Posted by Phil_Lloyd on 08-26-2002 07:05 AM:

A Saryk Ensi


I'm realy enjoying the Salon on the Ensi,..with John Howe..
Such a detailed discussion about these curious rugs is long overdue..
This is an oldish Saryk ensi that I recently acquired locally

Now, compared with some of the fabulous examples in John's presentation,..this piece in not quite in the same league,..however, is a very nice item to handle and has superb silky wool with a really pleasant 'feel' to it,..the colours are nice and mellow and there is no cotton in this piece.. I would be pleased and gratefull to hear some feedback as to its age, attribution,etc..

BUT, real question would have to be,... Just why is the Candelabra type motifs in the four sections of most Saryk Ensis different to those seen in the other Tekke or Yomut pieces?

Kind Regards,
Phil Lloyd,Hampshire,UK

Posted by Steve Price on 08-26-2002 11:44 AM:

Hi Phil,

The delicious tactile quality of your piece is evident in the photo, and people like me put high marks on rugs that feel really luxurious, as this one obviously does.

The "sideways" orientation of the "candelabra" on your piece and on the Saryk in John's essay is an interesting observation. Is it the norm in Saryk ensis?


Steve Price

Posted by R. John_Howe on 08-27-2002 08:51 AM:

Saryk Sideways "Candelabras"

Dear folks –

A quick check of my rug books does seem to indicate that the "sideways" orientation of the "candelabra" devices is typical of most Saryk engsis. I was not able to discover a discussion of this feature. Jourdan does show an engsis that he labels Saryk that has the orientation of the "candelabra" devices usually found in non-Saryk engsis.

Jourdan takes some pain to indicate that this latter piece is a departure from most other Saryk engsis in several respects. It has an additional set of panels, some different design elements, and a weave and handle much looser than that of most Saryk weaving.


R. John Howe

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 08-27-2002 11:59 PM:

Well, Duh !


The sideways candelabra apparently indicates the Saryk specialty of Espalier.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Steve Price on 08-28-2002 01:03 PM:

Hi All,

The answer to the question, Why do the Saryk tend to orient the "candelabra" differently than other Turkmen do? is probably unknowable without knowing what the motif represents to begin with.

But, I think the fact that it can be oriented either way narrows down the possible range of things that it represents. Obviously, it makes sense to the Turkmen whether it's presented in the orientation used by most Turkmen groups or in what we might call "the Saryk orientation."

So what? Well, lots of things don't make sense when you turn them on their side, especially when you turn all of them on their sides. Trees, for instance, or other plants; people, animals, mountains. In fact, most tangible objects in the environment have a more or less constant orientation. So a motif that makes as much sense in a "vertical" as in a "horizontal" orientation probably doesn't represent any of those things. Intangible, abstract ideas - lifetime, fertility, wisdom, good fortune, to name a few - would be better candidates. So what if one tribe draws them facing up and another draws them facing right or left? It would still make sense to each, and to each other, despite the traditional difference in how it's drawn.

I suggest, then, that the "candelabra" represent some abstract idea rather than some environmental object.


Steve Price

Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 08-31-2002 11:25 PM:

Saryk Engsi

Phil and All- Nice rug, seems to have good clear colors , a big plus, and the design elements seem,while not demonstrating the variety and exhuberance of older rugs, well formed and proportioned . As with most rugs of the late 19th and early 20th centuries the designs degenerate, the result of any number of forces operating independantly or in conjunction with market forces, and no longer exhibit the intricacies of detail and design idiosyncracy which differientiate the exemplary from the good. And the colors of this rug seem lighter and less Mahogany and Chocolate than the older, with more white. The proportional relationships of the overall composition also differ from the aged, in which the borders and skirt or elem dominate the composition. In this newer rug the field dominates, borders and elem are reduced to accessories. Still a good example of a later rug, although possessing a certail uniformity of design. Also, does this rug have a folded and stitched plainweave band at the top, or fringe? Many later engsi have fringe instead of weave band - need I say why? Any idea when the first "double fringe" engsi appeared? -Dave Hunt

