Posted by Stephen Louw on 11-05-2002 12:01 PM:

Ertman Torba: Chodor or Yomut?

Hi all,

Leslie Pinner (Hali 2(4), 1980) once raised the important question of whether torba with the ertman gul but with typically Yomut structure (symmetrical knots and woollen wefts) were more appropriately classified as Chodor or Yomut. She concluded that the evidence was unpersuasive, and that we were unlikely ever to make any persuasive attribution. More likely, she suggested, "the torbas belong to a group which must stem from an area where, and from a period when, the opportunity was given for the interaction of Chodor design and Yomut technique" (p.288).

I just bought this torba -- incidently, my first "fragment" -- which, based on its design and colour scheme, I assumed was Chodor, but on inspection is structurally Yomut.

Perhaps someone might be able to offer, or point me in the direction of, more recent opinion on the design/structure relationship pertaining to ertman torba. Generally I find Pinner's (non-essentialist, common sense) idea that different peoples lived in close proximity with each other and shared designs convincing, but wondered if there was any alternative literature on the specific interaction of the Yomut and Chodor peoples.

Thanks in advance

Posted by Steve Price on 11-05-2002 12:13 PM:

Hi Stephen,

Chodor wool is generally rougher to the touch than Yomud wool, so this might help. I doubt that there is a definitive answer to your question, though.

Just to muddy the water a little more: the Ersari also used this design.


Steve Price

Posted by R. John Howe on 11-05-2002 04:27 PM:

Stephen -

Are you saying that the knot on this piece is symmetric?

Steve -

Yes, the Ersari make a version of this gul but I think not this one. Ersari ertman guls that I have seen have different internal features in the ertman guls shown full. The Ersari usages I have seen tend to use the version of the ertmen guls shown full in Stephen's piece only in a half-gul position and show a different version as their full gul. There is an example in Hans Elmby's third catalog, as Plate 48, the very last image.

In the first of his four catalogs in Plate 23, Elmby shows a very similar piece to Stephen's with an asymmetric knot and unhesitatingly calls is Chodor

I think the choice is between Chodor and Yomut.


R. John Howe

Posted by Stephen Louw on 11-05-2002 04:41 PM:

-- yes, the knots on my piece are symmetrical, much like fig. 3 in the Pinner article (I dont have the Elmby catalogues), and the wefts are wool, not cotton

-- The Pinner article also suggested that the Yomut wool tended to be of a different quality, as you suggest, not as rough. I have limited first hand experience with Chodor pieces, so I wont hazzard a guess as to how my torba shapes up.

I think, design wise, my torba is quite different to the ersari variants I have seen.

Thanks for the comments


Posted by Wendel Swan on 11-06-2002 10:13 AM:

Dear Stephen and all,

Since I am unable to resolve the apparent contradiction between structure and design that would help you pick Chodor or Yomud, let me add to the confusion.

As is already clear from this thread, variations of the ertman gul can be found among the weavings of several groups. Following is an image of a battered and somewhat fragmentary chuval face that has one version of the ertman gul. Robert Pinner refers to it as Ersari and it has also been called Kizil Ayak, but never Chodor.

The ikat-style zigzags and the rosettes in the border are both usually associated with work of the Ersari, but no design is ever definitive. A few years ago, Elena Tsareva provided the metric structural analysis and a possible attribution to the Salor; however, Salor doesn't seem probable to me.

"Chuval bag face.
Middle Amu Darya. Salor(?) 18th century or earlier.
Warp: wool, ivory, mixed with some brown goat hair; Z2S.
Weft: 2 shoots; wool(?), light brown-red, Z2, and mixed brown and white, Z1. Rather loose shooting, so that you can easily see wefts on the back.
Pile: wool, very fine, Z2S and some Z4S (cherry-red). Knot - as open left, slightly depressed. Knot density - 32--36(h.) x 44-48 = 1.408 - 1.728 (1 : 1,3).
Colors (10) : cherry-red, violet-red, orange-red, yellow, brown, dark-blue, mid-blue, green-blue, turquoise, ivory.
Finish: no original finish."

Wendel Swan

Posted by Steve Price on 11-06-2002 10:17 AM:

Hi Wendel,



Steve Price

Posted by Wendel_Swan on 11-06-2002 11:56 AM:

Hi Steve,

Remember that Salor was not my attribution. If I had only seen the image on a monitor, as you have, I would also have dismissed the Salor attribution. With the advantage of having handled the piece, I can state that it doesn’t feel or look anything like a Salor either. What can I say?

Elena has subsequently referred to the chuval as Ersari, but her notes are precisely as she wrote them. I cannot explain what possessed her to write "S-a-l-o-r."


Posted by Marvin Amstey on 11-06-2002 04:48 PM:

Hi folks,
I have what I am convinced is a very old Kizil Ayak torba with "perfect" Ertman guls - birds heads and all. Stephen, I would rely on Pinner and the fact that the knot is symmetrical and call it "Yomud".

