The Salon du Tapis d'Orient is a moderated discussion
group in the manner of the 19th century salon devoted to oriental
rugs and textiles and all aspects of their appreciation. Please
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Design Interpretation in Turkomen Rugs
One of the most interesting and provocative papers presented
at the 8th ICOC in Philadelphia was that given by Jim Allen about
the possibility of three dimensional figures in a Salor chuval.
I have not heard a more imaginative and insightful discussion
of the designs in Turkomen rugs. Whether one agrees with Jim
or not, he must be given credit for seeing things and interpreting
devices that we glance over as commonplace. His interpretations
require some work on the part of the viewer, but that effort
can be rewarding when considering the ethnographic history of
these tribes. I have been taken by Jim's thinking because of
his vast knowledge of the history of these people and his extensive
reading from ancient sources. Because of this I have asked Jim
to present this discussion topic in order to give all of us some
practice in seeing common images in another (perhaps correct)
The Leopard Gul Torba
There is a rare type of Turkomen weaving, often Tekke, which
uses a variation of the Salor octagonal gul. This ancient Salor
Gul is the prototype for the lobed gul found on Arabatchi chuvals
and Tekke main carpets. These diverse octagonal guls are given
over to the representation of a khan's hunting privilege, and
thus reflects his power.
"The great khan uses many leopards and lynxes for the
purpose of chasing deer.
It is a rare sight, when the cat is let loose in pursuit of
the game, to see the
Savage eagerness and speed with which he overtakes it. The
khan has them
Carried in cages on carts, along with a little dog, with which
familiar. The khan also has eagles that are trained to catch
wolves, and such is
their size and strength that none, however large, can escape
from their talons."
It is easy to see why a Tekke khan would want to associate
himself with such a glorious past.
The octagonal gul pictured below represents a hunting cat
standing over game. This is the dominant white form. The secondary
small boxes define three legs and a tail while a triangle defines
the head of the leopard which is standing over downed game.
There are maybe 4 to 6 of the smaller 2x3 gul trappings and
three known to me of the larger 3x4 gul trappings. They can be
seen in Loges' Turkomen carpets (German) (fig. 7), in Eiland's
Oriental Rugs from Pacific collections (fig. 116), and in Vanishing
Jewels (the Amstey collection) (fig. 51). There is one other
3x4 octagonal gul trapping in Oriental Rugs of the Hajji Babbas
(fig. 41) which is not as tightly woven as these Tekke masterpieces;
its gul represents a horse.
The white image of the cat is interdigitated with that of
an eagle. On the opposite axis from the cat is a galloping horse
in the field color framed by the white aspects of the chemche
gul. This conjunction of the great khan's hunting animals designates
that a fine weaving of this type is the property of a great khan.
Nobody else would have been allowed to show them.
1. Polo, Marco. The Travels of Marco Polo in Collection of
Biography and Autobiography, M. Rugoff, ed. New American Library,
NYC. 1986. P.118