Posted by Martin Andersen on 04-22-2008 12:51 PM:

6 Gull Tekke Torba tread?

Any chance of a 6 Gull Tekke Torba tread?

I would be very interested in hearing about the members of this forum views on the aesthetics and the design evolution of the 6 gull Tekke Torbas.

Here are some photos of my own 6 gull Torba, which is fragmentized and with rather low pile. I suppose it’s from around mid 19th (?) with no extraordinary features - but none the less I certainly love the drawing and the quality of the weaving.

The size of this Torba is 47 x 119 cm. Its open right, and 364 kpsi (as far as I can count). I suppose its a rather high kpsi for relatively large Torba ?

Any comments are much appreciated
Regards Martin

Posted by Jim Allen on 04-23-2008 09:42 AM:

old thread


Your torba is pictured upside down. Your torba probably dates to the first half of the 19th century and it could be even older. On the other hand it could be from the later 1880's. If it was later 1880's there would be a handful of knots dyed with synthetic red. The Tekke started increasing their knot counts by using a hammer on the comb compacting their knots. This made the weaving quite stiff and subject to splitting along the warps.

Every classical era Tekke torba I have examined has had a KPSI over 300. A lot can be learned by studying the borders of Tekke torbas. The number of colored kochank border elements between each white background kochank border element in your torba is four to one and I personally equate that four to one ratio with early examples. For instance my early 18th century tekke torba has a five to one ratio regarding the kochank border elements. The oldest Tekke weavings, with the kochank border, do not have any white background kochank border elements. There are two clearly different field aesthetics seen in these torbas. Tekke 6 gull torbas were not ordinarily used, in a utilitarian sense, but during rough times they were used and yours looks bleached out to some some degree by sun exposure. I have collected Turkoman weaving's since the mid 1970's and the Tekke 6 gull torba is one of my all time favorite genres. I presently own three of them. If any of this interests you here is a good place to discuss it. Jim Allen

Posted by Martin Andersen on 04-23-2008 12:32 PM:

Hi Jim

Sorry for the upside down. It should be corrected now.

Very interesting with the development of the white in the kochank border, I wasn't aware of that.

And I would love to se photos of the Torbas you have kept as a part of your collection. I am sure you collection is highly qualified.

regards Martin

Posted by David R E Hunt on 04-25-2008 12:21 AM:

Hi Martin

Wow. It's my understanding (faulty as it might be) that another sign of age in these Tekke torba is that the motif depicted in the center of the major gul is also be be found in the center of the kochak elements of the border. Gotta love the details in that gul.
Any possibility of getting a couple more photos? Some of these torba have figures drawn in the elem like, solid color at the bottom of the bag.

Dave Hunt

Posted by Jim Allen on 04-25-2008 01:31 PM:

It Takes a Lot of Looking

After looking at Martin’s Tekke torba for a day now I must say it has a number of rare features. The negative space formed by two adjacent kochank border elements is very compact and frankly of a design type I’ve seldom seen before. It certainly isn’t the usual treatment of that space and perhaps it has something to do with the high knot count. The arrow head designs in the deep blue surrounding the main gull centers are seldom encountered. The “T” forms extending from every vertical and horizontal extreme is also unusual as one generally sees only three sides decorated in this way.

Below is a close-up of my own Tekke 6 gull torba of a similar type. It has a rare old main border, it’s very finely woven at just over 300 kpsi, and its background color is a rich plum / purple.

Below is a visual presentation of Martin’s and my torbas. These torbas have an aesthetic that has moved away from the taller gulls of earlier Tekke torbas, the ones that never have those “T” shapes adorning their extremes. I have added contrast to Martin’s torba trying to bring it back into register with its’ original presentation. I don’t have a good vertical picture of my torba but I think looking at it from the side is interesting.

Posted by David R E Hunt on 04-25-2008 09:11 PM:

Hi Guys

The above mentioned torba, from Thompson's "Carprt Magic", page 18. No structural details, I'm afraid, but dimensions are 18" X 49 1/2 ".


Posted by Martin Andersen on 04-26-2008 06:26 AM:

Hi Jim and Dave

Very beautiful border on Jims Torba, I would very much like to see a close up shot.