Posted by Sue Zimerman on 09-01-2002 06:11 AM:

Dear David,
Your pictures must be lost in cyberspace. Could you please send them again? I would really like to see the intricacies of detail and design idiosyncrasies you speak of. Sue

Posted by David_R.E._Hunt on 09-03-2002 02:44 AM:

Greetings All-

A special thanks to Mr. R. John Howe for assembling this provocative survey and enquiry into the form and function of the Engsi design format of Turkmen rugs, and to Mr Phil Lloyd's post of his Saryk Engsi- the sight of which precipitated a paroxysm of Turkomanaical musing. Iv'e always had an especial affinity for the engsi in general and the Saryk engsi in particular- I stumbled across two just by chance and was instantly smitten. Pictures really don' t ( and for some reasom especially color plates in texts) capture the beauty of these gems, a sort of mahogany and cocoa effect as a in a sampler of chocolates with their deep, rich, and dark pallet punctuated by a halo of highlights. In his post, in which Mr.Lloyd displayed his Saryk Design Engsi and posited the usual questions regarding age, quality, etc., and my response generated a query of it's own, and in response have assembled a quick Survey of the Design Eolution of the Saryk Engsi Carpet, from the Pre 1860 or Early Period to the 1875-!900 or Middle Period to the 20th century or Late Period .

This esteemed example of a Saryk Engsi from the first and Early period is from " Between Black Dessert and Red " by Pinner and Eiland and demonstrates characteristic features of the period including sombre tonality, a spascious and austere drawing but with a wealth of exuberence in detail , and an overall balance in the proportional relationships exhibited by the field, borders and elem. These are rare and much sought after.

These two engsi, both from the second or Middle period,one from our present salon and one from Uwe Jourdan's "Turkoman", both demonstrate characteristic features of the period, which include a wider range of tonality, an exuberance which is manifest in complexity of design more than intricacies of detail,and an overall balance shift in which the borders and elem come to dominate the composition.

Here we have Phil Lloyd's engsi, representing the last or Late period. The design elements, while not showing the variety and exuberence of older rugs, seem well formed and proportioned for as with most rugs of the late19th and 20th centuries the designs degenerate as the result of any number of forces operating independantly or in conjunction with market forces. The rugs no longer exhibit the intricacies of detail and design idiosyncracies which differientiate them from and in turn characterize the drawing of earlier periods.The proportional relationships of the primary elements in the composition also differ from the older, for now the field dominates the composition.

David R.E. Hunt

Posted by Robert Anderson on 09-03-2002 03:31 PM:

David, just a couple of additional comments. The first Engsi you show (to demonstrate an early period example) was also published in ‘Atlantic Collections’, where I believe it was Eiland who said that its (somewhat light) coloration differs from that normally seen in pieces thought to be among the earliest. I don’t know if there’s agreement on this or not, or what the earliest examples look like, but from his writings in ‘Turkmen’ Jon Thompson apparently thought that the first engsi shown in John’s presentation, (the ex-Cootner collection engsi), may be among the oldest and greatest examples known, and that this piece is also long enough (at over 7 feet) to have actually been used as a door rug. The second (middle period) example that you show looks like a typical (pende?) example – rather dark, not much color contrast, ornamental over-abundance. The third example (also middle period) resembles an engsi in the collections of the Russian museums (I’m not positive, but it may be pictured in ‘Pacific collections’). Anyway, the Russian engsi has a similar elem with a high degree of color contrast. However, unlike your example the Russian engsi is labeled as an early example. Finally, regarding Phil’s engsi I would add that the sainak motif of the outer border runs all the way around the piece, including the bottom, just like a rug border would. Also, as you indicated, the elem seems to have been neglected. Color-wise, it’s difficult to say, but if the colors on my moniter are accurate, it looks like this piece may be sun-faded or that it may have been given a mild chemical wash when this practice was fashionable.

