March 9th, 2013, 01:41 PM    1

Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Laramie/Jackson Hole WY
Posts: 4

 Takyabs and other Tibetan/Mongolian animal trappings

Well I have started. On a recent trip to Asia, I now realize many trappings originally thought to come from Tibet really come from Mongolia. I purchased a few pieces from a trader and there was no question his comments make me believe what I purchased came from Mongolia. Also have purchased in Tibet and Nepal.

March 9th, 2013, 02:02 PM    2
Jeff Sun  Members

Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 6
Interesting. Why does the trader think they are Mongolian?

Pictures please!

Of the takyabs I have, there is only one made with a Mongolian knot and it is clearly discernible from the Tibetan style of knotting. The chosen dyes also closely resemble those in a Baotao/Mongolian rug than those in Tibetan pieces. See below:

The "black" field of the rug is really a saturated navy usually found in Baotao carpets.
March 9th, 2013, 02:21 PM    3

Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Laramie/Jackson Hole WY
Posts: 4
The trader was Mongolian and that's where they were purchased. Makes sense nomads can wonder and trade across open borders. I will post a few pics tonight. I need to send to Steve as I have yet to post pics on my own. All I have are constructed with Tibetan knot except for one band.

arch 10th, 2013, 09:23 AM   4

Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Laramie/Jackson Hole WY
Posts: 4
Takyabs come in different forms. Here are Examples of 3….embroidery, appliqué and pile. As I understand they we used as decoration on the lead animal of a pack train. I have seen pictures of them on yaks and horses. Many contain Buddhist symbols and may have been used to protect those making the long journeys across the wide expanse of Tibet and Mongolia? I have also seen them on animals in and around Tibetan encampments. I also added a few more for reference. Some of the same symbols found on Takyabs are also found on other trapping. I will add a few bands on my next post.

 March 10th, 2013, 09:49 AM    5

Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Laramie/Jackson Hole WY
Posts: 4
Bands sometimes also depict the same symbols found on Takyabs. The first is flatwoven, and the next 2 are piled. The band with the bull’s eye design is interesting because it is similar to the colored hair ornaments found on many yaks. The last is very unusual. While the picture only shows a portion of the band, it is complete. About 5 feet long and 5 inches wide, it’s construction is not the normal Tibetan knot but the same knot used when weaving the Trukdruk type pieces. One might have thought it would have been used in that type of rug but this piece is complete in every way with complete sides and ends. This piece is like no other I have ever seen.

March 10th, 2013, 08:48 PM    7

Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 6
As Glenn has stated, takyabs are usually attached to the head of animals,usually the lead pack animal in a caravan. Partly to provide good luck via an auspicious symbol, and partly just for insulation. Think of them as a "Horse Hat". The English term would be "Pelmet".

As a very utilitarian textile, most extant examples tend to be newish. They're used, abused...and discarded. Think about it: Horses stick their noses into everything...scratch ing on posts and rocks...other horses...feedbags and dipping their heads into rivers and troughs. And then of course there are the insects which accompany any animal. All will rapidly degrade a small piece of fabric.

So most examples out there tend to be in rough shape and look like this:

So, many of the takyabs you come across may be in bad shape. But some will be in excellent shape. Like the one below. If so, there is a good chance they were never used. This one still has the warp and weft with which is was cut from the loom.

Although, I've never seen a takyab woven, my feeling is that because they are basically an expendable item, and because they are so small, they lend themselves to be "mass" produced. Look at it this way: You are talking about a piece of rug that is usually less than 1ft by 1ft. A weaver can probably produce 15 of these in the same time it would take to make a standard 5ft X 3ft Khaden sleeping rug. Why WOULDN'T you "mass" produce them?

Take a look at the following photo of takyabs I recently acquired:

You'll notice that most (center excepted) of the animal faced takyabs around the outside are drawn in a similar style and have similar dyes. Also, I have two additional animal faced takyabs in the SAME style. Other animal faced takyabs occasionally come up on Rugrabbit and elsewhere...also in the SAME style. In fact there is one on the cover of Kuloy's book on Tibetan Carpets. I 'm pretty much convinced they all came off the same loom. Point: Mass production.

As you might have guessed, "One of these things is not like the others". The takyab in the center of the group is silk embroidery on wool.

