Clay Stewart Collection of Türkmen Textiles

1. Merv Teke Türkmen çüwal

Ca. 1880. Size: 4 ft. 1 in. x 2 ft. 1½ in.

Technical Description
Structure:

13 x 35 = 455 asymmetrical kpsi, pulled open to the right, with a width/height ratio of nearly 1:3, resulting in a medium flat Salyr and a medium handle.  Slightly depressed left warps show from the back creating a rib effect by the protruding right warp.  The front face of a single tent bag with the original flat woven backing removed.  Usually woven in pairs to distribute weight evenly on the camel.  Hand spun, drop spindled, then combed wool, in the foundation (wefts and warps) and in knot shoots.  Wool is bred, then hand processed, to give a straight spiky shiny sparkling wool tuft for this type of knot.  Bleached hand processed white cotton highlights throughout the rug are usually not found in Teke weaves but rather Saryk ones.  Both wool and cotton knots are closely cut. Top and bottom ends have a one inch flat woven web immediately following the nap in a dark blue & then red weft horizontal band followed by a natural beige wool kelim edge, cut, turned under and sewn on top.  Dark blue band preceding natural blonde wool, cut, turned under and sewn on bottom.  Invisible weft from the back uses two wool shoots. Pile runs from bottom to top.  Straight combed blonde wool warps.  Fine weave.  Cut pile velvet feel to the pile.

Use:

Transport cartage bag, property of a high ranking Teke Turkmen, a very fine quality textile.

Ornamentation:

Six turreted Salyr main güls in two rows of three, outlined in medium blue, also called Karlyk gül, Shield gül, and Mary gül  (Mary means Merv) Teke çüwals with Salyr main gül ornaments are common in Merv during the end of 19th century. These güls are outlined in light blue and lined on the inside with outward facing gelin barmak pattern and a inner yashil gochakvariation.  Eight eight-point stars inside squares surround inner crosses to form two minor Sagdak star emblems and ten partially hidden Sagdak star emblems with Aÿna güls inside.  Two small guard borders with diamond and cross motifs flank a main khaikelbagi border, the so called repeated British flag border design also used in a woman’s jewelry amulet bag and women’s belts. 

Unusual features:

The centers of each main gül in two complete minor and ten partially hidden minor Charky palek emblems are highlighted with bleached white cotton, along with same highlights in the borders.  Bottom apron composed of offset diagonal rows of small stem three petal flowers (kelle motif) in alternating colors, each petal plied with bleached white cotton and every fourth row dyed with a disappearing effect of light blue.

Condition:

Original flat woven blonde wool backing removed.  Damage to both side edges re-piled by a Turkmen woman weaver in Iranian country side. about ½ inch into both sides.  The rest of this bag face is in perfect condition.

Provenance:

Central Asian Western Turkestan, oasis and province of Merv, located in south west part of Turkestan. Originally Western Turkestan, then Persian Turkestan, it then became Russian Turkestan for several centuries and is now Turkmenistan. The Russians completed their conquest of Turkestan by defeating the Ahal Teke at Goek Tepe and occupying the Merv oasis in 1884.

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