Martin Andersen 1 April 11th, 2013 03:25 AM

Large Chuval/sleeping rug, Kirghiz (?)
Hi All

While we are at the striped turkmen formats, here a large chuval/sleeping rug(?) 100 x 215 cm.

This specific rug type is generally attributed to the Kirghiz, an attribution which goes back to at least S.M. Dudin. An attribution which has always kind of seemed strange to me when aesthetically comparing to other Kirghiz material.
But when looking closer to the weave, which is very soft, uneven and open compared to the MAD pieces I have, I can see that it differs.

This piece also shows a number of peculiar fillings I haven't seen before:

The weave is very soft with an uneven kpsi around 90

The very large size to me seems way to large for chuval function as a bag, whether or not "sleeping rug" is more correct (its a suggestion from Hans Elmby) I don't know, but in this beautiful photo from Bukhara around 1900 the rug type is simple used as a rug for sitting on.


Martin Andersen 2 April 12th, 2013 10:06 PM

Hi All

I might be a bit alone with my appreciation of this specific format, but here the samples I have found on the net. The first one S.M Dudin. I suspect that the colors might not differ as much in real life as they do in these photos:

I think Hans Elmby published at least 2 in his fine small catalogs (can't find them right know but will scan them later)

best Martin

Martin Andersen 3 April 12th, 2013 11:03 PM

Some of the patterns seems directly related to the minuscule Tekke Kizil Chuval patterns

Tekke on the left, Kirghiz on the right:

The two first patterns could be said to be identical, while the third could be seen as very free development - or as a completely independent pattern (I haven't seen this pattern elsewhere)

best Martin

Wayne Anderson 4 April 13th, 2013 05:42 PM

Ersari, Eagle-gol
The relationship of striped weavings of the different Turkmen tribes
, in pile, mixed technique or flatweave, and the chuval you show is a great topic.
Moshkova shows one like yours labeled Kyrgyz

but O'Bannon comments that Moshkova collected it in an Ersari area and that she attributed it to the Ersari. They also illustrate a pile Ersari chuval with stripes.

Here is a pile Ersari chuval from Reed with gurbaka design stripes like yours and the kizik chuval you show, as well as a similar center stripe.

This is a soumak chuval that I attribute to the Ersari group. At 69 x 45 inches it is a little smaller that yours.

It has the same center stripe and smaller stripe as a kizil chuval but does not have the gurbaka design. I have never seen the gurbaka design except in pile.

There is a pile kizil chuval with larger stripes in the Thompson catalog.

There is a striped pile chuval on the cover of Wie Blumen attributed to the Eagle-gol group III.

It as well has two gurbaka design stripes, but a different center stripe.
John Taylor's blog, G-Town Dairy,, has several more striped pile chuvals attributed to the Eagle-gol group.

I have a hard time imagining where, when, in what medium the Turkmen and the Kyrgyz got their stripes.

Martin Andersen 5 April 14th, 2013 01:12 AM

Hi Wayne

Thanks for all the comparable material. And yes surely, as with all the Turkmen rugs the combination of uniform conservatism and small variations within the groups trickers the urge for categorizing.

According to Tzareva ( ) S.M Dudin purchased his sample in 1901 and labeled it "Fergana woolen rug", and Tzareva adds this :

At first glance one can be misled to think that it is Ersari, but further investigation shows that the piece was made by the Kirghiz. The reasons for this conclusion are: the information for such attribution was received from the local population26; in appearance the rug presents a different feeling than Ersari rugs, e.g. slightly faded colors, and a common impression of a loose and uneven pile which is usual for Kirghiz carpets; and the comparison with Ersari juvals of similar composition shows immediately the difference both in drawing of the ornaments and technical peculiarities.
25. The Kirghiz population of the Ferghana Valley is not uniform in structure. It is composed of representatives of two main Kirghiz tribal groups -- Ong and Sol (Right Wing and Left Wing), -- and a separate group, Ichkilik, composed of survivors from many other tribes of varied origin. The membership of this group includes the clans Kandy (Kangly), Tyueles, Tent, Naiman, Kesek, Naighut, Yapalak, Kipchak, Avat, and some others which indicates the ancient age of many separate ethnic elements which entered the group. See Aristov, N. A., Zivaya Stiarina, 1894, Issue Ill-IV, p. 45; Moshkova, V. G., loc. cit., p. 86.
26. Two other pieces of the same type belonging to the SME and one to the SH are attributed to the Kirghiz as they were purchased in Kirghiz villages as local production.

