How Do I Love Thee, Let Me Count The Colors...
I have recently purchased this antique Ersari juval.
At 34"x50" it is large, and sports a 3x4 layout of huge archtypal major guls (the first depicted below is 9" wide and 7" tall) and this triangle variant of a chemche. Real simple kochak border with two barber pole guards. Doesn't come much simpler than this. The detail of the drawing is superb, I do believe, and with three blues, an interesting green, red, yellow, brown, ivory and apricot, quite a range of colors. Thick, dark coarse warps, two shots of weft, 8h. x12 v. open right, flat on the back with no ridges, almost like a Tekke, and a low pile which is glossy and colors of depth which really respond to light. An interesting object all around, even smells good.
I suspect this is on the further end of the age spectrum for an Ersari, and the colors are great (I think?). The deep red, couple shades of blue, the green and yellow, all textbook older Ersari characteristics, if memory serves. And especially this apricot color seen in the guls.There is a strong green component in this light blue, it's almost a bluegreen.You really have to see this chuval in person to appreciate it, the scale of the design,the depth of the colors. The difference you see in the two full images is entirely a consequence of the amount of light . In normal indoor lighting the field is a deep mahogany color, but bring it into bright light and it becomes this supersaturated red.
This bagface demonstrates some interesting qualities color wise, and I invite everyone to utilize some of these precepts of color harmony to better understand color use in this weaving.
Here is the 9" x 7" archtypal gul. The guls vary much in size and proportion on this bagface.
I especially like the detailed use of color in this chemche.
This wonky drawing is endearing.
Simple border sequence and this green, both at once.
Interesting Elem in this further image.
Hi David -
No one is acknowledging your piece, so let me do so.
As I said on the side, I think this is a good find, the sort of piece that I often buy myself. Older, but with some condition problems.
You mention the large size and it is surprising how large Ersari chuvals sometimes are.
It appears to have the more "Caucasian-like" colors that both Ersaris and Yomuts can exhibit. The "robbin egg blue" is especially prominent and attractive.
The drawing seems traditional to me (I personally like to see "hooks" rather than "flags" among the devices used in internal drawing of the major guls, although Pinner and Elena said to me once that "hooks" are not an age indicator. I had though they might be, since hooks are more complex and seem a prime candidate for simplification, and flag usages seem to be one of the latter.).
I also think the large devices in the elem are attractive and can't remember seeing them before (there are some Yomut chuval skirts that have four rather massive devices like this).
I think this piece a worthy addition to your collection.
R. John Howe
Thanks for the kind words. As I assume is rather obvious, I am fond of this bagface. Makes a nice counterpoint to my modern Ersari chuval .
As I had noted above, this antique bagface seems to have most of the distinguishing characteristics of early Ersari weaving. Another characteristic, as I failed to note above, is the prominence of white in the palette.
It strikes as a different approach to design than the following,
from your Salon regarding Dennis Dodd's "Rug Morning" here on Turkotek.
This particular incarnation seems more at Salor than Ersari, compared to their traditional gul pieces (and especially mine above ).
Any possibility that what we see going on here could be an early attempt to trade upon the elan of Salor weaving? Barring (or inclusive) of this, representative of an urban design pool? Some suggest a dichotomy of the Ersari design pool, consisting of a more western, gul based repetoir and an Eastern, more urban and Asiatic component.
Follow this link to a previous discussion of design motives in Middle Amu Darya weaving here on Turkotek.
Your reference to caucasian weaving is interesting, especially in light of what Eiland has to say concerning the seeming ethnic composition of the Turkmen in "A complete Guide;
"There are Yomut and Goklan of northeastern Iran who strongly resemble the Kazakhs of Central Asia. The Salors have a more "Asian" look, giving them an appearence that more resembles the Uzbekis. The Tekke of Ashkhabad and Merv, however,look far more Iranian than central Asian."
This elem, with it's four large kochak/lattice devices is for me a high point in this weaving. In this respect it is unusual, but more at interesting than odd.
This bagface is difficult (at least for me ) to photograph, making it challenging to convey the qualities of the colors. The richness and variability, in accordance to the amount of light, is especially interesting. Mahogany, Terra cotta, and Tomato are all accurate description of the ground color under various light conditions. I believe this chuval does achieve what the color theorists characterize as color harmony, as it can be argued to demonstrate:
A dynamic balance
A sense of order
The red ground counterpoints the sense of motion conveyed by the real physical movment, as we fix upon the different colors and elements of the composition,taking them in. The contrasts in the colors, some of them striking, as in the ivory and this almost electric blue, is counterbalance by the close filial relationship between the colors. For all it's apparent complexity, the palette consists of three representatives of primary blue, one each of the red and yellow primary, and two tertiaries. Hence the palette relies heavily upon analogous and complimentary colors. Note the color use in the following chemche gul,
and the positions of the respective colors on the color wheel.