And here are some additional photos of my Torba. As I suppose you know capturing texture and colours of these rugs in photos is almost impossible (at least for me). The red in my Torba is deeper and darker than the photos show.

top border

right border

regards Martin

Posted by Martin Andersen on 04-26-2008 06:28 AM:

And here is a Torba from Powerhouse Museum with a very similar layout as mine.
This Torba also has the central flower motif in both kochack border, chemsche gull, and main gull. It also has the clear drawn “bow and arrow” motif left and right of the chemsche gull (the “bow and arrow” motif is on all 4 Torbas we have in this tread).

The Powerhouse Museum has dated the Torba rather late, around 1900. I suppose it could be on ground of synthetic dyes, or perhaps the fringes? If it is that late then the ratio of white in the Kocank border supports Jims observation of a development going from less to more white in the border.

On the other hand Thompson's Torba looks very old even though it has a 1:3 ratio of white in the kochank border. Any thoughts on the beautiful “elem” on Thompson’s Torba ?

Regards Martin

Posted by Martin Andersen on 04-26-2008 06:53 AM:

And Jim, could you elaborate you thoughts on “The negative space formed by two adjacent kochank border” ? I would be very interested. I know you have a very specialised view on these negative spaces

Regards Martin

Posted by Jim Allen on 04-26-2008 07:58 PM:

negative spaces

If you start looking closely you will see that there are dozens of ways the kochank border is elaborated in the negative spaces. Some negative spaces are very well conceived and have as much visual presence as the positive space kochanks do. Others, like yours Martin, have a high number of kochanks and a minimalistic treatment to their intervening negative spaces. Aside from questions about aesthetics there is obviously a language evolving here. I feel that the high knot count of your torba has had a big influence on the elaboration of the details of your piece. The best learning experience in these matters is to see a significant number of Tekke torbas at once and study them side by side. This is something ACOR or the ICOC ought to do a hands on exhibit of.

Posted by Jim Allen on 04-26-2008 09:05 PM:

Rare Tekke 6 gull torbas

Large S border Tekke 6 gull Torbas

The large “S” border Tekke 6 gull torbas make a very interesting subtype to study. There are fewer large “S” tekke 6 gull torbas known then there are Tekke bird asmalyks. Below is an example from the ex Amstey collection.

Annette Rautenstengel mentioned to me, at the recent Hajji convention, that her most trusted female Tekke advisor/confidant flatly refused to believe that any Bird Asmalyk was a product of the Tekke tribe. This was something that greatly confused her. I suggested that the true Tekke Bird Asmalyk was a totemic weaving done to decorate the Khan’s mount as he presided over the “great hunt” when boys were turned into men. See the link below; as I have recently written on this subject.

Annette seemed to think this was an interesting avenue of thought as these weavings might well have been something that no Tekke woman ever saw. Bear in mind that shamen and even Khans were seen weaving by O’Donovan. In all fairness to Annette’s confidant, no Tekke woman may have ever seen a Tekke Bird Asmalyk in the far fields of her ordinary experiences.

Below is my short almost certainly incomplete list of the known large “S” border Tekke 6 gull torbas. I would love to see any others that the Turkotek crowd has knowledge of.

1) Leigh Marsh: best blood red example with nicely separated large “S” forms. I rank this piece as one of the best Tekke 6 gull torbas in existence.

2) Jack Cassin: Tent Band Tent Bag, plate # 8; the only example with saryk tertiary forms and primitive almost unreadable “S” forms. I once assigned this torba to the middle of the 19th century but now I wonder how old it truly is. This unusual Tekke torba has a unique aesthetic, as far as I can tell, with its lateral main gull extremes cut off by the border.

3) Munkacsi and D’Heurle: recently acquired a Tekke example in San Francisco with the large “S” border rendered somewhat similar to the Cassin example. This torba is sun bleached.

4) Sam Coad sold a classical Tekke 6 gull torba with the large “S” border, as I remember. A great piece and I heard it was sun bleached as well.

5) Marvin Amstey’s favorite Tekke 6 gull torba was a large “S” border Tekke torba that he published in Vanishing Jewels, image # 50. It is pictured first in this short note and it is not sun bleached.

6) Munkacsi has a Chodor-esq three full gull six half gull torba with the large S border. I wouldn’t rule out its being Tekke though it has Chodor coloring and aesthetic.

