Strap, Band, Belt, Cinch?
The object is a fragment. I do not know what the original length might have been or what the object (belt? strap?) was used for.
The width is just over 6 cm (2 and half inches) the length of the fragment is around 120 cm (4 feet).
The base is a densely woven cloth which seems to be cotton. The closest contemporary cloth that I know to it is canvas, but this "canvas" is especially finely woven. I would suggest that it might be hand woven and not factory production because of the irregularities in the weave (the width constantly varies by a few millimeters). The width seems not to have been cut but purpose made in this width.
The embroidery threads seem to be silk and are not uniform in their twist or dimension and show subtle variation of color. In one area of the fragment there is metal embroidery around what might be a cotton heart. The metal thread seem to be gold (probably alloyed with other metals). This metal thread forms a continuous boundary around the highlighting the pattern. The metal embroidery remains on only one side.
When the textile was new it must have been exceptionally beautiful.
I would like to have information about where you think this textile is from and what it might have been used for.
Also, are there bands of similar width used in other cultures?
That looks like an Uzbek tent band to me. I've seen several
20th century bands with wool decoration and similar patterns
that were attributed to northern Afghanistan or southeastern
Uzbekistan. The silk (and the colors) are typical of Lakhai Uzbek
embroidery. Silk is plentiful in that region and used heavily in
embroidery work, but this is the first time I've seen it in a tent
Another possibility is Afghan Nuristan, which is famous for its
silk embroidery work.
Dear Chuck Wagner,
would a tent band typically be double sided ?
thanks for the quick response.
It looks very central Asian to me, and my best guess would be that it's Uzbek. The major color doesn't look like a natural dye, although it's very difficult to judge color on a computer monitor and (for me, at least) much more difficult with silk yarns than with wool. Silk takes dyes quite differently than wool.
Janet Harvey's Traditional Textiles of Central Asia shows several Uzbek tentbands done in silk and cotton. I don't think they are embroidered, though, and none of them look enough like this one to persuade me that Richard's belongs in the same group as they do.
The width of Richard's is narrower than most tent girths with which I'm familiar. That, plus the fact that it is double sided makes me think it's a sash that goes around the waist.
I saw a claim that this is a Tekke Turkoman tent band, made before 1850. That source isn't always reliable, and he doesn't say how he concluded that this is the correct provenance (but he seems very certain). It doesn't look like anything Tekke that I have seen. Could it be Tekke? Does anyone have a reference to something like it?
Turkmen would be very far down my list of likely attributions, and Tekke would not be my first guess even if I could be convinced that it is Turkmen.
I rounded up all the usual suspects on my bookshelf this morning, and found nothing that appeared sufficiently similar to Richard's piece to warrant thinking that they were of the same origin. Maybe someone knows of something that I just didn't find.
It does seem likely that it's central Asian, but Tekke? The vocabulary of design elements on Richard's piece is entirely geometric. Tekke design elements are generally floral-based, especially in their embroidery. Turkmen tentbands also tend to include significant floral elements. The palette seems quite limited for Tekke, and doesn't look Turkmen to me at all (this is difficult on a computer monitor, though). I think the closest Turkmen group, in terms of color, would be Ersari. Finally, the design elements on Richard's piece seem rather large scale and blocky (for want of a better word), even within the context of a very narrow textile. These are not adjectives that usually apply to Tekke stuff.
So, the brief version of my response to your question would be that I guess is could be Tekke, but I think it's highly unlikely. And I would be very much interested in knowing how anyone can be certain of an attribution of something so unusual, with nothing more to go on than an image on a computer monitor. It's difficult enough to make attributions of pile decorated tentbands, and there are lots more of them around.
the pallet of the object is much broader than at first seems.
there are two major reds, one with an orange tint and the second with a slight pomagranite tint.
[they appear on my monitor with a purple tint that is not there is reality. sorry about that Steve]
additional colors are
a darker golden yellow
orange (to my eye this orange seems to be a natural color . . . I have seen quite a number of antique pieces with good orange)
and the gold metal thread
i will try to get some direct scans of the piece on the weekend with the hope that the colors will be more accurate
It does, indeed, have more colors than what I can see on my monitor, and the colors on my monitor are obviously not the colors on the piece itself. This isn't unusual - it's the norm. That's why I'm very reluctant to make firm statements about color when I see them on the screen. In fact, the colors don't even look the same on my monitor at home as they do on my monitor at work.