And as for a sense of order, the Turkmen gul format, with it's repetative use of color in it's borders and guls, is a sense of order of the highest, well, order.
I picked up this Kirghiz bagface (30" x 41") with the guli gul and kochack border, dice border and what could be a precursor this stepped "ribbon" border, so often seen in Ersari and Saryk ( I think?) work. Seems some authors are of the opinion that Kirghiz weaving is a recent occurence, relative to that of the Turkmen. The Eilands, in their latest edition of The Complete Guide, view them as being a potential, elder repository of Turkmen carpet designs.
Could these simularities be further manifestations of the Eastern vs Western dichotomy mentioned above?
Happy Holidays and a Great New Year,
When you write on this discission, "This particular incarnation seems more at Salor than Ersari, compared to their traditional gul pieces (and especially mine above )" what do you mean. Where are your comparative salors and what about these, especially your bedding sack face makes you say salor. This I do not see. I will be gone for a few days I am taking my wife home to Morocco since her brother was in an accident. I will try to read the internet from there but I have no laptop. Maybe I find cyber cafe. Maybe you can give me book name to see Salor that look like Ersari when I come back. When I think salor I think of bloomed mader red not browny madder red.
It's a reference to the border sequence and it's composition, among others. I had specifically stated "compared to their traditional gul pieces" as a reference to design.
Hi David -
I have to admit I'm not seeing the Salor similarity you mention either. In fact, the main border on your piece is one area in which it seems to me there are signs of conventionalization. This border appears in Tekke pieces, in the Saryk you show here and in Ersaris, as well as in the non-Turkmen Central Asian piece you also provide. Versions of it appear in some Salor pieces as well (I am looking at Plates 2 and 5 in Jourdan) but Salor main borders are more often diamond shaped devices.
Ersari weavings may often not need the support of comparison with the august Salors. Marla Mallett has said somewhere that as she has examined a great many Turkmen pieces in recent years, she has found that the oldest instance of a number devices seems to occur in Ersari pieces. She speculates that Ersari design may in some instances have served as a kind of source for other Turkmen weavers.
R. John Howe
Very interesting. Did not the Ersari Saltuq rule the Salor but the Salor never ruled the Saltuq. All Turkmen were ruled by the Ersari except maybe the Yomud. Who is this Mallet who knows so much?
Marla Mallett is the author of "Woven Structures", an excellent book about, well, about woven structures. She's also got a nice website, with loads of information on it, at http://www.marlamallett.com/
East vs West, Continued...
The similarites I mention are only superficial, just the internal drawing or "instrumentation" of the archtypal guls and the kochak variant of the border, as in Plate 6 from T.M's "Turkmen" below.
Plate 6, mid 19th cent. Salor Tribe
Don't get me wrong, I dont really understand the process by which these come to look so much alike. But Thompson has some ideas, as from "Turkmen", pg. 67, below.
"The oldest weavings of each tribe frequently provide suprisingly clear evidence of an early relationship between them in terms of their designs. The further back we look the more comon ground
we find, which points to a common ancestry for many Turkmen designs. As the awareness of Turkmen weavings has grown and previously unknown old rugs becomw available for study, similarities between the tribes emerge that are not evident in later examples.This suggests that some designs have originated
from a common ancestor at some time in the distant past and that these designs have undergone successive modifications in the hands of different tribes. The various forms of the quartered-lobed-gul suggests an early relationship between the Salor,Saryk,Tekke,Ersari, and possibly Arabatchi.
The exact nature of the relationship is not clear. It could be one of geographical proximity, military alliance, cultural affinity or, as the legendary history of the tribes would suggest, an origional tribal unity, later subdivided".
Well and good, but for a moment let's go back to plate 6 above, of which Thompson states
"The design of this bag is interesting for the comparison it provides with literally hundereds of bags with nine guls made by various tribes, particularly the Yomut, and with the bag in the following plate which has the same design but in a different arrangement. The term "archtypal gul" has been coined
for this design so as to avoid a simplistic mistake of calling it by a tribal name. Every Turkmen tribe uses a form of this design somewhere in it's weaving. There are so many variations that it is impossible to say what form is ancestral to annother They must all be derived from a common prototype which has undergone various modifications over a long period of time in many different hands".
Plate 7, late 18th cent. Salor Tribe
So here we have two formats of gul layout ,the 3x3 and a 4x4.
Let's assume we are moving west and look at a pair of Yomud chuvals, also from "Turkmen"and as discribed by Thompson.
"Two main streams of design can be detected. The first consists of ancient designs shared by other Turkmen tribes. This stream is represented by carpets with the archtypal gul, the dyrnak gul, and the octagonal gul with four pair of animals the Tauk Noska design. The second stream consists of designs incorporated from
outside sources and changed gradually in conformity with the prevailing Turkmen style".