7) and beyond ……I am sure there are more examples and I truly want to see them all.
Jim Allen

PS Martin...if that is a light violet color in the outgoing chevron designs in the lateral horizontal arms of your chemche minor gulls then those small sections may be dyed with lac. It now seems apparent that the Salor controlled the lac trade and the Salor used it extensively before about 1800 AD. If your Tekke torba has any lac in it then it is almost certainly an 18th century Tekke weaving. This is fairly recent news and it comes from Rageth who has shifted his attention away from C-14 examinations and towards sensitive dye analysis in his ongoing research.

Posted by Martin Andersen on 04-27-2008 04:21 AM:

Hi Jim

Here is a scan from Hans Elmby ”Antique Turkmen Carpets V”.
There are no structural analyse in No V, but Elmby dates the Torba 1750 or earlier . He also relates it to another published Torba , “P. Hoffmeister: Turkoman Carpets. Edinburgh 1980, no 25”

regards Martin

Posted by Martin Andersen on 04-27-2008 06:59 AM:

lac or cochineal?

I am not able to tell the difference of Lac color and Cochineal. And I suppose it’s even harder if the color has been bleached by the sun ? Is it possible to tell the difference visually ? Or does it require some chemical test ?

The use of the light violet in my Torba is very sparse. And I find that it is used very deliberately to underline the horizontal aesthetics of the Torba format. The light violet color is mainly used across the horizontal centreline of the Torba. The effect of this underline may have been stronger when the pile was full and the colours less bleached.

regards Martin

Posted by Jim Allen on 04-27-2008 07:54 AM:


At this point, assuming you have a true violet color, I would assume your torba contains lac as cochineal produces a rosy red with blue undertones and not violet on wool. It seems funny but those few knots of violet in the next few years will assume a great deal of importance. I was happy to see the Elmby example, though I don't see any real relationship to Hoffmeister's #25, a torba I am quite familiar with. It is in fact the oldest Tekke torba known at this time. Soon we will all be singing follow the lac down the yellow brick road. Rageth has found lac in something like 80% of all Salor weavings. Finding lac in either a Tekke or Yomud weaving indicates to me an 18th century dating as the lac basically had to come from trade with the salor of the 18th century. Jim Allen

Posted by Ben Mini on 04-27-2008 09:15 AM:


Dear Jim,

In your last post you write, "Rageth has found lac in something like 80% of all Salor weavings. Finding lac in either a Tekke or Yomud weaving indicates to me an 18th century dating as the lac basically had to come from trade with the salor of the 18th century."

I don't quite understand your logic here. First of all, Rageth has reported the existence of lac in Salor weavings from as late as the end of the 19th century. He dates these pieces to the late 19th because they contain both synthetic dyes and lac. Rageth made these claim at Acor 8 during his presentation "Scientific Techniques in Oriental Carpet Studies."

If it's true, as you claim, that the Salor controlled the lac trade, it seems like you could have bought some lac off of them up through the early 20th century.

Ben Mini

p.s. Martin, I really like your torba.

Posted by Richard Larkin on 04-27-2008 10:28 AM:

Hi Martin,

In your post of April 26, in the last two images, there is a pale pink or violet color in some diamonds on the vertical element of the secondary gul and also in the chevrons along the horizontal. Is this the "lac" color of which we are speaking?

I also like your torba. It doesn't look especially "bleached" to me.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Martin Andersen on 04-27-2008 11:09 AM:

Hi Rich

Yes they are the ones. Colours are of course difficult to present on the net. The hue of the color is more blue then madder, and I would have thought it to be cochineal, as I have no experience with the Lac color.
Here is another detail shot (taken in shadow) of some of the violet colored parts in the center of the chemche gull :

regards Martin

Posted by Richard Larkin on 04-27-2008 12:32 PM:

Thanks, Martin. My mental picture of "lac" was much more brilliant red. But I can't say what is was based on. We live and learn.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Jim Allen on 04-27-2008 01:16 PM:


I am pretty sure the Salor were the only post 1800 AD tribe to still use lac late into the 19th century. I was thinking stored up reserves for the source. The reason is economic. Cochineal was deemed effective and desirable plus it was cheap. Many Salor main carpets have field colors dyed with lac. Lac was extremely expensive and hard to produce. Lac had been the principle replacement for Tyrollian purple of early first millennium AD. Surely this isn't all 100% true but can you find an obviously later yomud chuval with lac in it? I think all Yomud chuvals or torbas with lac date to the first half 18th century unless other factors clearly point in another direction. Same goes for Tekke torbas. Jim

Martin....that looks like lac in your torba to me.