The shape, is typically that of a "Horse Face" or more accurately a "Goat Face" due to the horns. Not sure how this originated, but of course, Yaks, a common beast of burden in Tibet, due sport horns. Sheep, in past times were often used to haul salt (and themselves) to Nepal. It's speculation really. Other shapes such as circles or "sleeve" designs have been depicted in some books, but I have never seen them and they are certainly not as dramatic as the "Horse Face"

Of the symbols in Takyabs, there are many, but probably about 90% of them fall into a few categories:

1. Animals: See above
2. Potted Plants: The Takyab below is a fine example of a "potted" plant displaying many Auspicious fruits including a Buddah's Hand Citrus, which of course, not native to Tibet, but neither are the lotus, peony, plum blossom, or other foliage constantly appearing in Tibetan rugs. As an aside, this was the first Takyab I acquired.

3. Flaming Jewels: An important Lama-ist motif, this again, is an auspicious symbol and refers to the body, speech and mind of the Buddha.

4.Kalachakra:, or the "Ten Fold Powerful One" represents the 10 teachings of the Kalachakra Tantra. Not all Buddhism in Tibet is Tantric Buddhism. Far from it. But here is a symbol from one of the Tantric branches.

Now as to materials:

1. Piled: Most of the Takyab collector's are likely to see are piled. And like most Tibetan rugs, if they are piled, they will be wool on cotton warp and weft and occasionally wool warp and weft, which can be an indicator of age...or of nomadic origin. Nomads still exist in Tibet, but they have been a minority for centuries. Dyes can be natural, synthetic or mixed. Pure natural dyes are quite rare, but in my opinion often look muddy.

2. Embroidery: Other than the one that Glenn posted, and the one that I posted above, I have only seen one other example. Mine is not strictly Tibetan, having been acquired via Nepal. The other example (not pictured) originated in Bhutan. So of the three examples known two me, two come from the south side of the Himalayas, and therefore this leads me to believe they may not be stricly Tibetan. The material of mine is a red wool felt field with silk embroidery

3. Felted or Applique: I don't have one of these, but I must say, Glenn's looks nice:.

4. Other: Believe it or not, while in Lhasa I saw a Takyab made of Lace. Probably the last sort of material you'd want to put to such an intense usage,...and it showed. I suspect if you looked hard enough you'd also find leather Takyabs and other more exotic materials as well.

5. There is another category which isn't really a material: Salvage. It seems a fair amount of Takyabs are just simply cut from other worn out carpets. Of the ones depicted below, #6 and #9 are both salvage. Some of these can be so well executed you would not know they aren't a dedicated weaving. Others...not so much.

I should also point out that Takyabs 3 and 4 above are a matched pair...more evidence of "mass" production.

Are takyabs made outside of Tibet? I would think that vast, vast majority are made there. The construction motifs and dyes are all consistent with Tibetan weaving practices. But there is always an exception: The embroidered pieces sited above come from outside Tibet. I have Pakistani friends who tell me that in Kashmir and other alpine Pakistani states you can also find similar items. Now you can argue that these regions are "culturally" Tibetan, and for sure you would be correct, in a matter of degrees. But then there is this piece below, which is not made using any Tibetan technique, but is made using Mongolian knotting and dyes and appears to be a dedicated piece.

Of course, there has long been religious and commercial pilgrimage between Mongolia and Tibet, so it should really be no surprise. Just like there are plenty of Honda Motorcycles in the US, a casual tour of Japan will reveal more than a few Harley Davidson's. Trade typically goes both ways. So here is a Mongolian takyab for Tibet.

As an aside, in 2008 I posted some pictures of an antique saddle store in HoHot Mongolia...I can't find the post anymore....but it would be interesting to note that ALL of the saddle rugs in that particular shop were Tibetan, rather than the more usually seen Mongolian rugs. Any chance of locating that?

Last edited by Jeff Sun; March 10th, 2013 at 10:55 PM.

March 12th, 2013, 04:48 PM    7
Vincent Keers

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Last edited by Vincent Keers; March 19th, 2013 at 07:46 PM.

March 13th, 2013, 04:37 AM    8

Join Date: May 2008
Location: Cyprus
Posts: 79
Hi Jeff,
You are right. Your post mysteriously disappeared from "Traveler's Reports".
Here are your images, anyway.


March 13th, 2013, 09:34 PM    9

Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 6 not all Tibetan as I remembered. Oh well!

You'll notice the longish saddle rugs with the narrow saddles in the second photo. Those are for camels.

Thanks Filberto!