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Thirty Turkmen Rugs -
Masterpieces from the Collection of S. M. Dudin
Part II (Saryk Weavings)

by Elena Tsareva

Originally appeared in Oriental Rug Review, Vol. 11, #1

6. SARYQ Turkoman, TORBA
3'8"x1'1" (110x33 cm.)
Late 17th/early 18th century, SME No. 26-27

Design: Diamond gul
Wool, ivory, Z2S, slightly spun, slightly depressed
Weft: Wool, brown, Z2S, two shoots
Wool Z2S; symmetric, count: 10 horizontal (41), 26 vertical (103), 260 per square inch (4,223 dm2); uneven knotting; natural dyes
Colors: Cherry red, orange, olive brown, dark blue, blue, green, ivory
Red-orange wool plait on 3 warps
Upper: Red and ivory flatweave folded over to back and sewn down; Lower: Ivory flatweave cut down; remains of multicolored fringe on 4 warps, dark blue fringe sewn on later

Purchased: 1901, Merv, "mafrach Tekke, pile, woolen, old"
Published: Tsareva, Rugs, pl. 2l; Tsareva Hali 1/3 1978, p. 10 (top)

Dudin combined Saryk and Salor weavings into one group calling them “Pendeh” while we know at the time of his travels in Central Asia, that the Pendeh Oasis was inhabited by the Saryk while the Salor lived mostly in Serakhs. Dudin's theory that the Saryk did not weave carpets is very strange, and one wonders on what information this misconception was based.

It is peculiar that a man with such a sensitivity to the aesthetics of the carpets did not distinguish and identify Saryk weaving as different from that of the other tribes, often attributing their weavings to the Salor as well as the Tekke and Yomud groups.

Possibly the great differences in age and appearance of the Saryk pieces bought by Dudin accounts for this error. The earliest examples, woven in the 18th - early 19th centuries, differ greatly from those later weaving (later than 1830). The same can be said about Saryk and even Tekke pile weavings, though the reasons are completely different. In 1832, the Salor tribe was defeated by the Tekke, thereby enriching the weaving traditions of both the Saryks and the conquering Tekke, probably by absorbing elements of the Salor into their tribes. This year of 1832 is as important a date in the history of Turkmen weaving as is the year 1880 with the fall of the Tekke at Geok Tepe and the commercialization of the weaving craft for export and inter tribal trade.

7. SARYQ Turkoman, CHUVAL
4'4"x2"10" (132x88 cm.)
18th century, SME No. 26-75

Design: Salor gul
Warp: Wool, ivory, Z2S, depressed (?)
Wool, brown and gray, Z2S, loosely twisted, two shoots
Knot: Wool, silk and cotton Z2S, (crimson red); wool and silk loosely twisted; symmetric; count 13 horizontal (50), 18 vertical (70), 234 per square inch (3,500 dm2)
Bright cherry red, crimson red, pink (wool) pink (silk), salmon, dark yellow, olive brown; dark blue, dark blue-green, white (cotton); natural dyes
Sides: Missing
Upper. Ivory flatweave folded over to back and sewn down; Lower: Missing

Purchased: 1901, Samarkand, "Kap, piled, woolen, with silk, Tekke, old"
Published: Tsareva, Rugs, p. 24; Tsareva, Hali 1/3, 1978, p. 279, Hali, 7/3, 1985, p. 19

In all there are 16 Saryk pile weaving in the Dudin Collection at the State Museum of Ethnography plus a yolami in the Hermitage 14. All of them are truly wonderful and among these, I believe, are the oldest and most beautiful of all Turkmen tent bags, as determined by both colour and design. In describing the Saryk portion of the collection, I arranged the material according to age beginning with the oldest.