"The bag in plate 70 displays an arrangement of three rows of three archtypical guls. It has no back, but unlike many old bags, retains it's origional width, including the areas of solid color at both sides beyond the main border. This empty space is important to the visual effect of the design as a whole".
PLate 70, Early 19th cent. Yomud Tribe
"Another variation of the archtypal gul is seen in a Yomit bag where three rows of four guls occupy the field which is proportionately larger than the previous example. Another version of the Chemche gul is used for the secondary
ornament. The main border and guard striopes are sometimes found in Tekke weaving".
Plate 71, Early 19th cent. Yomud Tribe
Now compare Plate 71, 70 to the Ersari in Question.
I'll come back and try to make sense of this soon.
East vs West, Continued...
Let's step back from the three archtypal guls and their internal drawing for a while (will come back to these later), and broaden the scope of the discussion. Let's start with the Kirghiz bagface mentioned above.
This is really an interesting artifact (and apparently rare, as suggested by Eiland in "Complete Guide"), with it's coarse weave and expansive scale of design, the size of the guls on the bagface approximating that on gulli gul main carpets of the Ersari. Of special note, this diamond shaped "shield" within the gulli-guls is about the size of a Tekke main carpet gul, and seems to beckon innovation of design. I suspect it has yielded much.
You could sew four of these Kirghiz bagfaces together and almost have a main carpet. At 30" x 41 it's a few inches shy of the 32 1/4" x 52 1/2" demonstrated by the turret gul Salor chuval in "Turkmen's" Plate 8 (below).
Notice the kochak border, and especially the turrets, common to both the Salor and the Kirghiz; in the Kirghiz the turrets are suggested as the minor gul, and it's placement contiguous with the gulli-guls.
The "Ersari" main carpet from T.M."s "Turkmen", Plate 85, is accompanied by the following caption
"The carpet in Plate 85 has large, closely spaced guls, an arrangement which conforms to an archaic tradition preserved most noticeably in Ersari weavings. The grid lines joining the secondary ornaments is unusual and may be the vestige of an earlier layout. The huge guls are uneven in shape and size, giving the carpet an early primative look. The colors, wide coarse side finishes, light colored wefts, and crude workmanship provoke the question of exact Tribal origin. At first glance it looks Ersari, it certainly has an Ersari design, but the overall style is close
to a group of colorful, rough-and-ready weavings often considered products of non-Turkmen weavers".
Notice the memling guls at the center of the "shield" device in the gulli-guls.
And compare it to the drawing of the shield region of the archtypal gul from Thompson, Salor plate 6.
We see this same element here, to the left and right of the central medallion in this Salor piece,
from "Turkmen" plate 9.
It is not by coincidence that this central medallion is of an octalinear configuration, as in the minor guls of the following Ersari main carpet, plate 58 from "Black Desert and Red".
Here the main guls are of a more rectalinear geometry, and the minor gul of the octalinear.
Thus we have two basic variations upon geometric design progression, rectalinear and octalinear, and representing the formentioned west/east dichotomy.
Iv'e indicated below just a rough approximation of the forces which have molded Turkmen design repetoir, the blue line those of the Caspian region and as manifested in the early palmette style drawing of the Ballard Yomud in the Met. To the east, in green we have Uzbek and other central asian denizens which make this area home and who have lived in close proximity to each other for centuries. And in the center the Turkmen where they have resided for some time as well.
In a detail from an Ersari main carpet in Eiland's "Complete Guide", we see this eastern, octalinear motif. Notice that the interior "shield" of these Ersari gulli-guls approximate delineation of the archtypal gul.
Thus is the geometric relationship between the gulli-gul of the Ersari, it's compatriots the Turkmen main carpet guls such as the Tekke, and the archtypal gul ,which share this octalinear geometry. Of the interior drawing of the above mentioned Yomud archtypal guls from plates 70 and 71, we see a more rectalinear orientation.
East vs West, Part III
You had stated above that
"Marla Mallett has said somewhere that as she has examined a great many Turkmen pieces in recent years, she has found that the oldest instance of a number devices seems to occur in Ersari pieces. She speculates that Ersari design may in some instances have served as a kind of source for other Turkmen weavers"
and I think this fits well into the discussion of this eastern vs. western, octalinear vs. rectalinear dicotomy. Find below a Tekke engsi which demonstrates this more western rectalinear drawing. (Follow this link to a discussion of the similarity this engsi design bears to traditional Persian flat weaves or zilus )
and compare it to the internal drawing of these two guls
I would suggest of these two that the internal drawing of this second Yomud gul from Thompson plate 70 better represents the western style, with it's simple "banner" as opposed to the more octalinear "bracket". Yet the "twelve triangle" design is the same in both.
Maybe this map, from "Between Black Desert and Red" can aid us in understanding what was going on with these carpet designs.
