The recent exhibition at Minasian's in Evanston was the first devoted solely to Turkmen rugs and weavings ever presented in the Chicago area. Joseph W. Fell, who collected many of the pieces in the first place, offers an interested overview. Tribal Identities older than the general population of rug to note, are from my collection. Two which Turkoman Rugs from Central Asia collectors has its compensations. are, however, are worth mentioning: an early Minasian Rug Co., Chicago Avenue, The Minasian exhibit included some sixty maincarpetwith tauk nuskagills,anda well Evanston, Illinois, USA pieces. all but a handful from private collec- known 18thcentury mixed-gill carpet, last 10 December 1999 - 27 February 2000 tions. and a majority from my own holdings. shown in the 1980TM exhibition. It is rather which I had the pleasure of seeing together for primitive in its handling of design, indicative I Writing about an exhibition which included the first time. The scope was sufficient to believe of a relatively early date, since it must some forty of my own rugs and trappings is a enlighten the amateur as to the variety of have taken time for Yomut weavers to trans- bit like being given the opportunity to write items contained in the Turkmen universe. form a classicalleaf and palmette motif into a your own obituary. In short, it's too good to while there were enough interesting pieces for conventional tribal giil. I am reluctant. to the connoisseur to make a visit worthwhile. consider the alternative explanation - that passup. In defence of this act of hubris I would just say that that a lifetime of reading and The principal tribes were reasonably well the weaver was either inexperienced or writing reviews has reinforced my suspicion represented. but Yomut and Ersari works were incompetent. Besides,who am I to argue that most reviewers are no more objective especially prominent. in part due to the tastes with Jon Thompson and Louise Mackie, who than I am likely to be on this occasion. of the collectors. but also to the local lack of it assigned to the 18thcentury long before I did. In the early days,when most of my Turkmen early Salor and Saryk pieces. I did once own a Other Yomut pieces included an attractive pieces were acquired, I was an opportunistic fine Salor torba. but in a moment of financial Ilatwoven tent band, a money-bag face (1) in a collector; I bought whatever presented itself if need I sold it to a well-known collector who I tree design with nice colour, two additional I thought it was good, and if it was attainable knew would give it a good home. two main carpets (dyrnakand/!ePSt), flatweaves in light of my finances.To a great extent, fate From the extensive Yomut repertoire. in (one in a pile design), an okbash ofintermed- was in the driver's seat.Though Turkmens addition to four respectably old asmalyksand iate date, and two early torbas, one of which, were my collectable of choice, there was no half a dozen chuvals. at least two of which from a Milwaukee collection, deservedmore overriding purpose to the acquisition proc~s, arguably date to the early 19th century. there than a casualglance. Apparently the work of so I am unable to claim full credit for the final' was an unusually attractive mid-19th century Minasian'sChicago Avenuegallerywith an arrayof result. Rugs,at the time and place I did most gills maincarpetwith kepse on a chestnut mainlyYomuttribal weavings,but includinga rare of my collecting, were relatively plentiful and ground. and an appealing ensi with a rare Tekkebird asmalykhigh on the right-handwall and inexpensive - another reminder that being green border. Neither of the latter. I'm sorry a grand Beshir'palace' carpeton the floor. one of those hard-to-pinpoint Yomut tribal Above left: Ersari Turkmen prayer rug, Other notable early Tekke pieces included offshoots, it has large-scalearchetypal gills on first half 19th century. 0.99 x 1.93m<3'3"x 6'0"). a main carpet on a warm madder-red ground; a warm brown ground and a border of small Published:Renaissance Society,Islamic Prayer a torba with straight-sided gills; an unusual Rugs, Chicago 1973; Jones & Boucher, The Ersari squarescontaining single flowers: rather like and their Weavings, Washington 1975. small rug with so called chuval gills, end panels an Arabachi, except for the symmetric knot and with spindly flowers and a plum-coloured field; several other structural characteristics. Tekke,Ersari and Chodor weavings. Above:Selected two chuvalswith horizontal stripes, one all pile Ersari pieces included a long, narrow and the other pile stripes on a kilim ground. Below:Yomut Turkmen multi-gill main carpet, 'head and shoulders' prayer rug of the first And from the latter part of the 19thcentury, a 18th century. 1.57 x 2.54m (s'2" x 8'4"). Published: half of the 19th century, with ascending Mackie & Thompson, Turkmen, Washington 1980; main carpet with very well-drawn turreted Salor columns of flowers, an excellent example of Sienknecht, 'A Turkic Heritage', HAll 47,1989. gills and archetypal minor gills. Perhapsthe the type; an appealing small rug with a most interesting thing about this piece was pattern of squaresenclosing tulips; tWo its handle. which is as soft and flexible as a large ensis, the more attractive of which has pashmina shawl. Lessdesirable is the presence a rosy ground and a border which makes of what are undoubtedly synthetic dyes. extensive use of a light green, a colour for The Saryk were represented by an early which I have weakness,and which in my chuval with glossy wool and cotton details; collecting days often compelled me to make a small rug with archetypal gills from around an involuntary move for my chequebook; 1900; and a main carpet of approximately a minakhanidesign chuval of respectable the samedate with rather subduedcolours but agewith magentasilk details; an unusual in excellent condition. asmalyk with a small apex on a rectangular The floor of the exhibition gallery displayed base,a veteran of several previous exhibits; two room-size carpets. an exceptional large a large chuval with horizontal stripes and Beshir (Bukhara?).with attractive colour and long silky pile in unusually good condition, gill a wide main border, and an ertmen Chodor the result of some fifty years spent in a which was never meant for a nomad's tent. storagewarehouse; and a rather thin but This show was the fourth in a series striking chuval with a modified ikat motif, presented over the past two years by the a refined senseof spaceand a palette that Evanston rug gallery. and more are planned includes, surprise, a wonderful dark green, as and when worthy themes are developed. the latter belonging to one of Chicago's While the main purposeIS to cultivate a longtime Turkmen collectors. broader public for antique rugs.considerable As is usual for this tribe, the Tekke attention has been given to the interests of pieces were fairly conventional. The serious collectors. earliest example on view was a bird asmalyk, This is especially true of the Turkmen the serendipitous antique store discovery show. which by its very subject matter was of a local collector. Unfottunately rather collector-oriented. If it also broadened the worn and tattered, its finenessof weave, horizons of a few individuals who were ageand character impress nonetheless. It's under the impression that the Turkmen rug one of those pieces you're lucky to have was invented by royal weavers in Bukhara, regardlessof condition. so much the better.