Posted by R. John Howe on 05-30-2007 03:20 PM:

A Turkish Chuval of the Non-Grain-Bag Sort

Dear folks

In her catalog "Giving Back the Colors," Josephine Powell talks about Anatolian kilims and two broad categories of bags.

The first we've already treated in the "grain bag" thread (their makers call them "dimi cuval"). But there is a second sort of Turkish bag (actually there is a third too, but it is seldom interesting aesthetically). This second sort of bag is used to store bedding, clothing and various household items. They are called "ala cuval."

The grain bags are quite fine and their designs are horizontally placed. The "ala cuvals" tend to be somewhat coarser and their designs are sometimes woven horizontally and sometimes vertically.

I bought the "ala cuval" below in the Cappadocia area after considering two of them.

Here is the brocaded area up closer.

This bag has been used and there is damage in the brocaded area.

The image below is of one back panel back a little closer.

This image below is of the other ala cuval I considered.

It has a brocaded design that seems more dramatic to me, but less range of color in its striped panels.

The Powell catalog has pieces the designs of which seem close to both of these two ala cuvals above.

Here, below, is Powell Plate 238.

The designs on this bag seem close to those on the one I bought. Powell describes it as "Karakoyunlu," that is, woven by members of a Yoruk group of that name in southeastern Anatolia

Powell Plate 272 seems similar to the one I was considering but decided against.

Powell calls it "Kurdish or Afsar." It was also woven in southeastern Anatolia.

Bag 6 in the NERS exhibition on bags is another example of an ala cuval.

If you look down a bit, the NERS description includes photos showing how these bags are used.

Thoughts and comments are invited.


R. John Howe

Posted by R. John Howe on 06-01-2007 10:04 AM:

Dear folks -

We've talked in the Kyrgyz thread about the visual judgements we make about colors, especially those we use to indicate whether the colors of a piece might suggest that its dyes are, at least in part, synthetic.

One of the checks of this sort we make is to compare the shades on the front of the piece with those on the back. If the shades on the back are too much darker (or brighter) we begin to wonder about the dyes in the piece in question.

With that in mind, look at another photo of this cuval I bought.

Notice that the red is noticeably more definite on the back of this piece than it is on the front. The green is quite different, too.

This bag show signs of having been used and if it was, was likely exposed to light for extended periods (for example, during migration). It is known that even natural dyes are not immune to sun burn and would fade some under such conditions.

It was my considered judgment at purchase that these color differences are due to exposure to light and not a sign that this red and this green should be suspected of being synthetics.

But, again, who knows without chemical test?

This is the kind of decision we collectors are faced with often as we consider something for purchase. My sense is that I tend to apply a somewhat looser standard in this regard than do some experienced collectors. I expect that is, in part, because I do not always see the likely presence of a synthetic dye as disqualifying.


R. John Howe

Posted by Lars_Jurell on 06-01-2007 01:11 PM:

The back of your cuval is green and the front seems more blue.
As green is a mix of blue on yellow yarn or yellow on blue yarn I suppose your cuval has the green dyed as yellow on blue yarn. And as the cuval front has been exposed for sun and daily use, the green has turned to blue - the yellow is gone.
But this is only my guess.
Lars Jurell