Here another sample found on the net, Christies auction size 218 x 104 cm:

The very large size of the Kirghiz/Kyrgyz striped rugs is one thing which immediately sets them apart from the other turkmen striped rugs. And Elmbys suggestion of them being sleeping rugs seems fair taking their softness and body size into account - actually sleeping blanket might also be right, one could easily imagine sleeping comfortable under them instead of on them :)

best Martin

Rich Larkin 6 April 15th, 2013 10:17 AM

Hi Martin,

I'll toss a ringer in here. This mixed pile/flat double bag uses a very crude version of the principal design of your chuvals(?)/sleeping rugs(?).

Note that offset knotting is used prominently in these ones.

Without getting into it too much, I'll say they don't feel like any Turkoman material with which I am familiar. I have less experience with significant volumes of the quasi-Turkoman stuff (Kirghiz, etc.), but they don't suggest any of those venues to me either.

I don't know how much this set adds to (or detracts from!) your inquiry, but there it is.



Martin Andersen 7 April 16th, 2013 03:05 AM

Hi Rich
Interesting bag, all the patterns and colors seem derived from turkmen aesthetics, but I agree it doesnt look turkmen at all. I have seen slightly similar bags labeled as "Veramin", but I have no idea if that could be the case here, probably not
best Martin

Martin Andersen 8 April 16th, 2013 11:54 PM

It might be tempting to think that the beautiful and refined Eagle gol or Tekke striped chuvals inspired other groups to make their own versions of this design. But actually the specific drawing of the eight pointed star and the "Kurbaghe" gol to me kind of suggest that this is not the case.
Here the Tekke compared to the Kirgihz:

The highly compressed and flatten drawing of the Tekke version of the patterns, especially the small squared intersections, would hardly have been "decompressed" in a direct copy of the pattern. To me a common older source, probably now lost, seems more likely.

best Martin

Martin Andersen 9 April 17th, 2013 01:10 AM

On the other hand there for me surely is a very interesting element of mimetic copying on some of the Kirgizh striped rugs. An element which relates them directly to the chuval function as bags, and that is the upper top pattern:

This type of pattern we also know from for example Yomut chuvals (where the pattern is more segregated into singular motifs), and it is conventionally interpreted as a formalized depiction of a closure system for the bags. Of course an interpretation, but I find it plausible and fascinating. In the history of architecture slidings like this between function and image/ornament is referred to as "tectonic representations", which might occur when for example a tectonic feature from wooden structure is carried along into a stone structure as purely ornamental.

best Martin

Lloyd Kannenberg 10 April 17th, 2013 10:07 PM

Hello Martin,

The border element you show is common on large Shemaka Shirvan kilims. I'll see if I can find some pictures. Nooter's "Flatwoven Rugs and Textiles from the Caucasus" almost certainly has some examples, and I think there may also be one or two in Jim Burns' "The Caucasus: Traditions in Weaving".

Best wishes,

Lloyd Kannenberg

Lloyd Kannenberg 11 April 18th, 2013 12:30 PM

I think one example will suffice:

It's big --- 68.5"x143" --- and the field design is called Pashaly after the village where Latif Kerimov thought it originated.

Lloyd Kannenberg

Martin Andersen 12 April 21st, 2013 02:02 AM

Hi Lloyd and All

The zigzag upper pattern is of course a very simple and generic pattern, and whether or not its related to a depiction of closure systems is of course a matter of interpretation.
Here an example of the Yomut singular closure motif:

And here together with the small guard stripes which to me also seems like a pile woven marking of the closure system, perhaps somehow repeating the braided strings:

And from a back of a Yomut chuval with a fragment of the real closure system:

Here a less common version of a similar pattern from a Kizil Ayak Chuval:

In my Kirgizh piece I find that the additional small fork motif sustains an interpretation towards a depiction of the closure (or hanging) system:

best Martin

Martin Andersen 13 April 21st, 2013 02:51 AM

Perhaps this pattern could be said to be the most distinctive pattern of the kirgizh striped rugs. Its very consistent on all the samples I have found, and I haven't really seen this specific pattern on other weavings:

The "blocky" layout, where multiple knots are used for drawing the lines, to me also kind of suggest a mimetic aspect of this pattern. Something similar to what I think is seen in for example Ersari/Beshir transference of Ikat patterns to pile weaving. Another speculative connection could perhaps be ceramic tile brick patterns.

