Nazmiyal Antique Rugs

Barry O'Connell's Turkmen Rug Notes

Hagop Manoyan Antique RugsNazmiyal Antique Rugs

Guide to Turkmen Rugs & Carpets Turkoman Rugs

This is one of those strange rugs that the Turkmen made in the Soviet years.

Some of the Oriental Rug alk discussion on Turkmen Rugs. The Kufic border and the Peikam , Jeff Spurr on Jim Allen's Greatest Ensi, Tribes, Confederations, Ils and Ulus, It takes more than a Tent to make a Nomad, Tekke Main Carpets

As a group we now call them Turkmen Rugs. The old name in common usage was Turkoman Rugs but the trend today is to drop Turkoman rugs in favor of Turkmen rugs because Turkmen is the accepted English translation of the name of the people and their language. Earlier the rugs were called Bukhara or Afghan rugs.

When we wish to identify ethnicity political or geographic names are so fleeting as to be meaningless. Recently one national appraisal exam listed the correct answer for all Turkmen rugs as Russian. Obvious this is so maningtless as to be ludicrous. A number of years ago Dr. Jon Thompson was highly influential in the move to language names. It gives us a meaningful framework in which to understand the ruigs so following Thompson I use the language names for the rugs.

Therefore Turkmen rug because the weavers are Turkmen who speak one of the dialects of the Turkmen language. When in doubt we can categorize people by their "milk" language. If a woman's primary language is the Teke/Tekke dialect of Turkmen then we call her a Teke/Tekke Turkmen and if she weaves a rug then it is a Tekke Turkmen Rug. It would be more correct to say Teke Rugs but Tekke rugs is accepted in the rug dealer/collector community. Interestingly the rugs generally fall into groups that correspond to language. This has caused me to come to the conclusion that weaving is an unspoken language.

Turkmen as a language is a branch of the Ohguz language. Ohguz is made up of Turkmen, Northern Azeri and Southern Azeri. From Turkey to the Caucasus, Iran, and Central Asia a huge portion of the 'tribal" rugs are woven by weavers who are ethnically part of the Ohguz group.

Please see: Oguz versus Turkic/Southern a Linguistic Reassessment of the Turkish Languages .

Guides to Turkmen Rugs/Turkmen Rugs

Ersari Main Carpet 2

Ersari Main Carpet 2

Yomud Juval

Yomud Juval s1293n38

Salor Rug

The now famous Jenkins Salor chuval

From the collection of the late Arthur D. Jenkins a noted collector of rugs and textiles
now in the collection of the Textile Museum in Washington DC

Salor/S - Group
Purple Group Tekke Khalyk

Purple Group Tekke Khalyk

Jim Allen has been sharing his thoughts with me and Jim's thought process is always a treat. There is a temptation with many in the rug field to disregard some of Jim's more unusual assertations. I admit at times I took some of Jim's ideas with a grain of salt. Then I started to really dig into the early histories of the western penetration of the Turkmen areas particularly the book Merv Oasis by Edmund O'Donovan. Now I have come to realizde that Jim has a better grasp of the Turkmen than anyone I know. For years Jim has talked about the Salor slaves held at Merv by the Tekke. When Jim would mention that gem it was widely disregarded by some of the leading lights of Internet rug discussion. But now I have dig it out and Jim had it right and he was pulling it out of the Merv Oasis by Edmund O'Donovan.

So if there were Salor slaves at Merv what was the result? Jim is pointing to the Purple Group and I think he has something. I will stop there to see where Jim publishes his thoughts on the Purple Group.

"All wore the huge grenadier hats of black curled sheepskin characteristic of the Turkmen, and each had the usual long carving-knife-like dagger stuck in his white sash." Merv Oasis by Edmund O'Donovan

Yomut Rugs & Carpets


Eagle Group/Fine Brown Yomut




Pseudo-Chodor Group

Miscellaneous Turkoman Rugs

Thompson Sale


Most turkmen are Hanafi Sunni Moslems but part of the Yomud and all of the Goklen are Shia Moslems. See Turkmen language.