You have plenty of experience with colors on old silk embroideries. If the colors look natural to your eye, I'd be pretty confident that they are natural. What they look like on my computer screen isn't important.
thank you for your vote of confidence. I would guess that the colors are natural but I dont really have an area come to mind when I think of the pallet.
as to an earlier statment.
The waist sashes that I have seen have used a much less dense weave as a background material.
Somebody worked very hard getting a needle through this to make the embroidery.
For the reason you touched on in your last post, I'm not inclined
to view your piece as a waist sash, but rather some utilitarian
tent piece. Normal cloth has been readily available in Central
Asia for centuries and is the typical base material for embroidery
work on clothing. When I mentioned tent band, I probably should have
been a little more specific: I don't view this as a fragment of a
frame girth. As you know, they're much wider for good reason.
I would expect a cinch to show a lot of edge wear, and your
piece does. But silk embroidery is a funny choice for decoration
on something that takes as much abuse as a cinch would.
Perhaps it's a pack band; the wear on the back looks like what
you'd get with a lot of lateral rubbing.
But I think it's more likely an interior utility item for a tent, used
for minor wrapping tasks (poles, etc) or some other restraint
The colors look Uzbek to me. Whether they're vegetable dyes
or not is questionable to me, but you're looking at the piece
and I'm looking at my monitor.
For comparison purposes, here's a Yomut piece with lots of silk:
And detail of a Nuristani tunic sleeve:
The only Tekke silk work I've seen is pretty recent, and looks like this:
As for being double sided, yes, that's interesting. But you've got
to get the thread from one end to the other, and if you're not
constrained by quantity (or if you want a slick surface) double
sided is just as good (and simpler) than single sided. Either way,
it's a nice piece.
Dear Chuck Wagner,
thank you very much for posting the images.
I keep coming back to the tekke image.
I now realize that there are considerable similarities of design between the left side of the tekke embroidery and the piece i posted.
red as primary color.
extensive use of the triangle
band between the triangle motives
the barber poll
the stamen or arrow motive is your piece appears as secondary motives in the empty fields between the triangels in the broader bands of design.
I will try to get a direct scan of the piece to show some close ups
perhaps what Mr EdBerger said might have some basis
"I saw a claim that this is a Tekke Turkoman tent band, made before 1850. That source isn't always reliable, and he doesn't say how he concluded that this is the correct provenance (but he seems very certain). It doesn't look like anything Tekke that I have seen. Could it be Tekke? Does anyone have a reference to something like it?"
You note certain similarities between the Tekke embroidery that Chuck posted and your piece. Specifically,
red as primary color.
extensive use of the triangle
band between the triangle motives
the barber poll
the stamen or arrow motive ...
While I agree that the similarities that you mention exist, I don't believe that they constitute much of a basis for attributing your tentband to the Tekke. They are of very general occurrence, and all of them exist in textiles from many weaving groups. For some handy examples, look again at Chuck's Yomud piece and his Nuristani tunic sleeve.
The obvious differences between the designs in your piece and those in Chuck's Tekke embroidery illustrate most of the reasons for my skepticism about the Tekke attribution when Ed raised it as a possibility. Here's what I said about that:
The vocabulary of design elements on Richard's piece is entirely geometric. Tekke design elements are generally floral-based, especially in their embroidery. Turkmen tentbands also tend to include significant floral elements. The palette seems quite limited for Tekke, and doesn't look Turkmen to me at all (this is difficult on a computer monitor, though). I think the closest Turkmen group, in terms of color, would be Ersari. Finally, the design elements on Richard's piece seem rather large scale and blocky (for want of a better word), even within the context of a very narrow textile. These are not adjectives that usually apply to Tekke stuff.
I understand that the color on my monitor is not true to the piece, and now know that there are many more colors on Richard's piece than what I can see. But the general style of the embroidery on the Tekke item is pretty dissimilar to that on the sash (or whatever it actually is). Here, again for convenience, are the images of the two pieces:
I don't see them as strikingly similar. Maybe Richard's band is Tekke, but it would take a piece much closer to it in appearance and with a pretty unambiguous Tekke origin to move me toward that attribution.
I've looked in on what I believe to be Ed Berger's source of the Tekke attribution. It includes no rationale, although it specifically states that the author is certain that the colors are all from vegetal dyes.