Notice how all of the population centers ring the edge of the Kara Kum Desert, and imagine the forces exerted if a fundamental shift in the flow of trade, to and from the west toward the Caspian, or the reverse, toward Bukhara and Samarkand, took place.
Interesting that Ikat patterns are found abundantly in both Yomud and Ersari weaving, yet for some reason seem to prevail later in the designs of the Ersari, Ikat designs being more prevalent in the Yomud during an earlier period(?). If we are correct in assuming that the Ikat source lies in the east, this would suggest the yomud were familiar with Ikat and that they traded with the eastern cities of Turkestan. Perhaps these tendencies, rectalinear vs octalinear, are more a consequence of geographic isolation due to shifts in trade routes, population decline, supply/demand, spread of arid regions, ect..
Interesting thoughts, though I am not sure how one could substantiate theories of design "migration" definitively. Still, I think you have highlighted some important differences within broad design categories.
I don't know very much about Yomud designs during various epochs. Here is a Yomud rug listed as c. 1900 shown on Barry O'Connell's "spongobongo" website.
Is this an example of Yomud ikat design? Does this represent early or late Yomud weaving?
You had stated that
"I am not sure how one could substantiate theories of design "migration" definitively"
and I agree. I also don't know how to definitively substantiate the Theory of Evolution, yet it seems a fairly sound proposition.
You could probably construct an analogy of gene pools and design pools, isolation of traits, isolation of motifs, ect., and while it may not constitute a "definative substantiation" it seems a valid model with which to examine a natural phenomena. You gotta go with what youv'e got.
I suspect that your rug draws for it's design from a couple of sources, as with much Turkmen weaving, including flatweaves, feltwork, possibly ikats, and both a rectalinear and an octalinear design progression. All are just clusters of characteristics, which seem to express an affinity for an approximate, gross geographic distribution of designs and techniques. Is there also a temporal dimension?
Will be back with more soon.
Central Asian Gulli-Guls
Hi John, James
The following are various incarnations of the Gulli-Gul found in Central Asia
Kirghiz napramach; Kirghiz Gulli-Gul from bagface above;
Karakalpak/Uzbek, from "Black Desert" plate 77; Non-Turkmen, from "Turkmen" plate 85;
an early Ersari main carpet from "Black Desert" plate 55; an Ersari from "Carpet Magic" page 37,
an Ersari with the Temirjin gol;
and it's counterpart in a Saryk carpet fragment; "Turkmen" plate 16;
the Salor Gulli-gul; and of course the Tekke.
Interesting, the similarities in construction and drawing found between the chuval guls above and the Tekke main gul. Could the ubiquitous and stable natures of these three motives be a function of a kindered history and association? And of the balance of the Gulli-guls, a more broadly based relationship?
Be sureto check out a thread here on Turkotek, Middle Amu Darya Weaving, for other apparent examples of design transmission, and from one medium to another. Scrool about half way down the page (it's a long thread) to find the referenced material.
Hi James, John
It is important to keep in mind a few basic principals inherent to the study of Turkestan and in turn Turkmen weaving in general, as postulated by Kalter in his "Arts And Crafts Of Turkestan".
1. Forms and ornaments which appeared in their characteristic shape for the first time in the Timurid period have dominated the traditions of the arts and crafts untill well into our century.(Kalter, pg.39)
2. Items which can be proved to be older than 100 to 150 years are extremely rare.(Kalter,pg.26)
3. Late medieval cultural traditions have survived untill our own time. This makes the study of the recent cultures of Turkestan so fertil, but at the same time so difficult; they can only be understood from a historical point of view.(Kalter, pg.41)
In short, the cultures of Turkestan have been static since the decay of the Mongol empires, and it is possible that traditions such as the use of the Palas as a floor covering and the influences of ikat weaving upon that of pile, may date to this early period. There is practically no physical evidence, so that which can be learned must proceed from correlation.
A Brief History of Turkestan
Only in the 9th century did independant Islamic states emerge in Turkestan, at first still formally dependant on the court of the (Arab) Caliph. The most important of these states, culturally as well as economically, was the Samanid Empire (874 - 999). The Samanid's capital was Bukhara, their most important governor's seat was Nishapur.
As documented by tens of thousands of Samanid coins found in Scandanavia, but also a few scattered ones in Central Europe, Samanid trade, passing via the Volga basin, reached nearly the whole of europe. The list of export goods made up by the Arab geographer Mukadasi in the 10th century (Brentjes 1976), is long and impressive. His (incomplete) list comprises: rugs and prayer rugs from Bukhara and Samarkand, fine cloths and weavings made from wool, cotton, and silk, soap, makeup, consecration oil, bows that could only be bent by the strongest men, swords, armour, stirrups,fittings, saddles,quivers, tents, rasins, sesame, nuts, honey, sheep, cattle, horses and hawks, iron, sulfer, copper.(Kalter)
Formation of the Turkmen Nation
During the Mongol conquest of Central Asia in the thirteenth century, the Turkmen-Oghuz of the steppe were pushed from the Syrdariya farther into the Garagum (Russian spelling Kara Kum) Desert and along the Caspian Sea. Various components were nominally subject to the Mongol domains in eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Iran. Until the early sixteenth century, they were concentrated in four main regions: along the southeastern coast of the Caspian Sea, on the Mangyshlak Peninsula (on the northeastern Caspian coast), around the Balkan Mountains, and along the Uzboy River running across north-central Turkmenistan. Many scholars regard the fourteenth through the sixteenth centuries as the period of the reformulation of the Turkmen into the tribal groups that exist today. Beginning in the sixteenth century and continuing into the nineteenth century, large tribal conglomerates and individual groups migrated east and southeast.
