Sunday, November 6, 2022

It has long been suspected that the Turkmen influenced the weavers of the great Classical carpets going back to the 11th century onwards, and it can therefore be said that Turkmenistan is the 'cradle of weaving'.

We have to look pre-1900 for the purest Turkmen carpets, rugs and utilitarian weavings, those unaffected by the commercial markets of the early 20th century onwards. For hundreds of years, the lifestyle of these nomadic peoples was little altered until the 19th century, when a series of blows was inflicted on Turkmen society as neighbouring countries, including Russia and Persia, began to subjugate these fiercely independent people. Tragically, the traditional culture and way of life of the Turkmen was gradually destroyed.

One particular weaving, which was symbolically important to the Turkmen, and featured here, was the Turkmen Wedding Rug.

In 1970 when working among the Yomut Turkmen, Mugul Andrews was aware of a young girl working at a loom by herself. She asked the young girl, who was a member of that household, what her little rug was to be used for. She didn't answer! She asked again but received no reply from the girl. When Mugul insisted, the young girlk put her finger to her lips as a sign to keep quiet. At breakfast the next day, the young girl volunteered that the rug she was weaving was to be used at her wedding. She explained that it was a highly-prized rug where she will sit on it as though it were her throne and take her marriage vows. After the wedding, she and her husband will sit on it together alone and drink the sherbet brought to them and break bread together. They will make each other a promise to be faithful. A few days later, the young girl will take the rug under her arm and go to her mother-in-law when she will kiss her hand. On returning to the marriage yurt, the rug will not be used agaiun except for guests to sit on.

She added that for such an important rug, she shouldn't talk while weaving it as the smallest piece of gossip, a lie or bad talk could ruin its cleanliness. As a symbol of her wedding, it had to be knotted under very special conditions.

The wedding rug illustrated here was made by Ersary Turkmen in the Middle Amu Darya region of Turkmenistan circa 1860-1870. It has the most beautiful glossy madder-red ground depicting two vertical rows of five Ersary 'guls' (tribal crests) in full pile. The checkerboard flatweave skirts remain at both ends and the rug has no repairs whatsoever. A truly magnificent and rare example of an Ersary tribal wedding rug.

Size: 1.42m x 1.07m (4' 8" x 3' 6").