If any of you have seen this specific pattern on other weaving material I would much appreciate to see it, I certainly may have overlooked something.

best Martin

Steve Price 14 April 21st, 2013 08:11 AM

Hi All

Is there any documentation that the two or three so-called closure markers on Yomud juvals were really closure markers? I don't recall seeing any Yomud juvals with the closure ropes intact, and the few Tekke juvals with intact closure ropes neither had "closure markers" nor closed at only two or three points.

Maybe Yomud men were too stupid to figure out how to close juvals without prominent arrows pointing to the places where the ropes interlace, but I'm skeptical about that.


Steve Price

Martin Andersen 15 April 21st, 2013 01:30 PM

Hi Steve

I am curious too on how the closure or hanging system actually looked. If the the closure system have been the norm then they sure seem to have been systematically removed on the main bulk of the chuvals, perhaps on account of them been worn and in bad condition (something similar seem to have happened to the fringes of for example the Tekke). But found these two samples in an older turkotek tread


Steve Price 16 April 21st, 2013 03:03 PM

Hi Martin

They're markers for ropes, alright. Not clear to me how those ropes would work as closures. More likely for supporting juvals standing against a yurt wall or hanging as tent or animal trappings.


Steve Price

Martin Andersen 17 April 21st, 2013 07:05 PM

Hi Steve

There is also this example, which seems to illustrate some kind of closure system related to the markers

But I agree that the Chuvals and Torbas ambiguity between being utilitarian bags and trappings is interesting. And could make one suggest that not only the closure markers are mimetic pictorial, but the weavings as a whole actually to some degree were symbolic depictions of bags rather than functionally bags :)


Martin Andersen 18 April 25th, 2013 05:49 AM

Hi All

Here are two published samples from Hans Emby's Antique Turkemen Carpets I&IV (can't find no II&III)

In my other books I haven't found any, if you have seen any I would much appreciate a scan or a reference, this tread could kind of sum up whats published of this specific format.

best Martin

Patrick Weiler 19 April 28th, 2013 03:50 PM

One of the designs being discussed in this thread is that of the narrow stripe designs in Tekke kizil chuvals.
I notice a similarity to Baluch Stars and Bars border designs. Tom Cole mentioned the relation between the Baluch version of the Stars and Bars motif and much earlier Anatolian prototypes.
It may have been part of an Anatolian medallion which found its way into a border design. Take, for example, the Large Pattern Holbein seen in Wikipedia.
You can click on the image, then click again to magnify. You will see this Stars and Bars design surrounding the inside of the medallions.
Compare this to the top image in your post #8 from April 16th, 2013 08:54 PM below. A star with two bars to either side, alternating with what looks like a Chemche minor gul.

Conclusive evidence that an Anatolian maiden was spirited off to Turkmenistan? Wow, sex and intrigue. Who would guess the Rug world was so fascinating?

Patrick Weiler

Martin Andersen 20 April 28th, 2013 06:47 PM

Hi Patrick

Interesting stars in the Holbein. The eight pointed stars with dotted ends is something I normally would associate with Ersari/Beshir.

Holbein stars

Ersari/Beshir stars

The bars and squares between the stars in the Holbein looks to me simply like fillers shaped by the geometry of the stars. The fillers in the Turkmen stripe patterns are a bit more complex, but still fillers.

And the Baluch sure also were fund of the specific eight pointed star/gurbaghe (or chemsche) pattern.

I suppose everyones agree that there are lots of old design connections between Anatolia and the Turkmen rugs. A good example is the Kochanak border, which to me seem far to specific to be independent developments. If this is related to ancient turkic common origin (and now lost rugs) or for example continuous or random trade is probably hard to tell. Surely lots of small design mysteries to look into, perhaps the eight pointed star entered the Baluch design pool via the pattern we are looking at here?

best Martin

Pierre Galafassi 21April 29th, 2013 02:48 AM

I suppose everyones agree that there are lots of old design connections between Anatolia and the Turkmen rugs.

