Posted by R. John Howe on 06-24-2003 11:30 PM:

One Advantage of Fragments Demonstrated

Dear folks -

As is happens, I also own a Turkmen tentband in mixed technique.

It is a short fragment that I purchased at ICOC X. One advantage of collecting on a budget is that while Steve has had to use 19 mere photographic images to show you his daunting piece, I can unveil mine in its entirety using only three direct scans.

Here they are:

This fragment is 12 inches wide and 19 inches long (using the rule "narrower is older" mine is likely younger). It is also entirely in wool and I do not see any silk.

Toward one end some of the pile sections include a green that is quite bright in one edge stripe in the upper left corner of the second image above (indicating color here is not accurate despite the direct scan) but darker in other instances in the same area.

Here are two images of the back:

I have begun to examine some of the steeper angle sections for signs of the asymmetry in drawing that Marla mentions.

(Before I go further I should acknowldege that Marla has worked closely with Christoph Huber on this tentband analysis and the wonderfully clear "bead" diagrams provided in the expostion on Marla's site have been created by Christoph.)

If you have looked you have seen that Marla says in part:

"...The important characteristic that separates extra offset knotting from all other weaving structures used by western and central Asian tribal weavers is its natural asymmetry."

"...The small flower heads below were made with pile arranged diagonally as in diagram C. The shapes are slightly asymmetrical: The diagonal outline on the left side of each blossom is a little steeper than that on its right, and the left side has smaller "steps" than the right. It is a quintessential tent band motif -- its characteristics determined by the unique structure. The slant of the stems is the same as that on the right side of the blossoms; their direction is just reversed.

Extra offset knotting.
Knotted pile is aligned
in consistent
diagonal columns."

I am not sure but I think I see indications that this piece of mine may have a lot of extra offset knotting. I think I see the "diagnonal columns" Marla points to.

I have also tried to compare the zig zags in the border with the two images she provides at one point to see if I can tell whether mine might be of the two distinct weave strategies for which she provides examples.

Here's Marla again:

"...In other words, the Yomut weaver treated the zigzagging form as a separate element, to be articulated in the easiest and smoothest way. The weaver of the band on the right treated the zigzags and vertical borders as one motif, executing all parts in the same fashion, even though on an open ground the irregular diagonal knot alignment was a little more clumsy."

Here are the two example images Marla provides:

Yomut (?) band with zigzag motif articulated with the extra offsets of
diagonal knotting

Tekke (?) band with zigzag motif articulated along with vertical borders in regular knotting

This is probably too crude, but I wondered whether the comparative steepness of the angle in my own piece might not hint that it is done in the mode of her Tekke(?) example here in this area.

I'm not sure how close this analysis at this stage places us to being able to make tribal attributions of mixed technique tentbands, but it's encouraging. Marla does say at one point:

"...My unsubstantiated hunch is that band techniques employing extra offsets at least originated within Saryk or Yomut groups -- among weavers who frequently used offset symmetrical knotting in their chuvals and rugs. "

And at the very end she talks about her analysis of one piece and then mentions some additional indicators:

"...The fragment above (ed. see the link) presents the typical kind of dilemma faced when we search for tribal tent band labels. Is it Tekke? Or Yomut? A combination of clues suggests that this example instead be tentatively labeled Saryk. First, the inclusion of both silk and cotton pile is consistent with that attribution. So is the fineness of the knotting, much of it done with wool singles, rather than two singles. Bands that surely must be Yomut have lower warp counts, even when executed with great finesse. The coral colors in this band are more typical of Saryk work than the other groups. And included is a fine multi-ply commercial yarn in cherry red that I have found in early Salor, Saryk and Tekke work, but not in Yomut weavings.

"But the clinchers came in unexpected technical details that my friend Allan Arthur noticed. Tiny colored (red and blue) weft inlays were used to straighten and strengthen the weave near the edges -- features not found in Tekke or Yomut work, but common in Saryk weaving. Weft-splice ridges typical of Tekke and Saryk weavings are sprinkled throughout. Then we found overlapped knots forming columns in the outside borders -- knots jammed together purely to add bulk and strengthen the band edges. This is a Saryk weaving practice, and one not used in Tekke work.

"If a significant number of bands can be attributed with some certainty based on distinctive weaving practices and characteristics, we may then be able to add unique extra offset knotting techniques to our arsenals of features useful for making tent band attributions."

I think that this is wonderfully good work and will ultimately let us sort some of these things out.


R. John Howe

Posted by Marvin Amstey on 06-26-2003 02:11 PM:

Another fragment

Here is a view of a fragment I own showing clear Tauk Nauska figures. These, the colors and other designs point to Yomud for me.

