TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  Yomut & Ersari Subgroups?
Author  :  R. John Howe mailto:%20rjhowe@erols.com
Date  :  09-09-2001 on 08:12 a.m.
Dear folks -

Jerry invites us to submit our research questions wish list.

As a Turkmen collector, it seems to me that one of the more useful questions that could be answered is what are the components of the two broad groups of weavings we currently cover with the terms "Yomut" and "Ersari." In both cases we acknowledge that these terms are used to point at items that often have a considerable range of variation.

And some beginning work is being done.

Items once simply called Yomut are now referred to be some on what they feel is a defensible basis as, the "eagle" group, or the "fine brown" group. And one finds some who apparently feel tha they can apply terms like "Atabai," "Jaffarbai,"Ogurjali," "Goklan" and even the infamous "Imerili" (a well-known rug figure, told me a year or two ago that Jon Thompson privately still holds with this much-derided latter attribution of his).

Similarly, with the Ersari group. (Someone said to me once that "No one has ever seen an Ersari." clearly suggesting that the grouping is projected by scholars rather than experienced by the natives.) Kizil Ayak is often thought an Ersari subgroup but sometimes not. Robert Pinner and Elena Tzareva may soon propose the range of pieces to which the term "Beshiri" should be applied. Where does Burdalyk fit in? How about Arabatchi? Some seem to follow Moskova to say that it's an Ersari subgroup but even more hold that it is not. Eiland has more than hinted that pieces that seem to fit into the "S-group" were not only woven after 1850 (when the Salors are reputed by some to have ceased weaving) but were been produced in Ersari country. There seem to be lots of Saryk weavers there too. And since the Middle Amu Dyra has the footprints of many Turkmen groups, how do we distinguish the rugs made by various tribal weavers in that area? And what, after all, is an "Ata" weaving? Elena Tzareva is sometimes seen to say too readily that a piece is from the Amu Dyra region but in fact nearly all the Turkmen tribes, plus some disparate groups, were there at one time or other. Do the pieces produced there by weavers from different tribes largely hold to tribal features or do they begin to influence one another and get mixed?

Anyway, that, I think, is agreed to be one of the important items on the Turkmen reseach agenda: to usefully break apart the Yomut and Ersari groupings.


R. John Howe

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