TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  Pentagonal weavings
Author  :  Yon Bard
Date  :  02-27-2000 on 09:31 a.m.
Just a few details to add to Steve's introduction: 1. In addition to pentagonal asmalyks, there are heptagogonal ones which are less common, though not really rare. 2. Ersari asmalyks come up occasionally, always heptagonal; and there are also Arabachi ones, again heptagonal. 3. Among Yomud asmalyks, one should mention the white, yellow, or red-ground tree asmalyks, which are the rarest and most desirable, and quite different from the usual tree asmalyk illustrated by Steve. 4. One should also mention the Tekke animal-tree asmalyks, rather similar to the bird ones and perhaps even rarer. 4. It seems to me unlikely that knee-asmalyks and comb-bags are related. The former have invariably the ashik design, which is different from the comb-bag design illustrated by steve. Regards, Yon

Subject  :  RE:Pentagonal weavings
Author  :  Steve Price
Date  :  02-27-2000 on 11:42 a.m.
sprice@hsc.vcu.edu Dear Yon, My personal take on the heptagonal asmalyks is that they are formally similar to the pentagons and of common derivation. In each case you can describe the overall form as a triangle atop a rectangle. In the pentagon, the triangle and the rectangle have the same width; in the heptagon the triangle is narrower than the rectangle. Like you, I don't think I've ever seen knee covers in any pattern except the ashik. I've only seen one comb bag (the one in my essay) and a photo of one other, on p. 40 of Wie Blumen in der Wuste. That one has the ashik design, and if the faces were cut apart they would almost certainly be called knee covers in the marketplace. As an aside, when first shown to me, neither I nor the seller had any idea what the comb cover was, and we thought it might be a tea cozy. Regards, Steve

Subject  :  RE:Pentagonal weavings
Author  :  JimAllen
Date  :  02-27-2000 on 03:49 p.m.
<P>Here is a "tri-color" "tree" or "arrow feather" Yomud asmalyk with an extremely old looking back and a very tight weave, approximately 200 KSI. I beleve the tri-color examples are usually the oldest. I have not seen a red or blue background example that felt old to me. White ground examples are found among the very oldest examples. I believe that the yomud chose the pentagonal shape because the Tekke and Salor, the previous dominant tribes, had used rectangular wedding trappings. The Yomud were semi-settled at Khiva at this time and they had the wealth to make such extravagently useless weavings. Historically the pentagonal shape had been used to designate the Khans animal during the great hunts and this had been the routine for centuries. I say this because I translate the bird asmalyks' iconography as meaning the great hunt, or to the great hunt. This alludes to the all important rites of passge expected of young Turkoman men as they demonstrated their mastery of the zen of archery atop a well controlled horse during a controlled round up of game. It was on such a hunt that Ghenghis Khan fell from his horse and split his liver. In evidence that the pentagonal shape was novel to the Yomud in the mid 18th cxentury look at how almost all the early examples fail to make the pattern meet squarely in the apex of the triangle. They never make this mistake in a late piece. Jim Allen

Subject  :  RE:Pentagonal weavings
Author  :  Marvin Amstey
Date  :  02-27-2000 on 05:16 p.m.
mamstey1@rochester.rr.com What is the "tri" in this tricolor asmalyk? I see only a red and a blue ground for each tree; or is the border ground the third color? Regards, Marvin

Subject  :  RE:Pentagonal weavings
Author  :  JimAllen
Date  :  02-27-2000 on 09:10 p.m.
Bad picture, it didn't show that the central column is a different red completely from the lateral red columns. Jim

Subject  :  RE:Pentagonal weavings
Author  :  Christoph+Huber
Date  :  02-28-2000 on 03:10 p.m.
huber-ch@pilatusnet.ch Dear Jim With great interest Iíve read ĒHistorically the pentagonal shape had been used to designate the Khans animal during the great hunts and this had been the routine for centuries.ď which was part of your previous post. With this you suggest an origin for asmalyks which is unrelated to the Turkmen wedding-ceremony and one which isnít so far away from my speculation in the previous salon. Perhaps Jerry is already checking his asmalyks for damages caused by boars and lions instead of arrows and lances and I hope he can tell us more in the near future But to be more seriously again, I think miniatures, wall-paintings, sculptures or even oral traditions could here be a more rewarding source of information than actual weavings. Regards, Christoph

Subject  :  RE:Pentagonal weavings
Author  :  Steve Price
Date  :  02-28-2000 on 05:44 p.m.
/sprice@hsc.vcu.edu Dear Jim, Your statement about pentagons representing the great khan's animals during the hunt looks as though it may generate some followup and speculation. Before it goes too far afield, might I ask what the source of this information is? I think it would be helpful to have people (including me) have a look at what it's all about, if possible, before diving in with what it might mean. Regards, Steve Price

Subject  :  RE:Pentagonal weavings
Author  :  Stephen+Louw
Date  :  02-29-2000 on 06:08 a.m.
slouw@global.co.za Jim, I was taken by your point that asmalyk's are likily to be the result of a semi-settled people, with the "wealth to make such extravagently useless weavings." Whether this is demonstrable or not is a big question, but it certainly sounds plausible. What worries me is your earlier remark that the Yomud "chose the pentagonal shape because the Tekke and Salor, the previous dominant tribes, had used rectangular wedding trappings." Perhaps you can expand on this. Where is the evidence? And does this draw on the dominant/defeated tribal gul theory? Regards Stephen Louw

Subject  :  RE:Pentagonal weavings
Author  :  JimAllen
Date  :  02-29-2000 on 08:28 p.m.
The Bird asmalyks, if you have seen a few of them, are obviously representative of a very long tradition. The McCoy Jones example is huge and fit for an elephant. Fact is the Khans used elephants for many centuries and were still using them well into the 19th century. The border of all Bird asmalyks is a trumpeting elephant, the figure in white. On page 212 in Turkoman Studies Pinner posts an ideogram from the Shang dynasty meaning "to hunt". I know I hear the groans , like Mr. XXXXXX and his designs across the millenium I am making an untenable association. Ideograms spring from the well spring of experience. Early Sumerian cuniform script on clay tablets shows great association with the subject of a particular iconogram. This is the way ideographic representation always begins, with gross similarity yielding to greater and greater abstraction with the subconscious and geometric growth of the syntax of the evolving language. The limitations of the medium, weaving, has kept the ideographic language of the nomads cogent across millenium, it is just that simple. The iconography of Bird asmalyks means "TO HUNT". The great annual or semiannual hunt was the male rite of passage and no less an affair then the marriage of a young damsel. The fact that the Khan , the great orchestrator of the event , would be mounted atop a spectacularily decorated animal is without question. After all the Turkoman used their weavings to signal their personal information, identification, to others at a distance and silently, how very "Indian like" of them! Pinner I believe was the first to correlate the fineness of weave and the personalization of each individual Tekke torba to posit that they were the equivalent of an asmalyk in their own society. Jim Allen

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