TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  Additional Images and a Few Thoughts
Author  :  Michael Wendorf mailto:%20wendorfm@mediaone.net
Date  :  12-05-2001 on 11:58 a.m.
Dear Readers:

In viewing and trying to absorb the images supplied by John Howe in this Salon I found myself wondering what, if anything, to make of these weavings as a group. My initial impression of these rugs is that they seem derivative of at least three familiar tendencies ( I am not certain where to place the ikat inpired designs - perhaps they are a fourth group). These tendencies are (1) weavings with technique generated designs or derivative patterns (for example images 1, 2, 8 and 10), (2) weavings with persianate inspired designs (examples 3, 23 and Guido's rug)(I would tentatively place the ikat inspired pieces such as 7, 11 and 12 here), and (3) Turkmen like pieces (examples 4, 5, 6, and 26). Interestingly, these tendencies seem to be consistent among all of the weaving groups with the Turkmen like group being attributed to the Turkmen Uzbek and Karakalpak as one might expect.

I find it helpful to have as many images lumped together in one place as possible when trying to come to grips with a group of weavings. The sum is often greater than the individual pieces.

In this regard, I posting images of three additional, but previously published, rugs. I first saw these rugs at the VI ICOC which took place in San Francisco in 1990. They are published in Oriental Rugs From Pacific Collections and these images are taken from that book.

The first image is plate 164.

This rug from the Fitz Gibbon and Hale collection, was described as Central Asian. The caption states: This unusual piece puzzles even those familiar with the esoterica that turns up in the Kabul bazaar. An arab, aimaq, and moghul origin have been suggested.

Warp: brown and white wool, 2 strands, z spun,s plied; weft: red wool 4 shoots; pile: wool 2 shoots. symmetrical knots.

I remember this puzzling over this piece 11 years ago. It still puzzles me and does not seem much like anything else in the images of this Salon. The borders have a lot of reciprocity going on and have a bit of a caucasian feel though these borders are common in many areas.

The next image is plate 165.

This piece is labelled Kirghiz. To me this seems immediately recognizable and falls into the first group with a technique generated designs. In general, these rugs seem to derive from flatweaves they being characterized by lots of stabilzed hooks. However, distinctive they seem, the distinctiveness seems to me a matter and format and color. The pattern is deriviative and related to weavings of other areas and other people.

Do these rugs demonstrate a long weaving tradition among these people and, if so, where are the flatweaves? In thinking about this, I was surprised to go back and find only one flatweave in the Salon, image 22, a brocaded bag that is dark and difficult to see.

The warp here is mixed brown and white wool. The weft pinkish 1 shoot (seems to be characteristic of these weavings?). The pile is a asymmetrical knot open to the right, slightly depressed.

The third image is plate 170.

Here we see another rug like the julkir labelled 14 in the Salon with green and red. This rug is identified as Uzbek, possibly Badakshan or Wakhan. It is said to be dip dyed which I found surprising given the saturation. This process, if true, suggests something more akin to ikat production. In any event, the warp is said to be dyed wool, 2 strands, z spun untwisted. The eweft same with three passes and one pass under each row of knots. Symmetrical knot. Note the interesting ends.

Guido has asked elsewhere how old these rugs are. I do not think they are particularly old, but are old enough. The more interesting question to me is what kind of tradition, if any, do these weavings represent and whether any of these weavings represent a tradition that is distinct to the people who wove the rugs. I, for one, do not have enough information or understanding of these weavings to form any opinion on this, perhaps others of you do?

FYI, my personal favorites are 7, 11 and 27. Thanks for the Salon.

Michael Wendorf

Subject  :  Re:Additional Images and a Few Thoughts
Author  :  R. John Howe mailto:%20rjhowe@erols.com
Date  :  12-05-2001 on 09:20 p.m.
Dear folks -

Thanks to Michael for these additional images and thoughts.

I too have been intrigued by the first rug he shows and it seems to me that it does not fit readily into any particular category.

His attempt to group the salon pieces usefully is interesting and I had not noticed that the fact that "julkhyrs" are dip-dyed is something they share with ikats.

Twice folks have asked about age and while everyone is guessing a bit, Blackmon uses the terms "very old," for a couple of these pieces. Amongst Central Asian scholars, it seems to me that "very old" suggests before 1850 and perhaps even in the early 1800s. It is true that there seem to be a rather large number of weavings in most groupings of non-Turkmen Central Asian rugs that are estimated to have been woven near 1900 or later.

Tonight I was looking at O'Bannon's translation of and commentary on Antipina in "The Kyghyz Carpet I," and noticed that Plate 42 provides two border fragments, described both as "before 1850," and "among the oldest Kyrgyz weavings." So that's my guess about age of the oldest pieces in this group.


R. John Howe

Subject  :  Re:Additional Images and a Few Thoughts
Author  :  Patrick Weiler mailto:%20theweilers@attbi.com
Date  :  12-05-2001 on 09:52 p.m.