Identifying the proper attribution for torba 6 is very difficult. Dudin himself attributed it to the Tekke. One may be misled by some
features of the primary border (kotchanak) and the the field design (chemche) as well as the colouring of the original fringe (not dark blue as in the 19th century torbas but rather mixed). The deep cherry red of the ground and the technique (symmetric knot), type of warp and weft lead us to attribute it to the Saryk, belonging to the early Amu Darya period of this tribe, ie. late 17th-early 18th century. Undoubtedly, the gols of the central field are very archaic and ceased being used long ago.

8. SARYQ Turkoman, MAFRASH
2'3"x1'1" (69x32 cm)
Late 18th-early 19th century. SME No. 26-22

Design: White Panel
Warp: Wool, ivory, some reddish, Z2S, slightly depressed
Weft: Wool, gray-brown, in places brown mixed with ivory, in the center dyed red, Z2S, loosely spun, loosely twisted; two shoots
Knot: Wool and silk, Z2S; symmetric, multitude of offset knots, some sharing knots (two knots on three warps); count: 12 horizontal (47), 16 vertical (64), 192 per square inch (3,008 dm2); pile looks down
Colors: Deep red, orange-red, orange, pink (silk), violet-brown, brown, bright dark blue, bright blue-green, blue, ivory; natura1 dyes
Sides: Dark blue wool plait on 2 pairs of warps; remains of late tassel in the right corner
Ends: Upper: Red and ivory flatweave, folded over to the back and sewn down; Lower: Dark blue flatweave cut down, remains of dark blue fringe on 8 warps close to the pile

Purchased: Merv, "mafrach Salor, pile, woolen, with silk, fringe cut down
Published: First publication

The second Saryk piece, also of the Amu Darya period, is chuval no. 7, my favorite of the group. It shows a very popular composition with the so-called Salor gol and the unusual variant of intermediate chuval gols. The noble shape of the naldag border and gols, the spacious drawing over the field of the weaving gives an impression of these gols with pink silk centers floating on the deeply saturated red ground. These features contribute to my feeling this is one of the most beautiful Turkmen weavings known . The prominent aesthetic of the chuval corresponds with the high level of craftsmanship, a beautiful soft wool, a lovely sparkling patina, and a fine weave.

Even among the extremely rich Saryk, part of Dudin's collection, no. 8 is very unique. At first glance, one might mistake it for a Tekke Avila 15, but a second glance reveals its true origin. There are four panels instead of the usual three seen in Tekke
examples, the minor elements of the primary motif differs from that seen in Tekke drawing, and the brighter (but at the same time more subtle colouring) all set it apart from comparable weavings of the Tekke. Other points to be mentioned are large quantities of silk in the pile and the symmetric knot combined with a a multitude of offset and some shared knots, which are extremely rare in Turkmen weavings. Taking into consideration that Avlia, as with other Owlands, were a religious group, not tribal, it is possible to suppose that this mafrash may be attributed to the Saryk-Avlia.

Additional features such as a reddish tint with brown has worn at a different rate than the other colours, and Dudin's supposition that the piece was 'antique' at the time of purchase (1901), suggest a possible 18th century date corresponding with the Amu Darya period of Saryk weavings.

9. SARYQ Turkoman, ENSl
6'4"x4'9" (192x144 cm)
19th century, SME No. 26-17

Design: Ensi Nagysh
Warp: Wool, ivory, Z2S, rather tight, slightly depressed
Weft: Wool, brown, Z2S, fine, two shoots
Knot: Wool and cotton, Z2S; symmetric; count: l0 horizontal (41), 15 vertical (59), 150 per square inch (2,419 dm2)
Colors: Cherry red, orange, olive brown, dark blue, dark green, white (cotton); natural dyes
Sides: Two warps overcase with brown wool
Ends: Upper: Brown flatweave folded over to the back and sewn down, one additional brown weft over two warps on the front; late brown and white loop in the right corner; Lower: 20 cm brown and ivory flatweave with two multicolored plaits

Purchased: 1901, Merv, "ensi, door hanging, Salor pile, woolen, with cotton"
Published: First publication