Posted by Bob Emry on 11-06-2002 11:06 PM:

Stephen et al:
In the book "Oriental Rugs, Vol.5, Turkoman, by Uwe Jourdan (page 212, figure 179) is a picture of a torba that appears to be very closely similar to Stephen's piece shown at the beginning of this thread--same borders, same two-gul format, etc. Jourdan's caption says that the torba "although very similar in design to the Chodor pair illustrated as number 228, has wool wefts and regular symmetric knotting, a structure which indicates a Yomut origin."
So, Stephen, you might want to check the composition of the wefts too. If the wefts are wool, it might be further evidence of Yomut attribution.
Bob Emry

Posted by R. John Howe on 11-07-2002 08:10 AM:

Stephen -

Mr. Lavergne is correct. I misread Elmby's knot indication. He does say "chodor" and "symmetric" knot. His one sentence commentary (page 7) in Danish does say something about about "Yomud" and "symmetric knot" but I can't read it.

Stimulated by Bob Emry's indication about wefts I went back and refreshed my memory of what Thompson says about Chodor weaving.

"...All pieces have a Persian knot open to the right, and most have a distinctive two-ply weft which is best described as part cotton. This means that cotton is used irregularly: sometimes one strand is plied with a strand of brown wool; sometimes both strands are cotton and sometimes both are wool."

Stephen can we assume that your indication that the structure of your piece is Yomut also indicates that there is no trace of cotton in its wefts?


R. John Howe

Posted by Philippe_Lavergne on 11-07-2002 04:49 PM:

Chodor or Yomud?

Editor's note: I originally posted this message outside our forum, with a link to it in this thread. I don't think many people noticed it, so I am placing it here in toto. Steve Price

I have thought very much about this difference: for me, the knots are important, and also the appearance of this kind of bird in the gol.

At the first sight: nice bird + asymmetric knot = Chodor. Nothing + symmetric knot = Yomud.

A small mistake about Elmby I plate 23 page 29:

Symmetric knot, not asymmetric (sorry, Mr. John Howe), called Chodor without comment . This rug is also in Hali (no. 77, p. 107) and Hoffmeister (27 p. 74), discussed as Yomud.

The best and essential article on the subject is, "Dividing the Chodor", by Kurt Munkacsi (Hali, no. 77, pp. 97 - 107, and appendix with a table of structural variations.

Moshkova (fig. 113. p. 258), Chodor

Azadi, Wie Blumen in der Wüste, (no. 87, Pseudo-Chodor; asymmetric knot)

Oriental Rug Review (XIII, no. 5, 2635 kn/dm², no name (Ersari?)- synthetic dye

My collection: asymmetric (thus, Chodor)

My collection: good wool, very nice colours (sorry, you just have to believe me), symmetric knots, Yomud to me:

My collection (an open bag, as you can see) I think it is more recent: Asymmetric knots open right, and some symmetric knots on the edges. I believe it is Yomud, not Chodor (no birds, no colors ..)

You can see another on JBOC's Notes on Oriental Rugs. From the Thompson collection, a chodor with an Amu-Darya border, and technical elements.

Also on JBOC's Notes on Oriental Rugs, a "camel decoration".

Very confusing isn't it?



Posted by Stephen Louw on 11-08-2002 01:52 PM:

John -- Thompson also remarks, somewhere in his auction catalogue, that the absence of cotton wefts is a sign of a really old Chodor. This is clearly not the case with my piece -- which has woolen wefts, and is not that old. I am also unsure how seriously to take this claim.
Thanks all for your comments

Posted by Marvin Amstey on 11-09-2002 02:46 PM:

Hi Stephen,
Skepticism! I'm all in favor of that. Sometimes I think we take ourselves too seriously in discussing these things. Good, wool ,good color, good graphics: that's what it's all about.
Best regards.

Posted by Chuck_Wagner on 11-11-2002 05:10 AM:

Greetings All,

Here are a few images (which should have been simpler to make than they actually were) of a piece that may make an additional contribution to the confusion under review.

Based on what I read prior to this discussion I had considered it a late Chodor weaving; I think I still do, but now I'm less certain.

When looking at the white areas on the back, there is a first impression is that the red has run. But under closer examination these discolored knots appear to be dyed a very pale pink that has faded to white at the tips. There is no dye in the wefts that would contribute to a stain.

I tried rubbing the red with some alkaline water and a white cloth, and could barely get any bleeding out of it at all, rubbing quite briskly. So if the red ran (previously), it must have been during the initial wash after weaving, as it appears pretty stable at this time.

But it looks like the red is probably a synthetic, so: late 19th century.

The whole thing:

Some detail of the drawing:

Color palette, up close (note undyed browns):

Asymmetrical open to the right, rough wool:

Structural internal details, revealed to us through a skillfully installed area of substantial damage. Note rough wool mixed with hair in the warps, but a fine soft light brown wool for the weft. NO cotton visible. The wefts are clearly visible in most areas of the back:

Comments/catcalls ??


Posted by Steve Price on 11-11-2002 05:49 AM:

Hi Chuck,

My best guess is that your best guess is the right one. Most likely Chodor, most likely around 1900. With the usual caveats about the uncertainty inherent in attributions when you weren't there to see it being cut off the loom.


Steve Price