Historical sources indicate the existence of a large tribal union often referred to as the Salor confederation in the Mangyshlak Peninsula and areas around the Balkan Mountains. The Salor were one of the few original Oghuz tribes to survive to modern times. In the late seventeenth century, the union dissolved and the three senior tribes moved eastward and later southward. The Yomud split into eastern and western groups, while the Teke moved into the Akhal region along the Kopetdag Mountains and gradually into the Murgap River basin. The Salor tribes migrated into the region near the Amu Darya delta in the oasis of Khorazm south of the Aral Sea, the middle course of the Amu Darya southeast of the Aral Sea, the Akhal oasis north of present-day Ashgabat and areas along the Kopetdag bordering Iran, and the Murgap River in present-day southeast Turkmenistan. Salor groups also live in Turkey, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and China.
Much of what we know about the Turkmen from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries comes from Uzbek and Persian chronicles that record Turkmen raids and involvement in the political affairs of their sedentary neighbors. Beginning in the sixteenth century, most of the Turkmen tribes were divided among two Uzbek principalities: the Khanate (or amirate) of Khiva (centered along the lower Amu Darya in Khorazm) and the Khanate of Bukhoro (Bukhara). Uzbek khans and princes of both khanates customarily enlisted Turkmen military support in their intra- and inter-khanate struggles and in campaigns against the Persians. Consequently, many Turkmen tribes migrated closer to the urban centers of the khanates, which came to depend heavily upon the Turkmen for their military forces. The height of Turkmen influence in the affairs of their sedentary neighbors came in the eighteenth century, when on several occasions (1743, 1767-70), the Yomud invaded and controlled Khorazm. From 1855 to 1867, a series of Yomud rebellions again shook the area. These hostilities and the punitive raids by Uzbek rulers resulted in the wide dispersal of the eastern Yomud group. (Library of Congress Country Studies)
"The cultivation of cotton, which had origionally been imported from India,had a centuries old tradition, too. Cotton growing and sericulture (silkworms) were the foundation on which the flourishing textile workshops in the towns of Turkestan depended. Cotton has been an important export article since before the Russian conquest. As early as 1880, the long-fibered American cotton-plant was introduced by the Russians and areas of cotton cultivation were considerably enlarged. A great number of irrigation projects, particularlly those carried out after 1920, aimed at the extension of cotton growing. Today, two thirds of the Soviet Union's cotton harvest is gathered in the Republic of Uzbekistan. Cotton growing in Turkestan made possible the rise of Russian textile manufacture. As early as the last decades of the 19th century, cheap Russian cotton printed fabrics were beginning to supplant the products of the traditional Turkestan textile workshops more and more, bringing them almost to a standstill, except for the production of ikat materials with very simple decoration. (Kalter, pg.16)".
Better represented in western collections is ikat, an outstanding product of Turkestan textile handicrafts. This was put to a variety of uses in Turkestan households as table cloths, niche curtains, tapestries, bedclothes, covers and cushion covers.
"According to the literature, in Turkestan, silk and mixed silk/cotton fabrics are called"abra" or "adra", in Afghanistan (according to Janata), generally "pardah" (meaning a curtain)."and,
It's exremely varied patterns range from simple stripes to zigzag patterns through curved lines, to hooks, "cloudband" and circular ornamentation, classic Islamic motifs such as combinations of stars and crosses, reminescent of Seljuk tiling, realistic and abstract human figures and trees of life. Despite the credible work of the important reasearcher in the field of folk textiles, Alfred Buhler, and an article by A. Janata published in 1978, this fascinating field has barely been touched in my opinion. The authoritatitive monograph on central Asian ikat still remains to be written. Buhler assumes- and this assumption is supported by Janata- that ikat was already produced in Turkestan in the 8th cent. A.D. The immense number and variety of patterns used in ikat offer an as yet undeciphered pattern book on which the cultures with which Turkestan had contact (China,Tibet,India ,Iran) may have left their mark. .
The word "ikat" originated in indonesia. This method of fabric dyeing, like batik, is a so called "resist" or "reserve" technique, and was developed to a high degree of perfection there. According to the literature, in Turkestan, silk and mixed silk/cotton fabrics are called"abra" or "adra", in Afghanistan (according to Janata), generally "pardah" (meaning a curtain).