Hi Martin, Patrick:

When one remembers that most major conquerors and lasting rulers of Anatolia during the past ten centuries (including the Seldjuk-, Akh Koyunlu-, Kara Koyunlu- and Ottoman-clans) where actually Oghuz Turkmen, offspring of the same large Turkik tribe of which the Salor and G˘klen for example were already important components around the ninth century, one can even be surprised that close similarities between Anatolian- and Turkmen rugs are not even much more obvious and frequent.

A fact which, IMHO, speaks for a strong and lasting influence of indigenous populations of carpet weavers: Armenians of course, but probably also other ethnic groups like Kurds, Georgians (in the North East), Persians (in the East) etc...
Additionally it could be also due to the well known talent of Turkik tribes for quick assimilation of the civilization of conquered populations and their age-old habit of relocating population of conquered clans and cities from one corner of Asia to the others.


Martin Andersen 22 April 29th, 2013 03:56 AM

You are right Pierre, very good point, never thought about it that way around 
best Martin

Martin Andersen 23 April 29th, 2013 05:05 AM

Hi All

I just found another sample on the net. Described like this "Early 19th c. Ersari? Kizyl Chuval > Thin, fine, floppy." (the dating of course being a probably rather optimistic guestimate)

This brings the total I have found, including my own, up to 9 samples. There are of course more out there, I suspect labeled as Mad or Ersari.

best Martin

Martin Andersen 24 April 29th, 2013 06:04 AM

Regarding the eight pointed star and the Baluch here is a bag which to me looks old with both the singular star and the star/gurbaghe pattern

best Martin

Frederik May 25 April 29th, 2013 04:22 PM


Originally Posted by Martin Andersen (Post 14082)
Hi All

I just found another sample on the net. Described like this "Early 19th c. Ersari? Kizyl Chuval > Thin, fine, floppy." (the dating of course being a probably rather optimistic guestimate)

[This brings the total I have found, including my own, up to 9 samples. There are of course more out there, I suspect labeled as Mad or Ersari.

best Martin

Hello Martin and all,

I really like these Chuvals. The design of the bands sometimes looks really nice. In my oppinion the most important thing about these pieces is how sophisticated the design is realized. The size does not really matter here. I have the impression that the designs are better executed on the smaller pieces with a more or less typical Chuval sitze around 150 cm to 180 cm in width. The good pieces of this kind show great Beshir / Ersari colors. This helps concerning the attribution in my opinion. I have not seen many or any of the big ones with very good drawing or colors.


Martin Andersen 26 April 30th, 2013 07:57 AM

Hi Frederik

I find size actually is a big issue in these related striped Turkmen rugs, here an approximate comparison between a Tekke, Ersari and the Kirghiz:

I don't have the measurement on all the 9 Kirghiz pieces in this tread, but i am pretty sure they are all more than 200 cm wide. Comparing whats good and bad across tribal groups is of course a matter of taste (unless we talk about synthetic colors, which I don't think is the case in any of the Kirghiz striped rugs). Personally my own Kirghiz is one the small handful of my rugs that I will never part with, its of course subjective and difficult to verbally articulate, but its drawing, texture and colors in real life have a very strong presence which for me is aesthetically spot on (and the relatively large size is probably also a part of this), but of course this is totally subjective.

best Martin

Steve Price 27 April 30th, 2013 09:20 AM


Originally Posted by Martin Andersen (Post 14085)
... but of course this is totally subjective.

Hi Martin

Sooner or later, aesthetics is subjective. That's fortunate - imagine the problems if every ruggie had identical taste!

Steve Price

Martin Andersen 28 April 30th, 2013 10:52 AM

thats true Steve, without the differences in taste and focus we would be in deep trouble - the 3 existing eagle gol group pieces wouldn't be enough to keep the discussions going and our pockets empty 
best Martin

Martin Andersen 29 May 2nd, 2013 11:01 AM

Found another one in Werner Loges Turkoman Tribal Rugs. Loges labels it as Ersari. 0,85 x 2,40 m., ca 1900

Personally I probably don't agree with his attribution, to me it seems the S.M Dudin and Tzareva sample kind of gives a strong buyers provenance to the Kirghiz Ferganna valley attribution for this type.

