Turkmen vs. NW Persian

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Posted by Yon Bard on April 25, 1999 at 08:48:36:

Steve, I think you overstate the similarity of the environments. In NW Persia, the nomads lived among and interacted with a settled populations with weaving traditions of their own, near centers of civilization, under well established (though constantly shifting) governments. Their physical environment was perhaps not a garden of eden, but not an extreme desert either. The Turkmen lived by and large by themselves, with only occasional interaction with centers of civilization like Khiva and Bokhara, which had no weaving traditions of their own. Outsiders rarely ventured into their territories for fear of their lives. They were truly free of any form of organized government. Except for the narrow river valley, their environment was one of the world's most arid deserts. It is not surprising, therefore, that their culture developed in isolation with far fewer external influence. Where they became settled, like the Ersari on the Amu Daria, they began to adopt Persian motifs such as the boteh, mina khani, and Herati designs.

It's worth pointing out that the Turkmen, like their relatives further east, lived in yurts; the NW Persian and Anatolian nomads used different kinds of tents, generally (I believe) smaller. Perhaps the Turkmen-type bags fit better in the yurt environment. But this also shows that there is a cultural divide between Central Asia, to which the Turkmen belong, and the areas separated from them by the Caspian Sea and the montains of northern Persia, Afghanistan, etc.

A bit of nit-picking: The Turkmen did weave bags with banded designs, such as the ak- and kizil-chuvals.

Regards, Yon

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