I, too, do not have enough information or understanding of these weavings to form any opinion on this, but that has never stopped me before.
The first rug you show seems to have a lower flat woven border strongly reminiscent of the ubiquitous Uzbek flat woven saddlebags adorned by latchooks within a diamond grid. The upper and lower borders are commonly a zig-zag design like that in your first rug. The colors, too, are similar.
As for rug 2, it looks to be woven from four strips sewn together. If it is not, then it was designed and knotted to mimic such a rug.

I have seen a few rugs similar enough to the rugs in the salon over the years and most were a bit ratty and the colors seem to clash a bit, with oranges and pinks and reds of different intensities but close enough to be disconcerting. They were not common enough in the literature for me to be comfortable acquiring. Perhaps I missed a good bet?

Patrick Weiler

Subject  :  Re:Additional Images and a Few Thoughts
Author  :  Yon Bard mailto:%20doryon@rcn.com
Date  :  12-05-2001 on 10:29 p.m.
Michael, what are the dimensions of your second example? It looks to me like pieces from a tent band sewn together.

Regards, Yon

Subject  :  Re:Additional Images and a Few Thoughts
Author  :  Michael Wendorf mailto:%20wendorfm@mediaone.net
Date  :  12-05-2001 on 10:53 p.m.
Dear Patrick:

I agree with your observation about the apron or flat-woven border on the rug in the first image. The bags you refer to have always been around among Afghan dealers who say they come from northern Afghanistan and with what seems to be a good green, yellow and a brownish red. This rug seems a little more red than those bags in color. The bags you refer to usually employ an interlocked technique that makes them distinctive. They have always seemed to me to be solid utilitarian weavings, but they seem to have never been popular with collectors.

You and Yon also raise the issue of strips being sewn together for the second rug, plate 165, and Yon asks about the dimensions:

The dimensions are sadly not provided in the book, but I recall the piece being over 4 feet wide. The piece does consist of 4 strips of pile sewn together. Whether these pieces were woven as tent bands strips or merely woven on a narrow loom with the intent to sew them together into a rug is not known to me. I recall this piece being fairly intense in the flesh, very meaty wool and a cherry red color.

Thanks for your posts, Michael

Subject  :  Re:Additional Images and a Few Thoughts
Author  :  Michael Wendorf mailto:%20wendorfm@mediaone.net
Date  :  12-05-2001 on 11:25 p.m.

One more related thought about those bags you mention.

The technique is most properly described, I believe, as "double interlocked tapestry." Perhaps one reason they have never been popular (in addition to being a tapestry format without flashy colors) is that they are almost always the same - well drawn hooked devices in a lattice. The double interlocked tapestry technique drives this as it is very sequential.

By contrast the rug in the first image seems much less static. I do not know if it reaches the level of spontaneous, but it is much less sequential than the bags you refer to. This too we have seen before - as weavers go from restrictive to less restrictive techniques, the patterns free up a bit.

One might conclude that the bags you refer to are a traditional weaving and knotted pile rugs such as plate 164 are derivative of them using a much less restrictive technique.

Something to think about.

Thanks, Michael

Subject  :  Re:Additional Images and a Few Thoughts
Author  :  Filiberto_Boncompagni mailto:%20filibert@go.com.jo
Date  :  12-06-2001 on 02:52 a.m.
Dear all,

On Jon Thompson’s "Carpets From the Tents, Cottages and Workshops of Asia", page 11, I found another julkir like Michael third image and Salon # 14. This is made from four strips too, the external ones indigo blue, the central ones red (but two different tones of red).
The caption says: "Though often ascribed to the Uzbegs, who also make coarse long-piled carpets, these rugs are the work of a nomadic Arab tribe migrating between Quataghan and Badakhshan in north Afghanistan. Their appearance in the Kabul bazaar in the 1970 coincided with rapid changes in the local and economical conditions that caused a sharp reduction in the number of families making the migration. After 1950. 305 x 107 cm/ 120 x 42 in."

By the way, after a long and tormented reflection I decided: my favorite rugs are 27 and 19.


Subject  :  Re:Additional Images and a Few Thoughts
Author  :  Michael Wendorf mailto:%20wendorfm@mediaone.net
Date  :  12-06-2001 on 10:33 a.m.
Dear Readers:

Filiberto makes reference to another julkyer similar to Salon #14 and plate 170 from my initial post (3rd image). Here we see another reference to the area of Badakshan, but also to an unspecified nomadic arab tribe.

Part of the interest in these julkyers seems to be their "nomadic" heritage. In Oriental Rugs From Pacific Collections the caption to plate 170 includes the following:

"In a sense, these rugs, along with tent and pack bands and Shahsevan jijims, may be termed the most nomadic, since they are constructed with a hand loom, allowing the weaver to make them while on the move. Nomadic women never experience an idle moment while awake; so it is not unusual to see them weaving on a hand loom as they walk or ride about."

I have never really understood these words or what is meant exactly by a hand loom. In any event, these simple, even minimalist and primitive, weavings are are said to be dip dyed seem to generally be considered purer expressions of an old weaving tradition and a nomadic lifestyle. Though I understand the argument I wonder whether it is really based on anything more than wishful thinking.