Richard acknowledges that the colors are poorly reproduced:
... there are two major reds, one with an orange tint and the second with a slight pomagranite tint. ... they appear on my monitor with a purple tint that is not there is reality. In view of this, there can be no basis for certainty about the dyes if the piece was only seen on line, especially since that certainty was expressed before Richard mentioned the color distortion. If this was Ed's source, I see no reason to give it much credibility.
Since that author is not free to defend his views here, I think it would be unfair to continue discussing them. If, on the other hand, Ed knows the rationale behind the Tekke attribution, I hope he will share that information with us.
The Tekke provenance source is (deleted by editor). I don't know the basis for it either. Please notice that I didn't call it Tekke, I only related that I found a site that did call it that.
the thot plickens..........
Originally posted by Richard Tomlinson
the thot plickens..........
Good morning . . .
does anyone know any reference to the use of gold thread in any turkman piece?
I don't think I've seen any Turkmen textile (in person or in print) with gold (or any other metal) thread. Within the context of central Asia, I associate this material mainly or entirely with urban workshop textiles, not with tribal weavings. The only exceptions that come to mind are the use of a wide variety of materials (perhaps including gold thread) as embellishments on the surfaces of some Afghan work.
I've also looked for "gold" and "metal" in the subject index section of the HALI Index, and find nothing relating them to Turkmen textiles. The HALI Index is kind of awkward to use, though, and it may be that there is something on the subject in one of the issues that didn't get into the index.
is there any possibilty this piece is INDIAN?
India seems like a reasonable possibility to me. My initial reaction was to place it in central Asia, but that seems less likely to me now.
I would eliminate any central Asian tribal origin. There is little about it that is compellingly "central Asian tribal", and I can't ignore the facts that a densely woven cotton ground and metallic thread in the embroidery occur rarely, if ever, in tribal textiles from that part of the world. If it's central Asian, it's probably urban, not tribal.
In addition to India, there's lots of textiles with dense cotton grounds embroidered with silk and metallic thread from almost every part of Asia, north Africa and Europe. The designs don't look European, though, so I'd eliminate that.
What was its use? My best guess is that it is from an article of clothing; perhaps a waistband or a sash. Another possibility is that it was a home furnishing (something like a bell pull or a drapery tieback).
Before leaving for my holidays here an - unfortunately not that helpful - reference to your band: A very similar, maybe a bit darker, piece is published in '2000 und 1e Nacht' (Graz, 2001) as No 136. The description says (translated) "Turkmen or Uzbek, Silk, Central Asia, 7 x 312 cm, around 1900".
By the way, a band similar to Chuck Wagner's one and the one seen the Ersari Yurt is shown as No 20 in Emmett Eiland's 'Tent bands of the Steppes' (Berkeley, 1976). Its "origin [is/was] unknown" but "purchased recently in Afghanistan". Interestingly it has some pile knotted stripes between the ornaments executed in inlaid brocading.
Dear Christoph Huber,
thank you for your reply. would it be possible to post the image that you are refering to ??
***** A very similar, maybe a bit darker, piece is published in '2000 und 1e Nacht' (Graz, 2001) as No 136. The description says (translated) "Turkmen or Uzbek, Silk, Central Asia, 7 x 312 cm, around 1900". ******
I tried unsuccesfully to have the textile scanned directly today. My nephew is having problems with his scanner. one image is now being sent to Mr. P. but the colors are outrageous there is a yellow discoloration . . . he can decide whether to post it in the meantime. My nephew also tried to do some close up digital images from a camera which might be more succesful. They are now on the way to Steve Price.
I had another look with a magnifying glass and it seems to me that the metal embroidery which appears on only one side of the object and for only part of its length might well be a later addition. they quality of the couching when viewed with magnification is not nearly of the quality and delicacy of the rest of the embroidery and the threads used in places are thicker than those of the rest of the embroidery, , ,[but this might be a repair job of the couched thread that did originally appear on only one side.] will try to get a close up scan of the area. It is also the only part of the textile where the edgeing still exits.
I wish I could say more about the ground cloth of the piece. . . . I will try to get to the museum in jersualem this week and have an expert give a better discription of it.
Here the picture you requested:
I also scanned the "unknown" band and - as an inspiration for Vincent - a loom, both from Eiland's booklet.
