Rug Origins: Central Asia Rugs

Last updated on: May 13, 2024

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Rug Origins: Central Asia Rugs

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Central Asian carpets include those woven by many people in what were formerly the Turkmen, Uzbek, Karakalpaks, Kyrgyz, Tajik, and Kazakh in northern and northeastern Persia, Afghanistan, and in the Turkic areas of Xinjiang in western China.

Central Asian carpets fall into two basic groups characterizing two artistic traditions. First, are the carpets of the Turkic nomadic people like the Turkmen and the Kazakhs of western and northern Turkestan. They developed a broad range of carpet items like tent bands, utility bags, and camel trappings to fulfill both decorative and practical functions. The second group consists of commercial carpets woven in towns mainly in Eastern Turkestan, which are more likely to exhibit the imprint of artistic influences from China to the southeast and Persia to the southwest.

Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan is renowned as producers of oriental carpets, known primarily by the name ‘Bukhara’. They obtained this name because Bukhara was the main trading center and place from which they began the journey to western markets.

The largest producers of rugs have been the Turkmens who are located mainly in Turkmenistan. In Uzbekistan, the principal weavers are Uzbeks, Kirgyz, Arabs, Karakalpaks and some Turkmen.

Turkman carpets or “Bukhara” carpets have generally been attributed to six major tribes, as well as to several minor ones, based on characteristic göls. The six major Turkman tribes were the Tekke, Salor, Saryk, Yomut, Chaudor, and Ersari.

The dominant color of Turkman rugs is red. The red color derived from the madder root suitable to dye both plant and animal-based textiles paired with different dyeing techniques and such substances as dried yogurt, alum, and urine. The red wool in Turkman rugs varies from darkest walnut-brown through mahogany to purple-crimson and scarlet.

Sheep’s wool was the preferred fiber for both pile and foundation in Turkman weaving. Silk and Cotton are sometimes found in small accents in the pile and goat or another animal hair was sometimes used for warp and weft. Turkman pile rugs display a variety of knot structures. Yarns spun counterclockwise (Z-spun) are used in mostly all Turkman weaving. It may also be twisted together in a clockwise direction (S-plied) to make stronger and thicker warp, weft, and pile yarns.

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