A difficulty with bazaar observations is the possibility of mistaken attribution. Such is not a problem for on site accounts. Two rather interesting observations involve the sedentary Goklen who occupied a small area within Persian jurisdiction. Here Fraser in 1825 remarked on the weaving of both felts and carpets.8 http://www.rugreview.com/95wrigh.htm

Yate, however, in 1894 described a different situation:

"The interior of their kibitkas was even dirty too, and they had none of the cleanliness and fine carpets and wall-bags of the Tekkes and Sariks... The Goklans did not appear to me to be such an industrious race as their brethren the Tekkes or the Sariks. They made no carpets, and only a few coarse rugs. Felts apparently were their only manufacture....9"

Persian Turkmen Yomut or Gocklen

Since the 16th century at least there have been Turkmen in the Gorgan and Astrabad area. The major tribes are the Yomud and the Gocklen. When it comes to differentiating between the two I am unclear if there is anyway to tell the difference. I do fell however that we can differentiate between Persian Turkmen and those Turkmen of even the same tribe from Turkmenistan. In this saddle rug we have an overall "bright" tonality. The red is brighter then I expect in most Yomut pieces. There is also the white diamond border which is one that I equate with a Persian attribution.

Gorgan is an area northeast of Tehran , west of Mashad and southeast of the Caspain sea. The main city Gorgon is a city of about 150,000 in North Iran in the area east of the Caspian Sea. It was conquerd by the Arabs in 716 and by the Mongols in about 1219. In the second half of the fiftheeth century it was controlled by Husein-i Buyqara The greatest Prince of Herat or his incompetent sons. In those days it was called Astrabad. In the 19th century it flourished because the founder of the Qajar Dynasty Aga Muhammad Khan was born there. The Gorgan plain was held by Turkmen in the 17th century as vassals of Khans of Khiva DEHESTAÚN


Igdir Turkmen

Odds & Ends

Ensi, Engsi, etc...

Turkmen Carpets at the Ashgabat, Turkmenistan Market Turkmen Carpets at the Ashgabat, Turkmenistan Market
Photo Credit Galen Frysinger http://www.galenfrysinger.com/  
Chodor Ensi, West Turkestan, last quarter 19th century

Seen at "http://www.skinnerinc.com/

Sale 2136 Lot 88

Chodor Ensi, West Turkestan, last quarter 19th century, stepped triangular floating mihrab and overall diamond lattice with ertman guls in midnight and navy blue, ivory, and light red on the aubergine-brown field, flowerhead-in-square compartment border and ashik gul elems of similar coloration, (slight moth damage, small creases, small rewoven areas, small corner gouges), 6 ft. by 4 ft. 4 in.
Estimate $800-1,200

The Mushak/Marsh Salor Torba

The Mushak/Marsh Salor Torba

Silk and Wool Salyr Kejebe torbaSotheby's Silk and Wool Salyr Kejebe torba
  Sotheby's An Outstanding Painted Pottery pair of Camels with Riders and Pet monkeys Tang Dynesty  
Sotheby's A Magnificent Painted Pottery Camel with Sogdian Rider and Hunting Owl Early Tang Dynasty

Kashgaria revolted from the Jagataite Khanate of Mogholistan, split under competing Dughlat emirs about 1479, and was largely resubjugated by the Jagataite Ahmed 1499. (Grousset 460-461, 493-495)

Tekke Ok Bash
"No consensus exists, however, on exactly how many major dialects should be recognized within Turkmen. For instance, while some scholars consider Salir and Sarik as major dialects (Hanser 1977), others consider them as variants of Teke (Dulling 1960)."
UCLA Turkmen Profile

I feel Dulling had it backwards in that Teke and Saryk derive from Salor. JBOC

  • First mention of Turkmen (al Turk-maniyun) by Makdisi in the 10th century. He used the term to refer to the Oguz and the Karluks. The Oguz were located near Isfijab in the mid Syr Darya region. Krader, Central Asia. Page 57.

  • Mahmud al-Kashgari refers to Oguz and Karluks as Turkmen in the 11th century. . Krader, Central Asia. Page 57.

  • The Oguz adopted Islam in the 10th century under a leader named Seljuk. Krader, Central Asia. Page 57.

  • Turkman began to be used to mean Oguz exclusively in the 11 century by Gardizi and Baihaqi. Krader, Central Asia. Page 58.

  • Turkman and Trukhmens split in 1680 with the Trukhmens moving into the North Caucasus. Krader, Central Asia. Page 58.

  • In the 18th and 19th centuries the Turkmen gained power as the Persians lost power in the region. Krader, Central Asia. Page 97.