The image that Christoph posted pretty well sums it up: Turkmen
or Uzbek. I'll add: and, could be from either side of the river. This
type of material often originates in northern Afghanistan, or
migrates into there from the countries to the north of the Amu
Here's the door surround I mentioned earlier; ground material
is cloth. Note the metallized thread in the closeup. I see this
often in embroidered goods from this region, as well as in
Baluchi and Persian tribal rugs (as occasional single knots,
or in tufts added to edge decorations).
The band from '2000 und 1e Nacht' (Graz, 2001) is clearly of the same design and width as Richard's, and it most likely came from the same weaving group and had the same use.
There are what appear to be some differences that puzzle me a bit. The published piece is described as being made of silk, Richard's is a heavy, densely woven (he says it's like canvas) cotton.
It's unfortunate that the description of the published piece doesn't include a rationale for the attribution. The fact that the author says it's "Turkmen or Uzbek" suggests some uncertainty, and I wonder how he knows that it's central Asian. Kaitag (Daghestan) embroideries were frequently attributed to Uzbekistan until Chenciner's book appeared. Assuming that the author's attribution has a sound basis, I'd guess that it's most likely urban Uzbek. Neither silk nor cotton is typically used for warp or weft in Turkmen work. Chyrpys, typically silk embroidery on a silk ground, are the only exception that comes to mind.
The published band is about 10 feet long. There's apparently no mention of whether it's complete or a fragment, but it seems reasonable to assume that Richard's was at least that long when it was complete. And it's use remains an interesting riddle. A textile, embroidered on both sides, that can be made of silk or of heavy, canvas-like cotton, at least 10 feet long by about 3 inches wide - sounds like something from a garment (belt, sash, lapels and collar of a coat) or from a home furnishing (bell pull, drapery tieback, etc.).
just because something is published doesn’t mean that it is true.
I don’t know if the img ages so kindly scanned for us by Mr. Christoph Huber are from a commercial publication by a dealer or from a museum catalogue.
I believe in any case that the object shown is a silk embroidery on a base cloth and is referred to as silk by mistake. The loom shown seems to be the type of loom used to make the long cloth that was latter embroidered.
I went through the “Muziek voor de ogen” cat. from Antwerpen1998 realized by the Russian Ethnographic Museum in St. Petersburg. Unfortunately nothing similar.
I know many belts and sashes and strips of weaving that were used to decorate objects of clothing and this does not have that kind of feel.
I don't believe that curtains as are known in the West were in use in
Central Asia. Shutter of wood were the norm. Also I don’t think that bells were all that common in that part of the world. So I would tend to rule out an article of clothing or bell chord or curtain sash.
We don't even know from the object from Graz what might have been the length of the object when made . . . the three meters twelve could also be a fragment. The suggestion of the showing the hand loom is that it was a tent band is also not really based.
I wish I knew more about who published the object in Graz and could have that person share what he knows
Thanks to Mr. Wagner for showing that show bits of metal thread embroidery are not uncommon in Central Asian work. . . this allows us to still consider that object as Central Asian.
I am familiar with these bands....picked them up in Afghanistan years ago and they still come through the Istanbul marketplace. Featured a slide of one in my ICOC talk on Turkmen embroidery in Washington DC... it IS Turkmen. But which tribe? I thought it might be Saryk based on a palette and the tone of the red colour (w/ a bluish cast to it). Elena Tsareva thinks they might be Ersari. Not sure, but they did show up in northern Afghanistan with displaced Turkmen tribes who fled Soviet Central Asia to escape Stalin's rule. The area in Afghanistan was populated by both Saryk and Ersari groups. What were they used for? Decorative bands used inside the yurt is my guess.... not clothing, not a waist sash. Hope this helps Richard... have always liked these things.
Dear Mr. Cole,
Many thanks for sharing your experience with the group. My congratulations on your nice (new) website. I very much enjoyed the exhibition of photos of Turkmenistan.
Here's a picture from a nice little book on a not very well documented topic:
"Embroidery From India & Pakistan" by Sheila Paine (ISBN 0-7141-2744-2)
The text describes it as a mans wedding scarf which is wrapped
around the chin and turban. Dimensions 7.25 in X 63.75 in. It is
attributed to the Sindh region of southern Pakistan. It seems a
plausible explanation for the purpose of the piece, and it may
fit with Richard's piece as well. I'm still inclined toward some sort
of decorative function within a tent myself, but I have a dim
memory of a photo of this sort of head wrapping in a Central Asian