Posted by Steve Price on 06-26-2003 02:56 PM:

Hi Marvin

It's kind of interesting to find devices that are associated with particular motifs being used "out of context" in tentbands. Your Tauk Noskas are a nice example of this.

Panel 6 in mine also has an "out of context" device in it -

The two little rectangular devices are within the major motifs in this panel. Similar devices are fairly common in the centers of octagons on Belouch bags, and can be found from time to time within some Turkmen guls.


Steve Price

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 07-01-2003 02:23 PM:


Your post is a bit confusing. Are the top five photos from your tent band and the rest from Marla's site?

You mention asymmetry. I certainly see asymmetries in the designs of the small motifs in your tent band. One might almost describe it as clumsiness in articulation of the motifs.
Is this from offset knotting? The photos are not close enough to tell.

You also say that your fragment is of mixed technique. I only see one technique, pile weave. I suspect that the "mixed" technique that is often referred to when describing tentbands is the pile weave on the main body of the band and a sumak or other extra-weft design at the ends. The areas with no pile on your tentband are only the same sub-structure that continues under the pile areas, too, so this would not be described as a different/mixed technique (technically).

Patrick Weiler

Posted by R. John Howe on 07-01-2003 04:45 PM:

Hi Patrick -

Yes, the first five images are direct scans of my own fragment and the other images in the first post are from Marla's site. I have also quoted selected parts of her text.

It is likely that I mangled her explanation somewhat in the process, so it would probably be better to go back to the direct link I gave in another thread in this salon and read it directly and entirely. Here it is again:

I probably should not attempt to improve on Marla's explanation of both the "asymmetries" in such weavings, or of her explanation of the character of the "offset knotting" in such bands. I think you can likely see some indications that there are offsets in the fifth image of mine, but maybe not.

I think my fragment is likely from a tent band of this group that is in fact later and cruder in drawing and that contains less rich materials than does one of the calibre that Steve has presented. But what do you want for $150? (I know where there is a complete contemporary Turkmen tent band of mixed technique done entirely in silk for which the owner is asking $12.5K, but I was a little short the last time I visited that shop.)

I have adopted the term "mixed technique," which I think Marla and Christoph use too, to refer to the fact that there are pile decorations on some areas but other areas are flatwoven (usually the white ones).

Steve has opted for "pile decorated tent bands" to describe this sort of tentband, but that seems to me not to distinguish the ones that are entirely decorated with pile from those that are only partly so decorated. (Not a heavy point; just an explanation of my usage.)

I agree that the areas without pile have the same foundation structure as those with it, but we frequently distinguish "pile" areas from "kilm" areas (using that latter term to refer to nearly any flatwoven area) when we talk about rugs, so I don't think that my usage here is at all novel.

But I think most of the confusion will clear up if you read Marla and Christoph directly.


R. John Howe

Posted by Ed_Berger on 07-06-2003 06:42 PM:

Dear Steve

The "out of context device" in your tentband is just an aina gul. Since the aina gul is exclusive to the Tekke tribe, it positively identifies your tentband as being Tekke.

Ed Berger

Posted by Steve Price on 07-06-2003 07:40 PM:

Hi Ed

I read your message and became pretty excited. It would be more than just a bit cool to own the only Turkmen pile decorated tentband in the world for which a tribal attribution is unambiguous. Sadly, there are some problems.

The first is that although there are several variations of the aina gul, this isn't quite the same as any of them. This could easily be rationalized, of course - it would be almost impossible for any weaver to reproduce an aina gul accurately on the tiny scale of this device. So if we had some independent reason for believing that this is an aina gul, we could easily explain the fact that it lacks some of the details. Unfortunately, I know of no argument that would lead me to conclude that this must be an aina gul derivative.

The second problem is that even if we take the position that this cannot be anything except an aina gul, this is not an exclusively Tekke motif. Plate 12 in Mackie and Thompson's Turkmen is a rather early Salor torba or trapping with a field of aina guls. Thompson's comments on it include recognition that this is a fairly common motif on Tekke bags, but he believes that the Tekke adopted it from the Salor. Whether his conjecture is correct or not isn't directly relevant to us, of course.

So, to bring a long story to a little summary,
1. It isn't clear that this device is actually an aina gul or a derivative of one, although that is a reasonable suspicion.
2. Even if it is an aina gul, that wouldn't prove that it is Tekke - it could be Salor.

My opinion, by the way, is that it is most likely to be Tekke, because Salor and Saryk weavings are so much less common than those of the Tekke.

Thanks for the stimulating post, and welcome to Turkotek.


Steve Price

Posted by Ed_Berger on 07-07-2003 06:54 AM:

Dear Steve

I have to agree that the motif that looks a lot like an aina gul might not really be one (it probably is, I think). I didn't know about the Salor using it, too, though. Have to check my sources better.

Thank you,

Ed Berger