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-   -   Your thoughts on chemche guls of a Tekke main (http://www.turkotek.com/VB37/showthread.php?t=5618)

Andrew Leng April 14th, 2019 09:45 PM

Your thoughts on chemche guls of a Tekke main
Has this old turkomen main a story to tell?

You have been most helpful with my odds and ends, I wondered what your thoughts are on the chemche guls of this carpet?


It “looked old”, that well-worn saying, but interesting & somehow a bit magical even if also a bit care worn and patched, hiding under a table in an auction. So I bought it. I did not know at the time it was probably what is referred to as a tekke main.

Life has been hard to it. It has been cut and shut (second row of main gul from lhs); to make it look like a classic 10x4 gull? It must have been at least a 10x5 Gul. Not to mention the terrible patching and a horrid back from a glue? (and yes it was cheap, but interesting.)
The colour of the main field red has a lot of abrash, from uneven dying (not a modern artificial abrash). It shows on the back so it’s not so much caused by fading

Along the edge it has what I assume to be “the light purplish grey overcasting one finds so often” Richard Larkin mentioned in the threat on the very nice main posted by Paul Smith in 2008. http://www.turkotek.com/misc_00092/tekke.htm:-
It is not of the same smart design of that main. Some of the minor design features of this main are more casual/folksy? than usual.

First the Main guls: (Note: The cut and shut has made one line of main guls have both greeny blue and dark blue in the same gul. I have not illustrated this.)

At top of rug picture the first three rows of guls do not have the greeny blue quadrant. Nor do the small border octagons along this length have any greeny blue.


Then green appears in both as though someone got hold of some green wool or is this where it ran out. How do I tell from which end it was woven?


The chemche minor guls vary:


The second row (from the top of picture) at the “all blue major gull” end are a somewhat different design. My first thought was that if these standard designs are done from memory that a different worker did that row.
This idea fitted with the rather casual way the lengths of the other chemche gul vary from 13 cm for the first one to 8 cm of the central one. One of the small central guls also has the inner end hooks "the wrong way round" at one end.


People often say later examples exhibit a deterioration in their layout. I am not sure if these irregularities are what they mean. It is a bit rough and ready so you could look at this rather unruly example as degraded compared to other examples where better care has been taken in the manufacture. But it was originally a major endevour.

Looking round the internet at 21 other Tekke mains with Chemche secondry guls. Four of them had the second row of secondry guls different.
3 had the first complete row different
There was one with varying secondary chemche guls seemingly distributed randomly over the rug.
(I also saw a chemche rug where a single minor gul was different but this time the odd one was, If I remember right, a Gurbaghe type.)
This positioning of a different row of chemche gul pattern in the second or first row seems to be deliberate. And not that uncommon.
I found a comment by Jim Allen [The initial row of larger main gulls is often associated with minor gulls different from the rest.]

I wonder what is the reason for this regular location of the guest Chemche gul
Is it a sign of friendship between two groups or more romantically a sign of a marriage with the wife’s design included in the husbands . I think the latter reason more reasonable; would a group be happy with such a small showing.
(Jim Allen suggests “I suspect this indicated something about the Khan’s or clan’s linage to knowledgeable supplicants.”)

This format has been going on for some time eg Image 89 Quaradashli 16th or 17thC (Turkomen Carpets a New Perspective Jurg Rageth) The second and middle secondary gull are different. (I did not include this in my tekke count).
(I did see it in a few old smaller rugs: 3x7 and 3x8 gul)

This layout seems to have disappeared in more recent rugs.

Anyway that is something for you to get your teeth into.

Thanks for the chance to chat.


Chuck Wagner April 14th, 2019 10:29 PM

Hi Andrew,

I'll start with a couple comments and then take some time to study your images some more.

First, regarding the direction of weaving - all piled weavings I am aware of have the open end of the knot pointing toward the bottom of the piece.

The kilim end is woven, a couple wefts are laid in and pounded down, and then knots are added on the warps - and tugged downward to lock them. Then more weft, more knots, more wefts, more pounding, etc.

Some weaving groups don't pound the wefts at all and the resulting fabric has a noticably loose and floppy feel. On the other end of the scale is a Bijar piece where the cotton wefts are first wetted and then pounded, and hard, to make a fabric that you can't actually fold flat without breaking it.

To do all this against gravity on a vertical loom - or shoving everything away from the weaver on a horizontal loom, would make the process problematic and prone to defects, so if there are any " upside down " weaving groups out there, they are probably obscure at best and better known for other products made more sensibly.

So run your hand up and down the long axis of the rug; you should feel your hand drag against the open end of the pile. Alternatively, just look at it from both ends; it will be darker when you are looking into the open ends of the knots.

That will be the bottom.

As for the variable chemches, well, if you have both the time and the inclination to tediously measure and count, we can embark on - yet another - discussion about weaving density and knot counts on the major guls. Your images show clearly, that the separation between the major guls is variable and the chemches look shorter (vertically) in the spots where the majors are more crowded.


