THE TURKMEN OF TURKMENISTAN.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

It has long been suspected that the Turkmen influenced the weavers of the great Classical carpets going back to the 11th century onwards, and it can therefore be said that Turkmenistan is the 'cradle of weaving'.

We have to look pre-1900 for the purest Turkmen carpets, rugs and utilitarian weavings, those unaffected by the commercial markets of the early 20th century onwards. For hundreds of years, the lifestyle of these nomadic peoples was little altered until the 19th century, when a series of blows was inflicted on Turkmen society as neighbouring countries, including Russia and Persia, began to subjugate these fiercely independent people. Tragically, the traditional culture and way of life of the Turkmen was gradually destroyed.

One particular weaving, which was symbolically important to the Turkmen, and featured here, was the Engsi. This was the door hanging at the entrance to the Turkmen yurt which symbolised the gateway to Paradise, depicted in the lower panel, with the central cross breaking the field into four parts and creating the four gardens of Paradise, where one is spiritually secure. The pentagonal symbol at the top of the central field is referred to as the 'kejebe' - a symbol of power and fertility.

This beautiful engsi in predominately madder-red, was made by a Teke weaver, dates to around 1870, and is in excellent condition.