Robert Anderson

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-03-2002 07:05 PM:

"First" Mention of Three Saryk Periods

Dear folks -

The first mention of three Saryk periods I encountered was in the Mackie/Thompson catalog of 1980, beginning on page 83, second paragraph from the bottom.

Thompson seems to be talking about Saryk weaving in general.


R. John Howe

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-04-2002 07:39 AM:

Mr. Anderson -

You say in your post above "...the ex-Cootner collection engsi...".

Excuse me for asking this on the board, but do you have any notion of where this piece might be nowadays?


R. John Howe

Posted by Robert Anderson on 09-04-2002 07:58 AM:

No problem. I believe that particular engsi was donated to the DeYoung Museum in S.F., which also received the McCoy Jones collection, the Wiedersperg collection, and was promised the Heckshire collection. While pictures of several of the McCoy Jones rugs are accessible on the Museum's web pages (including a rare type of Arabatchi engsi), I have not seen pictures of the subject engsi there.

Robert Anderson

Posted by David_R.E._Hunt on 09-05-2002 03:33 AM:

Dear Robert and all- I'm lucky enough to have both a copy of"Between Black Desert and Red" and Mackie/Thompson's "Turkmen" on hand and compared the full page color plates of the Weidersperg and Cootner Saryk Engsi respectively.

I for one am unconvinced that these two rugs are either from the same design period or of the same age. True, the ground color of Weidersperg piece is an anomally, but could just as well be from fading from age, yet contains considerably less white than the Cootner piece. The proportions of the constituent elements of the design, field, elem, and borders of the Cootner rug are not so evenly and harmoniously proportioned as the Wiedersperg. These Cootner's proportions seem to be moving in the direction of the Middle design period.

The Weidersperg's rendering of the design elements and drawing reflect that "austere exuberence" and attention to detail indicative of superior craftsmanship and age.

The cootner's drawing in many respects more closely resembles the drawing of Middle period weaving, especially the rendering of the design elements within the elem or skirt.

Note the simularity in drawing of the elements between the Cootner piece and this elem detail from a late Middle Period piece from Ewe Jourdan's "Turkoman". I believe that the Cootner piece might be best described as a transitional design, between Early and Middle Period. Of course I could be commiting a most egregous sampling error, but I trust my instincts on this one

Posted by Steve Price on 09-05-2002 06:29 AM:

Hi People,

Just an afterthought to David's post. Now and then we have to remind ourselves that the evolutionary changes in how Turkmen did things was not stepwise, but happened with big overlaps in time between elements of the "old" and of the "new". Thus, many pieces show characteristics that we associate with older weavings along with characteristics we associate with younger ones.


Steve Price

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-07-2002 05:49 AM:

Saryk "oranges"

Dear folks -

Engsi 13 in the initial salon essay, that also appears above in this thread, has another noteworthy Saryk characteristic, a distinctive lower orange panel.

Collectors are famous for their aversion to and their suspicions about orange, when this is encountered in a rug, since oranges were prominent among the early synthetic dyes.

But there are good, strong oranges and this is one of them. Face to face with this piece one is struck with the wonderful coppery glow of this orange panel. It has that depth of color and degree of saturation about which collectors sometimes rhapsodize. Lit from within, so to speak.

There was a Saryk torba at the ACOR in Burlingame that had this same orange. I tried repeatedly to photograph it, but never produced a satisfactory print of it.

I remarked, subsequently, about this orange to Elena Tzareva who responded that the Saryks are in fact noted for a number of distinctive oranges that they seem particularly to have produced.

Engsi 13 has one of the best oranges I have seen in a Turkmen piece.


R. John Howe

Posted by Sue Zimerman on 09-07-2002 06:58 PM:

Dear John,
I am glad you mentioned orange. I dyed silk yarn this summer and got these magnificent coppery oranges. Cold mordanted, cold dye baths. Coreopsis, fresh picked from my garden. My tree lichen dyed yarn keeps them smelling like the woods after a rain shower, too. Life is good. Sue