Posted by R. John Howe on 07-13-2003 12:17 PM:

Andrews Quotes

Dear folks -

Steve and I have mentioned that Peter Andrews is likely the person who has studied the Turkmen tent (and a number of others) most closely. Part of this work entails describing some of the related artifacts. Tent bands, be they functional or decorative, are part of what he treats. Here is a quote or two from Andrews' "Nomad Tent Types in the Middle East," Volume 1: Text.

Andrews presents a typology of tent types of which the "framed" tents are first. Within "framed" tents are the "trellis" tents that the Turkmen used. Andrews analyzes two Turkmen trellis tents in detail. The first is one is describe as "Trellis tent: Turkmen of Iran, Yomut and Goklen." The second tent he analyzes is described as "Trellis tent: Turkmen of Afghanistan, Ersari.

Here are two passages from his decription of the Yomut/Goklen tent. Tent bands are discussed under "Cordage."

"...Finally partial pile weave on plain-woven ground is used for the most valuable girths reserved for special occasions. This is also worked on alternating warp sheds. Only three examples of girths wholly in pile weave, "citme," are known (one was sold at Hermann's gallery in Munich, 1988), and their tribal provenance is uncertain..."

Most reporters seem to indicate that these luxurious mixed technique tent bands were placed inside the tent with the pile inward. Andrews' description indicates how this is done with regard to the Yomut/Goklen tent.

"...Festival girths, "ag yup," woven in pile-relief technique on plain-woven white or ivory ground, are also passed around the lower parts of the roof struts with the lower edge level with the trellis heads, where they can be seen to the best advantage, and without risk of damage from the hard trellis-pin ends. They vary in width from 40-50 cm. the tails can be made fast to the upper tenons of the door posts. Since they are generally said to take three years or more to weave, they are reserved for special occasions only, and are likely, more than other types, to be passed from generation to generation. They are also the only item of the Turkmen weaving repertoire to carry the figures of people or animals, notably depictions of the wedding procession. The white colors carries propitious associations normal in the Turko-Mongol world, and these girths are normally used exclusively on white tents"

[ed. The next to the last sentence of this passage above contains one of the few apparent errors I have found in this work. There are published asmalyks with wedding trains (see Jourdan, plates 192, 193,194) and there are a few Turkmen chuvals with human and/or animal figures, (e.g. Plate 30 in Mackie/Thompson's, "Turkmen," 1980, has two or three small animal forms in the left side of the skirt and was selected by Thompson in part for that reason). Andrews seems to have carried this indication along from his 1971-72 exhibition catalog.]

Andrews treatment of the Ersari tent in these two volumes is not as detailed as that of the Yomut/Goklen one, but it does include in the associated volume 2, a photo of an Afghan Ersari tent with what appears to be a mixed technique band in use.

Note that this band is placed on the outside of the tent with the pile side facing out. This is apparently a summer tent with reed screen rather than felt side walls (Andrews says elsewhere that the Turkmen generally used these white tent bands during the summer months to avoid smoke damage). The placement of this band on this Ersari tent is different from the description provided for the Yomut/Goklen one above.

Aside: Andrews notes that since Karakul sheep are predominant in Afghan Ersari herds, that the tent felts are gray and the Ersaris contrive a "white" tent, for example, for a wedding, by covering the gray tent felt with white cotton.

Andrews also seems to say that in the case of the Afghan Ersaris, the white tent is left with its decorations until the first child is born. If so, that practice would expose these luxurious decorations considerably among the Ersaris.


R. John Howe

Posted by Steve Price on 07-15-2003 11:45 AM:

Hi John

Andrews' description (and picture) of the Ersari yurt is interesting, and is the first I've seen with a tentband outside the tent. His mentioning that this is done during the summer in order to avoid smoke discoloration makes sense; I've seen a few tentbands that were discolored from smoke.

But I don't think I've ever seen a tentband or a tentband fragment that was faded. Exposure to the sun - especially at the intensity of central Asian deserts - would result in significant fading in a fairly short time. I'd guess that one summer of exposure would be enough. And it's obvious in the photo that there is full sunlight falling on the tentband.

This leads me to believe that placing them on the outside, as shown in Andrews' photo, is pretty unusual rather than the rule or that it was done only for very short periods.


Steve Price

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 07-15-2003 07:14 PM:

Mixed technique or mixed up?


The tent band in the photo does not look like a mixed technique tent band to me. The dark colors seem too light.
It almost even looks like the part you are calling a tent band is the top of a wide weaving with a white or uncolored center section, and a bottom which has a couple of parallel stripes with tassles and then another white section and a dark stripe with a fringe hanging from it. Almost as though someone threw a blanket or cover over a rope around the top of the tent, with most of the blanket hanging down and only a small part hanging over the rope at the top.
Even if it is a tent band and not just part of a blanket, what is that "blanket" hanging down under it? I am not familiar with a textile of this nature.
If it is a tent band, how is it affixed to the tent? When hanging inside the tent, they are held by interweaving them with the tent struts, I think. This one shows some lines coming from the fringe of the band, but the band appears to sag a couple of feet from the end, and then there are those tassles hanging down from it, too. I have never seen a tent band with tassles???
Perhaps the FBI can send in a photo expert to help us out here.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by R. John Howe on 07-16-2003 08:01 AM:

Hi Pat -

Good eye.

I agree that this apparent usage violates the descriptions I've seen of how the mixed technique tent bands are displayed. And (see below) this one may well not be of mixed technique.