Posted by Martin Andersen on 04-28-2008 02:49 AM:

I would very much like to see samples of other 6 Gull Tekke Torbas with use of light violet highlights.
It is hard to see in these photos but Leigh Marsh’ Torba, from earlier in the tread, also seems to take use of violet to underline the horizontal central chemsche gulls.

Leigh Marsh’ Torba

Perhaps one could speculate that earlier rugs used Lac in these highlights, while later rugs exchanged this luxury with cochineal silk colors ?

And Jim - thank you for putting the attention to the light violet (and adding a possible 100 years to my Torba, that does make the low pile more acceptable). You certainly have a sharp eye, spotting that color in my first colorvise rather poor photos. In general details like that is hard to spot in published material.

Regards Martin

Posted by Ben Mini on 04-28-2008 09:05 AM:

lac, cochineal, fuchsine

Actually, I do think that I have seen lac in later yomud work. I don't think that it's very common, but I think it happens on occasion. I know of one yomud piece on the market right now that is described by its knowledgeable seller as circa 1900 and containing either lac or maybe fuchsine.

I also remember another yomud chuval I saw a few years ago which I would have described as mid 19th ish, and which seemed to contain some lac highlights.

To be honest, though, I think it's fairly hard to differentiate insect dyes with my eyes. I guess cochineal is supposed to be a little bluer and poppier than lac, but I've seen some fairly subdued and violet tones of cochineal in some Anatolian pieces. And then there's good old fuchsine: a dye that seems to fade in many different ways and can sometimes appear suspiciously like an insect dye.

I'm certainly no expert on Turkoman rugs, but I've been working under the assumption that Lac is a pretty neat thing to find in a Turkoman. It's likely more common on older pieces than newer ones, but it does show up occasionally on newer ones too.

I guess I'm just suggesting that there isn't a rule about Lac-- that it doesn't necessarily date a Turkoman piece to an early period.

Ben Mini

Posted by Jim Allen on 04-28-2008 09:26 AM:


There is one other possibility. The Yomud you "saw" lac in was much earlier than mid 19th century or the dye wasn't lac but something else. I mention this because Yomud work is often earlier than we think. The Yomud were the strongest tribe in the period before the Tekke achieved ascendancy. This fact just isn't usually taken into account when factoring the age of a Yomud chuval. Certainly there are plenty of later ones but after a few years of looking the two groups become more distinct. A raptorized running dog border is a big tip off as is a fine weave. The aesthetic techniques used to make the gulls appear to be flying are also very characteristic of the oldest Yomud chuvals. I think the day is fast approaching when dye analysis is going to really take off. Jim

Posted by Martin Andersen on 04-28-2008 10:31 AM:

It is quite provoking how difficult it is to establish both chronology and subgroups regarding these rugs. Rugs which are so obviously systematic and consistent in their layout. And obviously so consecutive in their aesthetical development. But I suppose that’s a part of the fun


Posted by Martin Andersen on 04-28-2008 03:50 PM:

I think here is another Torba with the S-border, the reproduction is rather small. It is copy pasted from this web page:

Krausse Torba

And perhaps the following Torba from Pinner’s collection also has a violet colour in the horizontal centreline?
Again the image seize very small, but I think there is a small bluish tone in the centre Chemsche Gulls ?

Pinner Torba

Regards Martin

Posted by Sue Zimmerman on 04-29-2008 09:36 AM:


If you are having trouble dyeing wool violet with cochineal it may be due to the water you are using. Try an after bath with non-sudsing ammonia. If that doesn't work there are many other ways. Ammonia is the cheapest and easiest, though. I've never heard of this problem before. Is your water acidic? Sue

Posted by Martin Andersen on 05-03-2008 08:27 AM:

Kochank, Kochanak border

Hi All

After looking around at the kochank border on published Torbas, I see that Jim is right again. The normal intersection in the negative space in the border is made of “ram’s horns” all the way round. On my Torba the intersection is made up by multicolored triangles. Not sure what to make of it, but anyway peculiarities does give character to a rug.