Andrew Leng April 15th, 2019 09:17 AM

Hi Chuck
Good logic it shows I'm not a practical weaver or very observant.

I might skip the knot counts bit I always find that a bit difficult.


Rich Larkin April 15th, 2019 03:20 PM

Hi Andrew,

I don't have much time at the moment, but my general comment about this rug is that it is much better than you seem to fear. It is not a late, degraded version of the Tekke tradition. Good one by you to have nipped it out of that auction.

I do not quite get where the 'cut and shut' treatment occurred. Can you elaborate?


Andrew Leng April 15th, 2019 08:24 PM

Rich yes will do.

On the overview picture look at the bottom row of main guls..

The right-hand end has two blue-green quadrants (top right bottom left).

The next row on the left has top right dark blue bottom left blue green. it is obvious from the rug this has been cut- through two adjacent? main guls of different colour and a bit removed.

The next row on the left have dark blue top right bottom and left quadrants.

The left-hand row have blue green top right blue green bottom left quadrants

Andrew Leng April 15th, 2019 08:36 PM

I have been and stroked my rug.

Apparently I have photographed it upside down. the blue-green section is at the top of the rug, woven last.
The first four main guls woven, first are at the top of the picture and have both quadrants dark blue
This would indicate that after the rug was started somebody came along with a nice blue green wool which they decided to incorporate into the design.

This seems to add to the charm / interesting history of this rug. To me anyway.

I do not see it as a commercial product.

Rich Larkin April 16th, 2019 03:57 AM

Hi Andrew,

Is the seam of this vertical cut obvious? It looks like a slick job from here.


Andrew Leng April 16th, 2019 08:47 AM

Yes it's quite a good job. To my shame i missed it in the auction.
In my defence the table had cabriole legs and it was difficult to crawl around under and no chance of moving it out and a full turn over. . I was distracted by that horrid pink patch on upper left and valuing the ghastly glue back and bits of ware. It looked nice, much older than i had ever seen before so I thought I would have low bid and research it. - before I found turkotek.:)

Patrick Weiler April 17th, 2019 04:46 AM

Changing Chemches
I like your piece. Perhaps the green and lack of cochineal would put it a generation earlier than my Tekke rug. Here is a picture of part of it. The upper minor gol is bigger than the one below it, though the designs are the same - unlike differing designs in yours. The upper version has a knot more than the lower version in small areas such as the central horizontal projections. But there is also compression due to either thinner wool (more knots per inch) or more pressure on the knots when they were hammered down during the manufacture. This rug has substantially different sizes of the guls in some areas, but not necessarily all the way across the rug in any given horizontal stretch. One would assume that the weavers realized that there were differences in the size of the motifs and did this on purpose - though what that purpose was is unknown.


Patrick Weiler

Unregistered April 17th, 2019 02:33 PM

I give up.
Hi Patrick,

"One would assume that the weavers realized that there were differences in the size of the motifs and did this on purpose...."

Or, different weavers were taking their turns from time to time....?


Andrew Leng April 17th, 2019 09:15 PM

Patrick and Rich

My thoughts too were that the rug with a communal effort by different individuals for some domestic purpose and not produced to a control standard. Which one might do if you had an eye to trade or show.

I'm still intrigued why a specific row of minor guls is different in so many versions.

I have not studied the main border patterns being a bit dazzled by its complexity. The variety of patterns must have cultural significance. It's not quite so easy to compare these on different internet images.

Chuck Wagner April 18th, 2019 01:11 AM

Hi Andrew,

Here is a small (4x7 ft or so) Tekke rug we have that displays similar variability in the minor (and major) guls.

I think it is late 19th century. There is no noticable green on this one and ample but artful use of cochineal, a point that Pat raised. I was drawn to it by the use of different motifs in the elem ends.

The border motifs and colors on yours point to an earlier age, mid 19th century and possibly earlier.

You can see that the aspect ratio of the major guls varies along the length of this rug, and if you start counting the little diamond motifs in the minor guls you will see where the differences in size and execution show up; a few of the minor guls are substantialy larger than the rest.




Rich Larkin April 18th, 2019 01:56 AM

Hi Andrew,

Of course, the variation in the minor guls is all to the good; you agree, yes? The more I study your rug, the better I like it. And, as to the glue, at least it only appears in a few spots, right?

I once bought a small (2' X 3') Hamadan mat that was mid-20th century department store material, but old enough to have good colors, that had a thick coating of some sort of glue, or rubbery compound, slathered all over the back. I suspect it was originally intended to be a non-slip treatment; but age and long service on the floor had changed the coating to a hard, smooth business that encouraged slippage rather than minimized it, and would have stopped a bullet in the bargain. I bought it for the express purpose of experimenting with methods to remove the coating. I tried everything I could think of, and never touched it.


Andrew Leng April 20th, 2019 08:12 PM

Hi Chuck.
That's a nice little rug I do like the elam ends.

