green and a great many red and brown hues. So many different colour nuances are found that it is no easy task to identify Yomut weavings on the basis of the colours." Loges, at 65. The overall palette is generally browner and darker than Tekke weaving.
Dating pieces is difficult and often the subject of reasonable differences of opinion. However, the following criteria are generally used to distinguish between older (before late nineteenth century) and newer (late nineteenth century and early twentieth century)Yomut pieces.
Weave structure. In older pieces, the vertical and horizontal knot count tend to be more equal than in later pieces, where is sometimes approaches 2:1.
Designs. The same generalization that applies to the weaving of other Turkoman groups applies here: The designs of older pieces tend to be less busy and more spaciously organized than more recent pieces. Older pieces tend to have fewer, more rounded, and well spaced guls. Newer pieces tend to have more guls, which have a more flattened shape, and less open space.
In main carpets, the guls themselves can indicate age. The use of serrated leaf or C-guls or eagle guls, or the intermingling of the drynak or kepse gul with other guls are indicators of an early date. The use of different motifs in bottom and top elems is an indicator of age.
As for ensis, it is very rare to find an old Yomut ensi with elems on both the top and the bottom. See Moshkova, at 245 (O'Bannon's commentary). The bottom skirt elem panel on older Yomut ensis often has a medium blue ground.
Older Yomut chuvals tend to have 9 guls, with a 3 x 3 array. Vanishing Jewels, at 103. Nineteenth century chuvals "almost always had two or three triangular ornaments [called closure markers] in the top border; three is less common than two." Id.
Palette. An excellent general reference is Mark Whiting's article, The Dyes in Turkoman Carpets, which appears in Louise Mackie & Jon Thompson, Turkmen: Tribal Carpets and Traditions (1980). According to Whiting, natural colors in Turkoman rugs include shades of reds and browns produced by madder; shades of red, purple, and grey produced by cochineal; blues produced by indigo; infrequent yellows; and greens and orange produced by mixtures. Whiting reports that the early aniline dyes are almost absent from Turkoman work. However, beginning around 1890 Turkoman weavers began to use azo dyes. The most common was Ponceau 2R, which produces a brilliant red and often was combined with madder. The next common was Amaranth, which produces cochineal-like colors and "cannot be distinguished from cochineal by eye." The use of such dyes was extensive after the turn of the century.
According to Jourdan, "[T]he earliest rugs with analine dyes . . . have only small amounts, the most common being a very light-fugitive mauve called fuchsine. Other early synthetic colors include a somewhat lurid orange and various types and shades of red and pink; the reds in particular have a tendency to run if brought into contact with liquids and most early synthetics show signs of fading, especially if the base of the knot is compared with the tip of the pile." Jourdan, at 17. Black as opposed to dark brown is a sign of late weaving. Id.
According to Loges, older examples of Yomut weaving "are generally lighter in colour than later ones." Loges, at 65. See also O'Bannon et al., Vanishing Jewels: Central Asian Tribal Weavings, at 99 In addition, the presence of turqoise is some indication of age.
In older main carpets, "diagonal rows of gols contain a deep blue alternating with green or green or blue-green." Loges, at 16.