Kochank border top:

Kochank border right side:

More conventional kochank border:

Regards Martin

Posted by Jim Allen on 05-03-2008 09:46 AM:

Kochank border

The best drawn kochank borders are on 14th & 15th century Anatolian carpets. One must study these in order to know what the design looks like in its most optimized conformation. Taking a design from one matrix or milieu to another, say for instance from these early Anatolian kochank carpet borders to later Turkoman kochank torba borders, is similar to transposing music from a guitar to a violin. This isn't something that comes naturally and requires deep understanding of the material. My mid 17th century C-14 dated Tekke chuval had an absolutely classical kochank border and it was woven at 326 KPSI. That required a big leap or adjustment by the weaver to make her kochank design work out correctly. One will notice in the genre of Tekke 6 gull torbas that there are diagonal and non diagonal coloring patterns for the kochank negative spaces. This is a profound adjustment. The earliest torbas have very few to zero white kochanks. Martins torba is quite possibly an early torba and its kochank defined negative spaces are affective in their drawing but also very minimalistic. It makes sense that these adjustments may have found favor in the larger community and perhaps for a generation or two they formed the bulk of fashionable kochank design. It may well be possible to characterize Tekke 6 gull torbas with kochank borders simply based on their negative space elaborations. Also the rosette undergoes changes that are about as frequent and profound as the negative space treatments are. Beneath the superficial similarity one initially perceives in this genre there run threads of generational differences that make them each and every one unique. Now isn't this fun! Jim

Posted by Martin Andersen on 05-04-2008 06:18 AM:

Hi Jim

Actually the negative space perhaps looks more “Anatolian” than the positive space

Regards Martin

Posted by Jim Allen on 05-04-2008 09:39 PM:

colored triangles

In the vertical border segments of your torba the kochanks have well done rosettes and the usual kochank shaped background. In addition the vertical kochanks of your torba have colored triangles in the kochanks body at zero and one hundred and eighty degrees. I think these triangles were meant to be seen as working with the negative space forms to bring the segments into tight relationship like the links of a chain. I have looked at a lot of Tekke 6 gull torbas and frankly I can't remember ever seeing those triangles before. I would be very pleased if someone can show me another example as I think it would help us better understand Martin's torba. Jim

Posted by Martin Andersen on 05-05-2008 07:56 AM:

Hi Jim
Here is a scan from Hans Elmby ”Antique Turkmen Carpets IV” plate no 5. It has the same small triangles in the positive elements of the vertical Kochank border.

Elmby IV no 5

As far as I can see on the small photo it doesn’t have the triangles in the intersections. But the ram horns in the intersection almost looks like triangles. If one could talk of a development, I wonder which way the development have moved in the intersection, from triangle to ram horns - or visa versa ?

Detail, Elmby IV no 5

Elmby dates it 1850 or earlier. It has a knot count on 4600 kn/sqdm = 297 kpsi.
If my knot counting isn’t flawed, then the 364 kpsi of my own Torba seems very high. Actually I haven’t found any other published Torbas with that high kpsi.

regards Martin

Posted by Richard Larkin on 05-05-2008 10:16 AM:

Hi Martin and Jim,

Martin, my best count of the vertical row of nodes in your (excellent) image is 25 (rather than 28), which renders a count of 325 psi. Still pretty fine.

Jim, intending not the least offense, I must say I find much of your deep analysis of these Turkoman weavings in terms of the function and purpose of small details, particularly as they bear on issues of "negative space," not to be very convincing to me. At the same time, you are certainly a visionary, and the lack of understanding may well be on my own part. At least, your ability to produce these insights is impressive and fascinating. Having said that, I am curious to know whether your views have gained wide support or acceptance among other Turkoman scholars.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Jim Allen on 05-05-2008 04:06 PM:


My first serious insight concerning Turkoman weaving concerned the non accidental nature of three dimensional representation in very old Turkoman chuvals. I published my rough ideas as an article in Hali #55. My thesis caught the attention of Dr. Craig Carriere who took digitized images of the pieces in question and scored them on a scale between 2.0 and 3.0, using an advanced algorithm. He calculated very high scores (approx. 2.8) for the two chuvals I'd choosen as representative of the oldest Turkoman aesthetic. Nobody took much notice of this finding but I later found that museum curators the world over had noticed it. With help from Nobiko Kajitani of the MET and Kurt Munkacsi, present president of the Hajji Baba Club, I submitted my chuval with a very high dimensionality quotient for C-14 analysis to Arizona University and Dr. AJT Jull. He found that my Tekke chuval, the one that I felt was representative of the oldest Turkoman aesthetic, was mid 17th century. At the time this was revolutionary information and permanently planted the idea that certain Turkoman weavings were drawn three dimensionally as part of an ages old tradition. I caused a tipping point to occur in Turkoman aesthetic appreciation. Our work was published in Oriental Carpet and Textile Studies 5 edited my Pinner and Eiland. I was very proud to recently hear Jon Thompson say to me in public that he had determined that the whole three dimensional thing, relative to Turkoman drawing, rested at my feet.