To make ikat, the yarn is stretched on the loom. The work is described by Janata as follows: "In the present case, the threads of the warp are dyed before weaving by tying them together in bundles according to the desired pattern. A material of several colors requires several binding and dyeing processes. Since it is impossible to tie the bundles so tightly that sharp outlines are produced, ikat weaves can be recognized by the way the colored sections flow in the direction of the patterned threads. One ikat weave requires the services of nine specialists, from spinning the silk yarn to weaving. In other places, for simpler products, fewer sufficed. It is not yet clear who made the ikat fabrics. The repeated expressed theory that it was made by Jews has not been substantiated. Janata's conclusion that they were made by Tadzhiks (Arab ethnics) is the most probable, especially since all the data relating to what craftsmen belonged to which ethnic groups, indicate most of the craftsmen practising technically sophisticated crafts were in fact Tadzhiks.
The importance of ikat in urban culture has been described by D. Dupaigne as follows: Ikat fabrics are luxuries given as gifts of honour at weddings and other important occasions. The wealth of a landlord or merchant is indicated by the richness or newness of his garb. The patterns change anually with the fashion."
P.S. I should note that a recent publication on the subject of ikat, Kate Fitz Gibbon and Andrew Hale, Ikat: Splendid Silks of Central Asia: the Guido Goldman Collection (Lawrence King Publishing in Association with Alan Marcuson Publishing, 1999)
The following is from a Salon here on Turkotek, The Turkmen Brocaded Palas as Pile Woven Gul Format Prototype
More Palas Pictures supplies some interesting comparisons.
Brocade Based Patterns in Turkmen Weaving
Pile woven examples of Palas brocade patterns seem to be straight forward enough, and there seems to be a high correlation of design elements between the two groups. Given the propensity for weavers to imitate tile work and engraved patterns, and in turn for there to be numerous examples of tile and stone engraving imitating carpet, it seems matter of course that pile floor coverings would imitate the patterns of brocaded floor coverings as in the palas. That the palas repesents, as Mr.Slattery contended in the most important "More Palas Pictures" thread of this salon, "clearly the most basic type of floor covering to be found in this part of Central Asia" , and in keeping with Kalter's principal #3 above, which would assert that the palas has been as such since the late middle ages, further the plausibility that Turkmen gul patterns and symmetry mimic brocaded Palas patterns and symmetry.
Ikat Weave, from a thread in the above Salon "The Lattice"
It seems that a large number of Turkmen weavings fall into this class, weavings possessed of patterns and designs which mimic the patterns of ikat cloth, which itself is so important in this part of the world and which has an extensive history of production in the Turkmen regions.The size of this class of weavings speaks much of the importance of ikat, so esteemed and imitated.
The similareties between the two, Ikat and pilework, are many, but this discussion will center upon two characteristics or qualities of construction and design, those of warp based design and the symmetry of design.
It is entirely of coincidence that both the ikat and the pile woven rug should both be of a warp based design structure, in which the design is applied to the warps by way of dying sections of the warp in ikat, and by attaching dyed knots of wool to the warp strands in the pile weave. However, it is no coincidence that the patterns of the two fabrics share the same symmetry, for this characteristic of being a warp based design both expedites the borrowing of designs and symmetry and encourage the transaction, by way of simplifying of the process by which patterns can be transcribed from one medium to the other.
The symmetry of design, between ikat and the pile woven gul format, is perhaps even better demonstrated by considering the process by which the design is layed out upon the ikat warps by a technique of halving and folding the warps upon themselves in order to form a repeating pattern. The following simple demonstration will clairify this process.
Take an 8 x 11 sheet of standard paper and folds it in half along it's length. Then fold it again lengthwise. Take the resulting narrow strip and fold it in half along its narrowest boundry, then fold the resulting rectangle again, across it's shortest dimension. Now crease the paper heavily upon the edges, and then unfold it to reveal the perfectly symmetrical grid. The grid which shares the symmetry of the Turkmen gul format design. Simplicity in itself, this temporal exercise in design symmetry. Follow this link to another previous discussion of the ikat/gul format relationship here on Turkotek.
If you are really a glutton for punishment, check out my other excruciating Salon, containing some pertinant information regarding Arab cultural inflluences,Streams of Influence: Motives and Origins of Moroccan Carpet Design.
