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The Thompson Antique Uzbek Julkhyr Rug
 
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Antique Uzbek Julkhyr Rug

3 foot 8 inches by 7 foot 9inches.

This is an Uzbek sleeping rug. The harsh winters of central Asia force people who wish to survive to adapt to the cold. One adaptation that is still in use is the long pile sleeping rug. Recently in the Tarim Basin a team of archeologists sent by the Red Chinese government unearthed a rather similar rug that dates back about two thousand years. That rug has bands of wefts then one row of very long pile them another band of wefts. Not exactly the same because the Tarim Basin find uses slip loop pile and wider bands of wefts but still much the same idea. Why would they use these? Obviously as a sleeping pad in very cold weather or as a blanket is warmer weather.

I am convinced that these sleeping rugs give us the best possible glimpse of what the people of Central Asia actually wove for themselves. Most rugs were woven for market but this is truly an ethnographic piece of authentic folk-art.





Uzbek Julkhyr Rug, Northern Afghanistan,Circa 1900. 3 foot 8 inches by 7 foot 9inches. (Not including fringe)

Structure: Symmetric knot. 6 knots per horizontal inch and 4 knots per vertical inch. 24 per square inch (372 per square decimeter) Not depressed.

Yarn Spin: Z.

Warp: 2 ply wool brown or 2 ply 1 wool 1 cotton (both the wool and the cotton are hand spun).

Weft: 2 ply wool, brown.

Selvage: 4 cord wrapped in brown wool.

Ends: plain weave and twining with warp fringe.

Provenance: From the collection of a prominent American Collector/Expert. (This piece was originally sold by me but the bidder never honored his bid. I later resold it and it is now in the collection of the distinguished Washington DC area diplomat and rug collector, W. Kenneth Thompson )

How old is it?

With any rug unless you saw it come off the loom any attribution is just a guessing game. This rug has seemingly natural colors except for a fugitive purple. The use of a fugitive purple is not an absolute indicator but it does suggest late 19th century but could also date as late as 1913. So we turn to the other colors and since they look good. I view hand-spun cotton in the warps is an early sign as well. All these factors together as well as the general look and feel of the rug makes me feel that an attribution of late 19th seems reasonable (at least to me).

Scan of the Back

The Uzbek are an offshoot of the Mongol Golden Horde that conquered Russia in the thirteenth century. Cingis Qan (Ghengis Khan) died in 1227 and his empire was divided up in the great Quraltai of 1229. Jochi the eldest son was given the land furthest from the hearth, but since he had died his heirs led by Berke took from the Caucasus north into Russia and they were known as the Golden Horde. The Golden Horde or Kipchaks were led by Batu and Berke. Their younger brother Shayban split off and established the Shaybanid Horde. A later Shaybanid Khan named Uzbek converted to Islam and the horde became known as the Uzbeks. In the later part of the 15th century the Shaybanid Horde moved into Transoxiana and by 1505 the Uzbeks pushed the Chagatai Turks or Timurids out and took the land they still inhabit today.

For Further Reading:

Guide to Rugs & Books

Persian Miniature Paintings

Southwest Asia Time Line


Thanks and best wishes,

J. Barry O'Connell Jr.

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