Assuming they are dip dyed, what is it about the dip dying process that makes these weavings purer or more nomadic? Dip dying is also something done in towns with abr or ikat textiles - nothing necessarily nomadic about that.

And what is it about a simple, coarse knotted pile structure that makes these weavings purer or more nomadic? It seems likely to me that these people used flat woven structures long before they started using knotted pile.

As for the minimalist look of just two or three colors; why is that an expression of nomadism?

It seems to me that the best argument is evidence of a long standing use of these rugs for a purely utilitarian purpose such as sleeping. It may be that this is so and I believe John Wertime has begun to explore this in Hali 100. However, we may be a bit over anxious in describing these weavings as the "most nomadic", whatever that means.

Thanks, Michael

Subject  :  Re:Additional Images and a Few Thoughts
Author  :  Steve Price mailto:%20sprice@hsc.vcu.edu
Date  :  12-06-2001 on 10:59 a.m.
Hi Michael,

I agree that the use of the words "purely nomadic" is unfortunate and very romantic sounding. My guess is that the underlying notion for people who use that phrase (apart from marketing considerations) is that these things are rather unlikely to have been influenced by commercial tastes or preferences. Western buyers in the mass market prefer fine weaves, intricate patterns and many colors.

Since every hand-knotted carpet is made on a hand loom, that can't possibly be the meaning intended by that sentence. I assume that it means a loom narrow enough to be conveniently portable. Or something.


Steve Price

Subject  :  Re:Additional Images and a Few Thoughts
Author  :  Guido Imbimbo mailto:%20miaom@pacific.net.sg
Date  :  12-07-2001 on 03:36 a.m.
Dear All,

Thanks to Michael for the interesting tentative grouping of the Central Asian rugs presented by John Howe in his Salon and for the additional images and information.

On this regard, I thought it could be useful to share with you a little data base on Central Asian rugs that I collected during the last few years.

I grouped my information trying to follow the rugs presented in the Salon. References are presented in chronological order. I can post pictures if anybody desires that.

Group A
Rugs related to Rug 4 in the salon (so called “Karakalpak”) and to the Turkmen-related third group proposed by Michael

1) Lot 128A, Skinner, 4 Dec. 1988, (see Hali 43, page 95) = plate 17.23 in James Opie, Tribal Rugs, page 316 = Hali 63, page 4 = plate 78, Wiedersperg Collection, Between the Black Desert and the Red, page 106

2) Lot 3985, Nagel, 9 Mar. 1989 (see Hali 45, page 91)

3) Plate 89, M. Volkmann, Old Eastern Carpets, Masterpieces in German Private Collections, page 215 = Lot 51, SL, Turkmen Rugs from the Collection of Dr Werner Loges, 19 Oct. 1994 = Lot 140, SL, 26 Apr. 1995

4) Plate 4, Brian W. Mac Donald, Tribal Rugs, Treasures of the Black Tent, page 39

5) Plate 131, Oriental Rugs From Pacific, page 151 = plate 77, Wiedersperg Collection, Between the Black Desert and the Red, page 105

6) Plate 42, Antique Turkmen Carpets, Exhibition 3-18 Mar. 1990, Hans Elmby

7) Plate 166, Oriental Rugs From Atlantic Collections, page 150.

Lot 191, Nagel, 15 Nov. 1996.

Group B
Rugs related to Rug 27 in the Salon

1) Lot 192, Nagel, 15 Nov. 1996

2) Hali 39, May/June 1988, page 33

Group C
Other rugs not directed related to Salon pieces

1) Lot 1135, Nagel, 4 Apr. 1992 (see Hali 63, June 1992, page 13.

2) Hali 74, April/May 1994, page 122.

3) Lot 121, Skinner, 20 Apr. 1996 (see Hali 87, July 1996, page 15 = Plate 2, George O’Bannon, Roads to Confusion, in Hali 89, Nov 1996, page 74.

One final word on the importance of assessing the age of these carpets. Age in rugs weaving is connected with traditions and in general culture/social environment. Understand age of carpets consent to place them historically in the culture tradition of the weavers and the community that produced them

Thank you for your attention,


Subject  :  Re:Additional Images and a Few Thoughts
Author  :  Michael Wendorf mailto:%20wendorfm@mediaone.net
Date  :  12-07-2001 on 08:57 a.m.
Dear Guido:

Can you post images of the group B rugs like # 27 of this Salon? A number of people have listed this as a favorite and it would interesting to compare a group of these pieces.

Thank you, michael

Subject  :  Re:Additional Images and a Few Thoughts
Author  :  Guido Imbimbo mailto:%20miaom@pacific.net.sg
Date  :  12-07-2001 on 09:35 a.m.
Dear Michael,

Here are the picture of the two rugs related to Rug 27 ofthe Salon.
Though they are related to Rug 27, to my eyes they look much less attractive and less older than it.

For the Nagel 1996 piece, the entry says:

Monumentaler Usbek,um 1900,409cm x 140 cm

For the Hali 39 piece, the caption says:

A very rare and unusual Uzbek Giliam(short pile long rug) Central Asia, early 20th century, 164 cm x321 cm

Best regards,


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