East vs. West, Part IV
Hi John, James
Let's return to this east-west dichotomy once again. I had stated above that
"Interesting that Ikat patterns are found abundantly in both Yomud and Ersari weaving, yet for some reason seem to prevail later in the designs of the Ersari, Ikat designs being more prevalent in the Yomud during an earlier period(?). If we are correct in assuming that the Ikat source lies in the east, this would suggest the yomud were familiar with Ikat and that they traded with the eastern cities of Turkestan. Perhaps these tendencies, rectalinear vs octalinear, are more a consequence of geographic isolation due to shifts in trade routes, population decline, supply/demand, spread of arid regions, ect.."
and seem to have found some correlation in Elena Tsareva's discussion of the S.M. Dudin collection at Oriental Rug Review as follows:
Dudin could not study Yomud carpet weaving at this place at the time of the year. He arrived as the tribe was migrating to summer pastures, and there was no opportunity to follow them. The only source of rugs were the bazaars of Samarkand and Merv, neither very rich in Yomud production. So Dudin's impressions of this group is illustrated only by what was available in the Ferghana Valley.
"Yomud carpets are rarely met at the markets in comparison to Merv or Akhal Tekkes; most are small pieces, often camel trappings for weddings, asmalyks, mafrashes, ensis, kapunuks and lastly the runners, yolami.
"In coloring, mainly by common tint and decoration, all articles usually called Yomud can be divided into several groups. They include products of the Goklan, Chodor, Ogurjali and so on, and undoubtedly it would be possible to find distinctive features at least for the most typical objects of these groups if there were a richer variety of material, at least partly more or less correctly dated."
These two citations from Dudin's article are evidence of the state of knowledge of Yomud carpet weaving at the eve of the century. Dudin, like most scholars, could not visit the Yomuds, had no real information on the nature of their weaving, nor their trade contacts with Iran and the Caucasus. In reality the Yomuds produced a great number of carpets, mostly in large dimension, for sale. But their markets were not Samarkand or Bukhara, but the trade centers of the Caucasus and Transcaucasus. It is known, for example, that it was a question of prestige for Azerbaijanis to have Turkoman -- or as they were called "velvet" -- carpets in the dowry.
There was some speculation above for the prospect of
"constructing an analogy of gene pools and design pools, isolation of traits, isolation of motifs, ect., and while it may not constitute a "definative substantiation" it seems a valid model with which to examine a natural phenomena. You gotta go with what youv'e got"
and it seems that someone has taken this idea one step further. In their
Investigating cultural evolution through biological phylogenetic analyses of Turkmen textiles , published in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, Jamshid Tehrani and Mark Collard attempt a statistical analysis of the frequency of expression, distribution, and filial relationships of design motives in Turkmen weaving. The following is a sample,
"In contrast to the ethnohistorical evidence, the other two lines of evidence support the hypothesis of relationships suggested by the textile data. One line of evidence is the clan names used by the tribes. According to wood (1973), the Ersari, Saryk, and Salor clan names are derived from an exclusively Oghuz lexicon, whereas the Tekke and the Yomut clan names include Persian influences. Moreover, the Ersari, Salor, and Saryk have a number of Oghuz clan names in common that they do not share with the Tekke or Yomut. Thus, the clan names support the hypothesis of relationships derived from the textile data, since they also suggest the Ersari, Salor, and Saryk are more closely related to one another than any of them is to the Tekke or Yomut. The other line of evidence that supports the textile data-derived hypothesis of relationships is the geographic distribution of tribes. As shown in Fig.1, the Ersari, Salor, and Saryk lived close to the oasisi at Sarakhs and Bokhara, while the Tekke and Yomut lived in Khorassan. Given the fact that there is a strong statistical tendancy for territorial groups to coincide with descent groups (Irons,1974), this distribution supports the suggestion that the Ersari, Salor, and Saryk are more closely related to one another than any of them is to the Tekke or the Yomut"
of what can be found in this trove of information on Turkmen weaving. While anyone short of an anthropologist will find much here impenetrable (myself included), it's interesting, especially in relation to the subject at hand.
Cavalcade of Ersari Main Carpets
Just some scans of Ersari Main carpets. These really are a cornucopia of Turkmen design
Ersari, from "Carpet Magic" page 37.
Ersari, from "Between Black Desert and Red" plate 55.
Ersari, from "Between Black Desert and Red" plate 56.
Ersari, from "Between Black Desert and Red" plate 57.
East vs West Part V
Hi John, James
Let's take a look at what Richard E. Wright has to say about this
"Engsis have somewhat different sizes, bear an essentially uniform design, vary in secondary and minor motifs, and reflect the properties (weave, yarn, color) alleged (the underpinning links are quite shaky) to characterize the anything but monolithic principal Turkmen confederations. That these groups employed a common pattern fits well with their 17th century co-location on the Mangishlak peninsula prior to having been pushed out by Kalmuks5 and scattered along the Amu Daria river to the northeast as well as along the base of the Elbruz mountains (Asgabad and beyond) to the southeast. (Figure 1) The pattern’s persistence among these subsequently widely scattered and to some extent isolated clans suggests that the design may be fundamental. There is some thought that it is old;6 recent carbon dating studies underscore this possibility."