  • South of the Ersari are the Alieli (Alili), a much smaller clan, who are confined to the small khanate of Andchoy. Their number is probably under twelve thousand people; and if Ferrier's inquiries may be trusted, these are not a distinct tribe, but only a branch of the Tekes who were removed to Andchoy in the reign of Shah Abbas the Great. He calls them descendants of the Afshars — that tribe of which Nadir Shah was a member. The Turkmen by Demetrius Charles Boulger Part 4

From:  "Seyitguly Batyrov" <seyitguly@online.tm>
Date:  Wed Oct 8, 2003  5:02 pm
Subject:  Re: [OrientalRug] Teke not Tekke

Dear Barry:

I cannot tell you what an honor it will be to help you in this.
Of course, I may never catch on with your vast knowledge of antique Turkmen
rugs but I hope to be helpful with spelling at least.
I must confess I made an error with asmalyk and kapunuk.
Of course, you are right, they are absolutely different weavings and your
definitions are absolutely correct.
Asmalyk is the correct spelling of what I often see spelled as "asmaldyk",

"osmolduk", etc. The literal translation is "a thing to be hung". Asmak=To
Kapunuk is wrong - the correct spelling is gapylyk. The translation is "a
thing (intended) for the door (of the yurt)". Gapy=Door.
To the best of my knowledge gapylyks were not woven in pairs.

I know you must know most of these:

Duye Dizlik
Ayatlyk - weaving intended for funeral ceremonies.
Sallanchak (not salatshak) - means literally a cradle. To the best of my
knowledge, the rug used on a sallanchak should normally be "sallanchaklyk".
But I never heard this word. It may be that the Turkmen people may not have
used any special word for this type of weaving.
Namazlyk - prayer rug.
Ensi or Engsi
Öy - yurt
Ak öy - when yurt is brand new
Gara öy - when the roof of the yurt is black because of smoke from the ojak

Göl - Gul
Gurbaga Göl
Chemche Göl
Germech (not Germetch)
Gochanak (not Kochanak)
Örtmen (not Ertmen)
Atabay (not Atabei)
Japarbay or Jafarbay (not Jaferbei)
Yilan Beshir or Beshir Yilan - (not Ersari or Beshir Cloudband) -
Gushly Göl - the genuine name of the main Teke göl
Gabsa Göl - (not Kepse gul)
Bukcha (not Bokche)
Ayna Göl (not Aina gul)
Towuk Nusga (?) or simply Towuk (Tauk Nuska) - I wonder whether Nuska comes
from the Turkmen word "nusga" - cartoon or the Russian word nozhka - leg

Ashyk border (not Ashik) translates literally as knuckle-bone

Khorjun (not khorjin)

Chyrpy (not cherpi or chirpi)

The names of the tribes:

Salyr (not Salor or Salur)



Ersary (not Ersari) - not sure whether it must be A or E (first letter). What letter in this word would you use for the sound that corresponds to the letter "a" as in cat, track, etc.? But certainly Y at the end, not I.

Teke (Tekke is so widely used that it is going to be very difficult to start adopting this correct spelling)



Alili (might have originally been Ali Ili but the modern spelling is Alili)

Ogurjaly (I have never heard of this tribe in modern Turkmenistan - it seems to have disappeared - but there are some Yomut "dervish" tribes coming from the Caspian Ogurja islands)

Gyzylayak or Gyzyl-ayak (NOT Kizil-ayak) - a subtribe of the Ersary

Arabachy (not Arabatchi) - a very small minority lives among the Ersary - I hear a part of them lives in Uzbekistan where they often discover some of their old weavings (or fakes?)

Igdir (not Igdyr)

Abdal Ata - of mixed Turkmen/Arab descent

Shikh - of mixed Turkmen/Arab descent

Hoja - of mixed Turkmen/Arab descent

Magtym - of mixed Turkmen/Arab descent etc.

I will certainly see if I can offer more suggestions.

By the way, in one of your Turkmen pages, you say that the head of our country is a Yomut. In reality, it is a well-known fact that he is a Teke but that is truly not relevant. If possible, we would very much appreciate if you could remove that part completely. All the Turkmen tribes are of equal significance and rank in our country.

The majority of these errors originate in various books by the Russian authors and since the Western researchers were almost never allowed to visit Central Asia during the Soviet period, this nomenclature remained unaltered for more than a century.

Now that there is a definite knowledge of the correct spellings, I hope all the highly-esteemed connoisseurs like you Barry will resolve this situation. As such, let me express sincere gratitude for your efforts, Sir. On behalf
of my nation. And although the handmade rugs in general are "in recess" at the moment, I hope the future holds great prospects for the revival of Turkmen carpets.

Thank you my friend,


Thanks and best wishes,

J. Barry O'Connell Jr.

Copyright Barry O'Connell 2004 - 2006.
Last revised: May 07, 2010.

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