Posted by Richard Farber on 05-16-2004 11:49 PM:

Has anyone information about 'prayer-rug' embroideries amoung the Turkmen?

Dear Turkotekees,

Has anyone information about 'prayer-rug' embroideries amoung the Turkmen?

I mean embroidered clothes or mats with a niche form which are about the size of prayer rugs.


Richard Farber

Posted by R. John Howe on 05-18-2004 08:03 AM:

Richard -

I took a quick look and didn't find such a Turkmen piece. The only embroidered Turkmen pieces with "niche-like" designs that I can recall are asmalyks which do not have the size of a "prayer rug" at all.

We showed a couple of embroidered asmalyks in Salon 102.

Here is one type of embroidered asmalyk.

And here is another on a felt ground.

There are, pile, Turkmen rugs that seem not to be engsis but which have niches at the top. We showed several of those in Salon 89. Here is one from that salon essay.

Turkmen "salanchaks" and saddle blankets sometimes have a shape that seems at least to echo "niche" designs. Here is one from Wendel Swan's discussion way back in Salon 2. (Sadly Wendel's initial salon essay was lost during some server troubles we had.)

I suppose a "salanchak" could be embroidered but embroidery does not seem a likely mode for the treatment a saddle blanket would likely get, even on special occasions.

By the way, Yon Bard pointed out in Salon 2 that a piece whose format itself is pointed, as that of the salanchak is, is not a likely candidate for use as a "prayer" rug since there is no place to put one's hands. Prayer rugs Yon said (and others agreed) need to have corners that rectangular pieces have.

The only other possible source of a Turkmen embroidered piece with a seeming arch would seem to me to be a chyrpy fragment. Likely a back section that could have an embroidered section between the shoulder blades that had an arch design. I don't think I've ever seen one of the latter, though. I mention it because I own a Turkmen "boche" that seems to me to be constructed from such a back panel of an old chyrpy.


R. John Howe

Posted by Richard Farber on 05-18-2004 10:51 PM:

Dear Mr. Howe,

thank you for the informative reply.

I will sharpen the question. Amoung some of the peoples of Central Asia the form of an embroidered [or blockprinted] rectangle with an arch of aproximately one meter or somewhat more in height and a meter or somewhat less in width was fairly common, among others rare and perhaps amoung the Turnkmen and others nonexistant.

I have not given up in searching for examples of such a rectangle among the surviving crafts of these people and would appreciate help from those of you out there in finding such pieces - or even reference to such pieces.

Thank you

Richard Farber