Of primary significance, this statement
"bear an essentially uniform design, vary in secondary and minor motifs, and reflect the properties (weave, yarn, color) alleged (the underpinning links are quite shaky) to characterize the anything but monolithic principal Turkmen confederations"
for it suggests, that just as with these little triangles used as the structural "building blocks" of rectalimear designs, the engsi format is used by both eastern and western weavers, and in the case of the engsi, dates to the 17th century.
The significance of last image of a Tekke gul, which hasundergone little change in the course of it's long history,lies not only in it's being rendered utilizing these triangular, hence rectalinear building blocks, but especially for thefact that this rectalinear method is used to realize an octalinear design. Consider thefollowing
from the thread Hash Gul Story here on Turkotek, and that notice how the rectalinear "triangle" units are used to render the fundamentals of an octalinear pattern. I would suggest that this Hash gul pattern is about as close as you can get to an archtypal Turkmen design. Even the basic layout, with rows of guls and borders, is rectalinear in nature.
Be back to finish this soon.
From the West...
Gantzhorn, ill. 365
Gantzhorn, ill. 367
Gantzhorn, ill. 378
Find above the primary suspect for early Turkmen carpets, produced during a two hubndred year period spanning the 15th and 17 th centuries. How might these and the following be related?
Rise and Fall of Textiles...
In their phylogenic analysis above, Tehrani and Collard begin their introduction by stating that
"The extent to which the evolution of culture is analogous to biological evolution has been the subject of considerable debate in recent years, as has the corollary issue of linking patterns in the ethnographic and archaeological records with and linguistic data"
and conclude with the assertion that
"phylogenesis was the dominant process in the evolution of Turkmen carpet designs prior to the annexation of their territories, accounting for 70% of the resemblances among woven assemblages. The analyses also show that phylogenesis was the dominant process after 1881, although ethnogenesis accounted for an additional 10% of the resemblances among the assemblages. These results do not support the proposition that ethnogenesis has always been a more significant process in cultural evolution than phylogenesis".
Thus it seems fair to generalize that the Turkmen rather more adapt external design to their own style or method of weaving, than internalize foreign designs or methods.
Given that they are kindered entities, this dichotomy even extending to language, ( in which the Turkmen speak a West Turkic dialect, and the balance of Uzbek, Kirghiz, ect., an East Turkestan dialect) is it fair to extropolate from the Turkmen data that Kirghiz designs are rather more phylogenic than ethnogenic? And if so, how do we explain the central relationship inherent in these two primary designs?
I suggest a model, common to the experiences of both people, Uzbek and Turk, Eastern and western, and centered around the cities of Turkestan.
Remember, that according to Khalter
"Bukhara and Samarkand were cities to equal other centres of the Islamic world like Cairo, Baghdad, or Isfahan. They belonged to the most important cultural centers of the Islamic World"
"Due to the political decay of Turkestan and it's shift from the centre of a huge world empire in the 14th century to an isolated peripheral situation, late medieval cultural traditions survived untill our own time. This makes the study of the recent cultures of Turkestan so fertil, but at the same time so difficult; they can only be understood from a historical point of view",
"one has been accustomed to seeing Turkestan as a country on the periphery, in a dead area of the worlds history. However, this is a late historical development. During the longest period in it's history which we can consider Turkestan was a country situated in the centre, a country that was traversed by peoples, merchants, and armies. This undoubtedly brought a lot of unrest and suffering, but also long periods of affluence and brilliant culture"
and I suspect this Tekke Guli gul to be a relic of this distant, textile based culture in which ikat seems to have played a long and important role. With, as discribed by Khalter,
"It's exremely varied patterns range from simple stripes to zigzag patterns through curved lines, to hooks, "cloudband" and circular ornamentation, classic Islamic motifs such as combinations of stars and crosses, reminescent of Seljuk tiling, realistic and abstract human figures and trees of life"
is the Tekke Gulli gul as seen in the Tekke main carpet design,
an ikat pattern in the form of an arabesque?
Rectangles vs Octagons
But what does all this tell us about this Ersari chuval?
The manner of the drawing,and especially the use of this "triangle" structure in the chemche gul and elsewhere says to me either a more western geographic origin, an earlier period of manufacture, or both, as we read from Thompson above
"The oldest weavings of each tribe frequently provide suprisingly clear evidence of an early relationship between them in terms of their designs. The further back we look the more comon ground
we find, which points to a common ancestry for many Turkmen designs. As the awareness of Turkmen weavings has grown and previously unknown old rugs becomw available for study, similarities between the tribes emerge that are not evident in later examples.This suggests that some designs have originated from a common ancestor at some time in the distant past and that these designs have undergone successive modifications in the hands of different tribes"
and the unusual devices of the elem say much the same as well. I suspect this chuval to be an early example of Ersari weaving, based upon the information I have at my disposal, but it's just an estimate.
Follow this link to a discussion of Ersari Chuvals by David Reuben