Jim Allen

Posted by Martin Andersen on 05-06-2008 04:36 AM:

Hi Rich
You are probably right about the knots, those little bastards are hard keeping in line

And Thought I personally cant always follow Jims imaginary thinking (a thinking which Jim often enough presents as hypothesis and hyperbolian thinking), I at the same time find it very fascinating.
And I do certainly have a lot of respect for his vast experience and sharp eye - and his willingness to share this experience. And on a topic like this, the Torbas, the published literature is, as far as I can see, very general and not very specific or detailed. I am very grateful for anyone how is willing to share thoughts and knowledge on this.

And I suppose we all know that knowledge and insight sometimes moves in mysterious ways


Posted by Richard Larkin on 05-06-2008 07:55 AM:

Hi Martin,

You are right, Jim does have a very sharp eye for the detail others take for granted. You can't go wrong paying attention to the fine details of these weavings. Jim, I delved into the attic (my poor version of the state of the art secure bunker Mr. Weiler supervises) and found Hali 55. I'll read your article with pleasure, and maybe come back with comments and questions.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Martin Andersen on 05-11-2008 07:01 PM:

Hi All

I wonder about the function of these Torbas. The horizontal format seems to be an invention of the Turkmen? As a travelling bag the large horizontal opening can’t have been very practical? Aside from Torbas and Chuvals, are there any other horizontal bags from other nomadic societies?
There seems to be some consensus that the Torbas was a non utilitarian part of the dowry, but that gives no real answer to the rather strange horizontal format of these bags (which are still bags). Any thoughts on what could have been in these bags? Sticks? Bow and arrows? And it seem like the Tekke stopped making these Torbas rather soon after the Russian colonization? At least I haven’t seen any Six Gull Torba that I would think was from the 20th.

Earlier in this tread Jims mentions the Bird Asmalyks (I suppose Jims interest in the curved border on some Torbas are connected to the curved border on the Tekke Asmalyks). As far as I have understood the Asmalyks are generally also seen as a part of the marriage ceremonial. If they are then it seems rather strange that Tekke Asmalyks are so very rare. Marriage is a rather frequent thing.

Well I suppose there are no final answers to these questions, but I would be interested in any thoughts and speculations on the topic.

Regards Martin

Posted by Steve Price on 05-11-2008 07:32 PM:

Hi Martin

One of the interesting things about comparing the utilitarian textiles made by Turkmen with those from NW Persia and the Caucasus is that they're so different. The two regions are only separated by the Caspian Sea, so they surely interacted.

Turkmen make lots of pile weavings, some flatweaves. The NW Persian/Caucasian tribal people make mostly flatweaves, occasional pile weaves.

Turkmen make lots of torbas, juvals, spoon/spindle bags, an occasional prayer rug, an occasional khorjin. No cargo bag (mafrash), no salt bags. NW Persian/Caucasian tribal people make no torbas, an occasional juval, no spoon/spindle bags, lots of salt bags, lots of mafrash, lots of khorjin.

I find the difference as striking as the difference in what's used as eating utensils (forks and spoons vs chop sticks), which also changes abruptly over a short distance.

Steve Price

Posted by Martin Andersen on 05-13-2008 06:14 AM:

Hi Steve

Yes cultural borders can be sharp, and sometimes they seem rather arbitrary. I suppose langue and the general hostilities have constituted a sharp cultural border between Persia and the Turkmens.

Of course the Torbas may have had the specific shape from being partly an utilitarian bag - and partly a non utilitarian wall hanging, as a part of the extensive dowry ceremonials. I suppose a wall hanging in a yurt would to be more displayable in horizontal direction ?

Regards Martin

Posted by Richard Larkin on 05-13-2008 08:52 AM:

Hi Steve,

I never thought much about the differences in the output of these two groups until you mentioned it here, though it is obvious when you think about it. Would you agree that the Kurds, particularly the weavers of the "Jaff Kurd" repertoire, blur the distinction somewhat?