Hi Rich,
Yes I do like the variation in these old rugs. Moving it into the spring sunshine today to get clearer pictures reminds me why you love it so much. ( The dark northern winter's house lights even with the best lighting do not let it exhibit its full beauty).
The subtle variation in shade of the background colours across the rug is beautiful and gentle. not that much overworked word abrash which now seems to mean something out of a digital print system where alternating rows and knots have to hit you in the eye with different shades.

The design variation in this rug also seem closer to a tradition but I must admit I admire some of the beautiful smart ones.

One good thing about discussing details here. It makes me go back and look at the rug to see where I can take a photograph best showing a good example. In doing so this time I realise it might have been a tape that has been applied and then removed leaving a coating of adhesive behind.. There is a broad strip right round the edge and then broad strips about every 9 inches across the carpet. I can live with it.

The other issue I have is that pinkie patch.

It jumps out at you being thicker than the rest of the rug. When I first saw it on the floor of the auction I thought little touch of dye to hide that because it drags your eye to it. At first sight I thought it was a piece cut-out of another rug and stuck in. On closer inspection it seems to have been carefully woven in to pattern but surely not with such an unsympathetic colour originally.

This leads onto looking at the similar is pink knots, scattered here and there, all over the rug. Have these faded out or someone pulled from a different hank of wool. They do not show so obviously on the back. (remember the octagons are turned over so the white dot at 2 am top right slope on the back is 11 o’clock top left slope.





Rich Larkin April 21st, 2019 03:00 AM

Hi Andrew,

It looks as though a repairer used wool dyed with poor quality dyes for the repair. The surface faded to pink, gray, etc. It is not an uncommon phenomenon with rugs repaired years ago, probably in the Middle East.

Those pink sections are interesting, as the yarn is nearly a perfect match on the back, where light exposure has been minimal. Try spreading the pile on the surface side of the pink to see if the wool is a different color at the base of the knots. You may find the repair knots are symmetrical, whereas the original rug uses asymmetrical knots.


Andrew Leng April 22nd, 2019 09:20 PM

Hope from these two pictures you can see the individual knots on the back, The two different hanks of wool were obviously used during the manufacture..

The pink looks softer and hasn't worn as much as the orange colour.

The pink colour does not change down the knot, They do however look a bit more matching on the back?
In other places they match better on the back.



Patrick Weiler April 24th, 2019 09:20 PM

From the back it is easy to spot the replacement red, which has faded to pink on the front and from the back is a more reddish color than the surrounding original knots. The front photo shows also what appears to be a few purple/lavender knots in the middle of the replacement red. From the back these knots seem to be thinner and a bit lighter than the original blue below the repair. These smaller Turkmen pieces are a handy size to use as furnishing pieces - or wall art - than the much larger main carpets.
Patrick Weiler

Andrew Leng April 26th, 2019 07:30 PM

Hi Patrick
I'm afraid to me it doesn't seem right to call these pink knots replacement knots.
The fact that there's the odd row or knot here are there seems odd.
Back in the day of the pink wool there was the odd knot missing so someone replace them. Ok but why have there been no more knots disappeared since then? There's no: odd random patches, holes or missing knots very obvious.

“These smaller Turkmen pieces are a handy size to use as furnishing pieces - or wall art - than the much larger main carpets. “ This is a turkoman main.

Andrew Leng April 29th, 2019 06:18 PM

I was reading some of the Old Posts from 2008. There was lady called Sue Zimmerman who passed comments about wool, spinning and quality. I remember seeing her web pages in passing intending to cme back later. I can't find them on the net now I guess time has passed. anyone got any links?

Oh and this popped up because I once looked up something on academia

There are a whole lot more articles on rugs highlighted listed on it.

David Katz May 6th, 2019 02:28 AM

Chemche guls
Dear Andrew,

As you discovered in your research, design variations in secondary guls are not uncommon in Tekke weavings, though by no means ubiquitous. Here's an example from a main carpet in my collection; at least 3 different variations, and possible a fourth in the hemi-guls at the top edge of the central field.



Enjoy your beautiful carpet.

David Katz

Alex Wolfson May 14th, 2019 03:48 AM

Hello Andrew,
That looks to be an example of pre-Russian period main carpet. Notice the absence of an inner guard border, which is a pretty reliable indicator of earlier pieces. Variations in the minor gul - both in size and shape - also seem also to appear more frequently on earlier Tekke (and Ersari group) rugs, becoming more standardised in the second half of the nineteenth century.
I hadn't noted before that this might occur more frequently in the second row, so this could be an interesting area for further research.
Congratulations on a good find!

Andrew Leng May 19th, 2019 07:11 PM

I had not really noticed the simplicity of the inner border. What caught my attention was the totally different main border with its combination of hexagons separated by bars with combs? and zig zags caught my attention. The origins of this sort of design are intriguing. They seem to apper on earlir rugs.

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