Unfortunately Loges doesn't provide any structural analyze whatsoever of the rug (a bit strange as all other rugs in book is provided with this)

best Martin

Martin Andersen 30 May 3rd, 2013 04:58 AM

Hi All

Then there is the question of the age of these rugs. Guestimates of age is of course a speculative area, but we have little more to hang the speculations on than usual in this, S.M Dudin bought his sample in 1901:

It seems obvious that he didn't buy a brand new rug. Looking at the wear and overall condition i would say that he in 1901 bought an old rug, or even an antique. Tzareva suggest mid 19th or earlier as a date:

Designvise Dudins sample only have one mayor different element than the rest I have found of the type. And that is the layout of the narrowest of the striped bands. On top Dudins, below my own:

In itself not a layout difference that should make Dudins sample older than the rest, the horizontal "s" or "f" design is an old an widely spread rug pattern (Loges points it back to old Anatolian rugs).

If there are no synthetic colours, I could suspect that the dating of Moskova and Loges around 1900 for their published samples is based on Dudins buying date. Or perhaps on the general reflections of Dudin, where he suggest that the Kirghiz were late adopters of pile weaving. The latter would of course be kind of a slight misunderstanding of Dudin regarding of what he meant with "late" as he obvious bought an old or even antique Kirgihiz rug in 1901.

Well its of course speculative, but I wouldn't personally hesitate guestimating my own sample as mid-19th. Not that 50 years matters much in real life, but we all know that mid-19th compared to 1900 is quite a lot more honorable in Turkmen terms :)

best Martin

Martin Andersen 31 May 6th, 2013 08:10 AM

Hi All

I am still wondering about the the relation between the other Kirghiz pile weaving material and the large Chuval/ striped rug type of this tread.
This what I suppose I would associate with Kirghiz pile weaving aesthetics:

To me aesthetically quite different from the large striped Chuvals/ sleeping rugs (perhaps apart from no. 2 and 3 from the right, memling gul and eight pointed stars could kind of fit for me, but difficult to se the details in this photo). If the striped rugs were the product of a Kirghiz subgroup in the Fergana Valley (which to my understanding traditionally have been multi-ethnic for ages) it would be rather strange if exactly this rug layout were their sole and only pile weaving product. I suppose related Kirgihz material of this sub group might also have been categorized as Ersari/Mad.

best Martin

Chuck Wagner 32 May 6th, 2013 09:04 PM

Hi Martin,

I think a few of those are from Karakalpakstan rather than Kyrgyzstan, esp. numbers 1,2,3 and 6.

Chuck Wagner

Martin Andersen 33 May 7th, 2013 01:49 PM

Hi Chuck

You sure might be right. To my understanding the devisions between Karakalpak, Uzbek and Kirghiz seems rather blurred, and ethically the Karakalpak should be closely related to Kirghiz.

best Martin

Pierre Galafassi 34 May 8th, 2013 05:59 AM


Originally Posted by Martin Andersen (Post 14131)
Hi Chuck
To my understanding the divisions between Karakalpak, Uzbek and Kirghiz seems rather blurred, and ethnically the Karakalpak should be closely related to Kirghiz.

You are surely right, Martin. They all are Turko-Mongol tribes, some claiming a purer mongol origin than others.

The Karakalpak were perhaps culturally more related to the Kazakhs, of which some clans were their closest neighbor (together with Qongrat Uzbeck- and Ata Turkmen clans) on the eastern bank of the lower Amu-darya, the banks of the Syr Darya and the eastern shore of the Aral Sea. The "real" Kirghiz lived mostly more South-East (East of upper Amu-darya, in Fergana, in the piedmont bordering the Takla-Makan etc...).

The confusion often found in rug books between Kazakhs and Kirghiz is due to the Russian habit to call the Kazakhs "Kirghiz" too, perhaps to avoid confusion with their own, ethnically unrelated, "Cossakhs".

One could surely wonder how many "Kirghiz"- or "Karakalpak" rugs were actually woven by Kazakh tribes.
Several rug experts claimed that Kazakhs did not weave rugs until the end of the ninetieth century, fully neglecting indications by early nineteenth century visitors of Transcaspian Kazakh villages, who mention that they actually saw the ladies working at it. One member of J. Abbott's escort even took weaving lessons from hilarious Kazakh maidens. (Narrative of a journey from Herat to Khiva, Moscow and St. Petersburgh. 1843. Vol I. page 259).

From the Kazakh confederations point of view, which elite (the so-called "white bones") proudly claimed a direct Mongol origin, and who picked all their rulers in the Gengis-khanid family, the Kirghiz and Karakalpak were sons of a minor god (they certainly were more loosely organized and politically weaker).
Best regards