Rich Larkin

Posted by Steve Price on 05-13-2008 09:57 AM:

Hi Rich

Most of Kurdistan falls outside the range of either the Turkmen or NW Persian/Caucasian tribal folks, so I don't see Kurdish weaving as having much bearing on the general distinction between those two.


Steve Price

Posted by Richard Larkin on 05-13-2008 11:44 AM:

Hi Steve,

I understand that. You noted that the two groups (Turkoman and NW Persian/Caucasian, respectively) produced significantly differing repertoires of utilitarian woven goods, notwithstanding their relatively close proximity, not to mention long standing weaving traditions. I found that circumstance remarkable once you brought it to my attention, especially considering the imitation that one might expect to take place among such peoples who had ample opportunity to observe one another.

My point was that I thought the differences in the range of functional woven goods were less clear cut when one brought the Kurds into the equation, comparing to either or both of the other two. In particular, I think the range of sizes among Kurdish woven bags is much greater and less regimented. It's not a very important point. As far as geographic distribution is concerned, the Kurds are varied and scattered, but they have a prominent representation in the NW Persian area, and some in the Caucasus as well.

Posted by Steve Price on 05-13-2008 11:55 AM:

Hi Rich

I understand now. I guess it does fuzz the edges some.

Your word, "unregimented", strikes me as the very essence of Kurdish weaving. Wish I'd thought of it first.


Steve Price

Posted by Richard Larkin on 05-13-2008 01:04 PM:

Hi Steve,

The larger question implicit in your observation, of course, is the apparent anomaly of the relatively slight incursion of utilitarian weaving habits and formats from the one group into the other. Removed as I am from the venues of these groups, perhaps I have an inaccurate sense of the amount of historical interaction and association among them. One would imagine somewhere along the line, some Turkoman women would have spotted a few salt bags and gotten inspired. One wonders whether there was studied avoidance involved, based on perceived superiority of one's own clan.

There other instances of utilitarian formats that seem to have been limited to specific groups as well, though others presumably had opportunities to take them on. Balishts of the Baluchi groups come to mind, with the opening at the narrow side of the bag. No doubt there are others. We can probably agree in general that the Turkoman lead the league in odd and obscure functional weavings.

Posted by Steve Price on 05-13-2008 01:22 PM:

Hi Rich

Turkmenistan is on one side of the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan and NW Iran are on the other, separated by modest distances. There are major cities on both sides (Derbent, Lenkoran, Baku, Turkmenbasi, among others) and a number of rivers running into it with more cities on them. It's hard to imagine that there wasn't lots of interaction between the peoples of both groups. If I'm having a lucid moment, the Shahsevan were put into that region to protect the Azerbaijani from the Turkmen.

Yes, the Turkmen made specialized containers for all sorts of things. I have an oddball pile container that turns out to be a bag for a weaver's comb. The dealer who sold it to me thought it might be a tea cozy.


Steve Price

Posted by Jim Allen on 05-13-2008 08:35 PM:

Tekke Torba uses

Just from the color perspective: many Tekke torbas obviously didn't see any significant amount of time in the sun. Those that were used in a nomadic and utilitarian fashion outside in the sun often show sun bleaching of the natural dark brown to a light brown. This lighter brown color can be so light it fails to properly "confine" the colored forms it outlines and this is visually irritating. More sun bleaching causes the madder reds to significantly lighten but the blues are amazingly stable. I have seen a hand full of truly early Tekke 6 gull torbas and they were all unbleached. I believe this means that many of this type weaving were only hung up inside of the yurt and in the larger context they were passed down through the generations as heirlooms. I think they would also have served as teaching aides for future generations. This just begins to tell the story of why one Tekke 6 gull torba may sell for 25,000 usd at auction and another one fairly similar looking only makes 2,500 usd at the same auction.

I have noticed on spindle bags, igsaliks, that there is always a particular kind of damage on their backsides to the knots, a little distance from their depths or bottoms. This damage was caused by the bulge in the spindles constantly grinding into them while moving camps etc. This is one of those rare instances when a function can be deduced for a Turkoman weaving from damage caused by the articles stored inside of it.

Jim Allen

Posted by Martin Andersen on 05-14-2008 03:04 AM:

Hi All

One thing that perhaps indicates that the Torbas was primarily produced for wall hanging is the completely missing decoration of the backside piece. The backsides (which seems to rarely have survived to our time?) were undecorated and uncolored plain weave. The backside of other tribal bags seems to at least to have been made of colored yarn.


