Posted by R. John Howe on 05-25-2007 08:56 PM:

Unusual Claim About a Less Unusual Bag

Dear folks -

In Selcuk I spent quite a bit of time with another Ottoman antique dealer, who no longer does much with rugs and textiles (although he had some interesting items).

Among the textiles he had were three Yomut flatwoven bags that seemed not terribly remarkable. Here is the best one. It appears to have natural dyes:

This Yomut bag measures 72 X 43 cm. It is entirely flatwoven, not like the Tekkes Pat Weiler bought, that have a mixed technique. This bag is smaller than most Turkmen chuvals and larger than most torbas. One of these three bags had tieing cords and I conjectured out loud that these were smaller-sized tent bags that were tied into the trellis sides of the yurt to serve as a species of "chest of drawers" on the wall.

This Ottoman dealer surprised me by denying that these bags were merely smaller tent bags. He said that they had a particular specialized function. That they were tied around the waist of Yomut farmers and used to sow grain.

I've read a bit of the Turkmen literature in English, but have never heard of this usage. I asked him how he knew that these bags were used in this way for sowing.

He said that he had seen a photograph of a Turkmen farmer with one tied around his waist while he scattered seed grain. He could not recall where he had seen this photo, but has promised to alert me if he encounters it again.

Informed of this claim, some dealers I subsequently visited observed that nomads are enormously practical and would readily use a given format, perhaps made primarily for one set of purposes, for another, such as sowing, should that need arise.

One dealer said that even if we found the photo and it showed the sowing use as claimed, this would still not establish that such bags are a specialized format, since they could well have been used for sowing and then for other things as well.

I thought, though, that this Ottoman dealer's rather vehement claim about this size bag was different from any I had previously heard.

Has anyone else run into this claimed use, or perhaps seen this photograph?


R. John Howe