The ensi featured here (no. 9)looks later and probably dates to the Merv-Pendeh period. Saryk ensis are the most complicated in composition f these itmes, representing a cosmic view of the universe; seven heavens at the top, the earth (zamin) at the bottom and images of the surrounding world in the middle. Regarding the dating, Dudin associated importance to the varying rates of corrosion as seen in the pile, resulting in an uneven texture to the surface. From personal experience, I know that a bleached white wool as well as a certain black dyed wool prove to be very corrosive over time, while madder red and indigo blue show little if any evidence of these corrosive qualities. Based on these observations, it is usually accepted that weavings with definite differences of dark blue and red pile levels can be dated as 150 years old or more.

The final weaving presented here is a torba (no. 10) with the kejebe design. The variation of this ancient pattern is one of the most elaborate and leaves no doubt as to what is being depicted; it is neither a “lamp” or “sacrificial altar” but rather the “tree of life” in an extremely expressive form. This torba is dated to the classical Pendeh period, mid 19th century. With the interplay of silk and cotton highlights, it represents the highest level of Saryk weaving.

10. SARYQ Turkoman, TORBA
4'2"x1'4" (126x40 cm)
First half 19th century, SME No. 37-13

Design: Kejebe
Warp: Wool, ivory mixed with brown, Z2S, Slightly depressed
Weft: Wool, brown, Z2S, loose, two shoots
Knot: Wool, silk and cotton loose, Z2S, silk Z2S and Z4S; symmetric; count: 12- 13 horizontal (48-50), 2.5 vertical (98), 325 per square inch (4, 802 dm2)
Colors: Cherry red, pink (silk), bright red, brown, dark blue, dark blue, green, white (cotton); natural dyes.
Sides: Some warps wrapped over with cherry red wool
Ends: Upper: Dark blue and ivory flatweave folded over to the back and sewn down; Lower: Dark blue and ivory flatweave

Purchased: 1902, "mafrach, Pendeh, woolen, with silk pile"
Published: Tsareva, Rugs, pl. 15; Tsareva Hali 1/3 1978, p. 279 (bottom)

Dudin paid great attention to smaller format Turkmen weavings, and described this phenomenon in graphic terms:

“ Of special beauty and fine manufactured are bags, mafrashes and asmalyks. In them, mostly in Salors, and also in Tekkes white and pink wool is often replaced by silk of the same colours and also in Salor weaving, white wool by cotton, introducing into the pile another characteristic which increases their beauty even more.
This quality of Turkmen rugs, in addition to other reasons, can be explained by the fact that all items are used, aside from their practical function, as decorationfor the yurts. When put on camels during migrations and wedding ceremonies, they served as publicity for the family, visual evidence of the weavers' skill, the brides and wives. It was the competition of the inhabitants of various yurts that created the superbe examples of carpet craftsmanship which one admires in his travel on the Turkmen steppes and local carpet shops.”

Notes by Elena Tsareva

l4. see literature listed in Notes for Tsareva, E.G., "Saryk Tent Bags in the State Museum of Ethnography of the Peoples of the U.S.S.R.," Hali, Vol. 1, No. 3, 1978, p. 280. This article illustrates I3 Saryq pieces collected by Dudin in black and white, 10 of which are not included in this exhibition.

. Avlias and Owlads are religious families descended from the Prophet Mohammed. About Owlads, see Demidov, S. Turkoman Owlads (in Russian), Ashkhabad, 1976; Atayev, K., "Some Data on the Ethnography of Turkoman Shikhs' in Trudy Instuta istorii, Archeologii i Ethnografiya, ANTSSR, v. 7, Ashkhabad, I963 (in Russian).

Copyright 1989 by Elena Tsareva. Original text and photographs appeared in Oriental Rug Review,
With much thanks, this article was reproduced with permission by Ron O'Callaghan and Elena Tsareva
No parts of this text nor the photos may be reproduced in any form without permission from Ron O'Callaghan, Elena Tsareva or myself