Posted by Steve Price on 05-14-2008 05:47 AM:

Hi Martin

Actually, you just put your finger on yet another odd difference between utilitarian bags produced by Turkmen and those produced by NW Persian/Caucasian peoples. The backs of Turkmen bags are, almost without exception, undecorated. The backs of NW Persian/Caucasian peoples have decoration on all sides, the simplest being stipes of alternating color.

We did a Salon awhile back on bags with interesting backs. Here is a link to it.


Steve Price

Posted by Martin Andersen on 05-16-2008 03:32 AM:

Hi Steve

Interesting treads about the backs, but a lot of the photos seems to be gone?

And I am sorry if I am stating the obvious, especially for long time members of this forum, where the Turkmen stuff may be a beaten horse.

But I suppose one more thing that may define the Torbas, and most of the other Turkmen bags as mainly non utilitarian, is the missing closure system? Even for wall hanging they can’t have been very practical if there were any serious weight in the bags. I must admit have never really understood the long strings at the top left and right side of the bags. The strings can’t have been used for closure of the bags, only for wall hanging? And I suppose the bags would bulge rather strangely if they were heavily filled and only hanging in 2 points 1 meter apart. I would think that at least a third string in the middle would be needed to distribute weight without deforming the bags.
Some old photos of the internal of the yurt with the bags in use sure would have been very interesting .

Regards Martin

Posted by Marty Grove on 05-16-2008 08:21 AM:

Not complete

G'day Martin, Steve and all,

Mart, knowledge of the Turkmen is not nearly complete - for a good source on the state of play in Central Asian weaving, including those outside 'the' Turkmen tribe, if you are able to find a copy of Timbuktu to Tibet by Jon Thompson, it will be of much benefit.

Patricks mini Salon has lead ins to the book. I got mine from England and the lady said I had the third last copy they had and that was last week. There may be other copies elsewhere, but at the time, I wasnt able to find one on the Net.

The book even has photos of 'torba' bags on the tent wall showing the permanent curvature which comes from their long term hanging.

As for these particular weavings being generally found in the past 100 years in decent condition, it possibly shows they were treated with respect. Today we ourselves have weavings we hold in awe and make sure they remain unharmed as best as possible. So it goes with something so beautiful as these woven gems.

Mind you, from a particular photograph on page 121 I think it is (in the above book) there is shown the master of the tent lounging with his family, strong heeled boots rucking up the rug beneath his feet. I always thought in those days they took their footwear off on entering the tent, forgetting of course just how cold it gets there.

With the boots shown in the picture, and the rugs probably on slightly uneven ground, not boards, the weavings might get battered quite a bit more than those underfoot in our own homes! so Im not surprised they cannot be found for sale on every street corner...

Its a nice book, not expensive considering, and I apologise if it has been spoken of too much outside Patricks Salon.


Posted by Martin Andersen on 05-17-2008 03:59 AM:

Hi All

Just found a Torba with some detailed photos that I think would be interesting for a closer look on design development in the kochank border. This Torba is dated mid 19th, and it is obviously that old, if not older ?

The border is somehow designvise in between other more clearly drawn borders. The top and bottom border is of course still the kochank border, but the drawing of both the boxes and the rossets is almost washed out.

I would say you can’t make a drawing like that without first having a much more clear original drawing (like the one on my own Torba) which has been copied quite a few times.
At the same time there in the top and bottom the space between the kochank boxes almost stands out as new pattern.


Posted by Martin Andersen on 05-23-2008 06:47 PM:

Hi All

Here is a scan of a 12 gull Torba, no. 28 in “The Rickmers Collection” by Robert Pinner. Pinner dates it first half of 19th. Kpsi 232.

It has a similar kochank border as my own Torba, with the multicoloured triangles between the border cartouches.

In the tread about Tekke main carpets Jim mentions the possibility of Torbas floating around under forum members beds. I certainly would like to see some photos, and some details, from any of them. Perhaps of the beds too
I find that one of the great things about Turkotek is the close-up photos which are so rare in the literature.

Regards Martin

Posted by Martin Andersen on 05-25-2008 10:05 AM:

Hi All

Just a final post, if nothing else turns up.

Looking at the back of my Torba I came across this little fellow in the lower right corner :

Photo from the back

It is certainly intentional, its not a mistake and its not a part of any pattern. I suppose it’s a kind of signature ? Or perhaps some kind of amulet ?

Regards Martin