The photo didn't scan particularly well and some detail is lost but in the original the strip at the top does look pretty plausibly to be a mixed technique tent band. Andrews' caption for this photo merely identifies it as of an Ersari "wedding" tent.

Your point about tassles is also alert and I'm not sure about it (the Turkmen did add tassles to lots of textiles). I can't recall seeing a mixed technique tent band described as "Ersari," but I have seen some labeled Uzbek and Kirghiz (Ersari neighbors). And some of the latter have been quite faded.

Here is the passage in which Andrews describes the "cordage" use for the Ersari tent he analyzed.

"...The external girth is ordinarily a rope. In an "aq oy" (ed. a wedding tent) this is replaced by an "aq yup" (ed. festival tent band) woven in ribbed extra-weft brocading with 30-45 cm wide, sometimes without borders, with the field divided into panels 1 m long, stitched over the upper edge of a cotton sheeting skirt 120 cm deep, with dark fringed lower border hung over the cane screen. A pair of narrower white girths 6-7 cm wide , and like the roof felt ties, banded with extra-weft brocading, may be stitched along the length of this skirt, parallel to the "aq yup," but at mid-trellis length and these may be given a fringe of tassles."

Andrews is here explicitly describing the "external girths," but the techniques he says are used for the "aq yup" (extra weft brocading) would produce flatweave, so it may well not be a mixed technique band. At a minimum he does not use the same terms he uses for describing the weave of the Yomut "aq yup." But he does seem to see it as having a white ground. (I don't think I've ever heard a description of a Turkmen white ground tent band done in flatweave either, but the "band" in the photo clearly has a white ground.) And Andrews does say explicitly that the Ersaris sometimes added tassles to some tent bands.


R. John Howe

Posted by Chuck Wagner on 07-16-2003 01:45 PM:

Hi John,

Thankfully, you didn't add the key qualifier "really old" to your
comments about what you've seen and not seen, so I can show
you this band with impunity.

This is a 20th century (I think) tent band with

1) White ground material
2) Flat weave (of a sort) decoration
3) Tassles, attached to a thin strip along the bottom side

The colored yarn is laid in over the warps and is barely visible
from the back. It's held down with warps picked out to augment
the design with white highlights:

It has a narrow strip of red-brown plain flatweave lashed to
the bottom edge of the band...

...which is where the tassles are attached.


Chuck Wagner

Posted by R. John Howe on 07-17-2003 06:59 AM:

Chuck -

Thanks for putting this band up.

How wide is it? Do you have a tribal attribution?

I've asked Peter Andrews about the one in the photo. We'll see what he says. The credits seem to indicate that it is taken from Trapper's work, so Andrews may not know either whether the band in the photo is of mixed technique.


R. John Howe

Posted by Chuck Wagner on 07-17-2003 05:01 PM:

Hi John,

The band itself is about 13 inches wide; the plainweave strip
adds about 2 more inches. I don't have an attribution for it.
Note that the ground material is cotton, not wool.

It's heavy and durable, which is a little inconsistent with the
method of attaching the pattern wool. The smaller bits do
seem to get pulled out with use; there's quite a few spots
where they've succumbed to wear.

This HAS to be a really tedious way of laying in a pattern.


Chuck Wagner

Posted by R. John Howe on 07-18-2003 10:43 AM:

Andrews Responds

Dear folks -

I have asked Peter Andrews directly whether he thinks the large band toward to the top of the Ersari wedding tent photo above is of the mixed technique variety and he says that he thinks not.

Here is his full response:

Thanks for your query. As you see, the picture was not mine, but
Bernard Dupaigne's, and I have never seen an Ersari wedding tent. He is, though, a reliable ethnographer, and I fully believe what he says. Ersari tents, especially wedding tents, are somewhat different from other Turkmen tents insofar as their felts, being normally of Qarakol (Karakul) sheep's wool, are dark, and they are given a white appearance by a cover of white
sheeting on the outside. The white cotteon skirt on the outside of the cane screen (qamish) is therfore only an extension of the general white cover. Furthermore the two bands in the lower part of the skirt, with tassels attached in at least the lower case, are presumably separate, stitched on, and are of a type which occurs on the market relatively frequently. I have photographed such bands in the Lindenmuseum in Stuttgart.

"The broad band at the top is, I believe, in brocaded technique.
I base this assumption on the nature of the patterning, which, in both the big lozenge and the group of smaller ones, closely resembles that on the red qizil qolang used by the Yomut outside their cane screens, and which is exclusively in extra-weft brocading, and ribbed in effect (except for the borders, which are often in an extra-warp technique). I see no reason
to think that this would be in a mixed technique, pilework, or anything other than brocading.

"Mixed technique bands occur, incidentally, among the Qazaq, where another technique also intrudes: what I call rag weaving, where small tags of rag are worked in to form the pattern, in combination with brocading etc. We analysed a lot of these in the depot at St Petersburg (GME).

"I hope this serves your purpose. Perhaps B. Dupaigne could provide more information from the Musee de l'Homme in Paris."

My thanks to Peter for these further indications.

I wonder whether the "rag weaving" technique he describes is what was used in Chuck's band.

(Please note that Peter's spellings are often different from what we normally encounter. For example, he often uses "Q" where others use "K." Such things are not accidental with him. He has studied, takes quite seriously and practices using the spellings that seem most correct to him. For example, he is still argues seriously that the spelling of the name of the Turkmen door rug should be "engsi" rather than "ensi." Etc.)


R. John Howe