plate 1

illustration 62

To the left is another Namazga II pottery vessel with a simply drawn three-tiered plant form like those described earlier on the elem of many chuval. The elem plant we pictured previously is the typical type and the one on the ceramic is not very similar. Illustration 63 is the far rarer and less seldom seen version.

illustration 63

This elem’s plant is a highly unusual and archaic version and perhaps this is the most likely reason why it, and not the more typical and later type, shows such a strong relationship to the Namazga II ceramic. The S group weaving it comes is extremely rare and in this author’s opinion one of the earliest S group weavings known.

It is interesting to imagine the diamond plate triangles between each of the three plants in the ceramic are the precursor of the four color-juxtaposed diamonds on either side of the plant in the elem. While this might be somewhat speculative the relationship these plants share in style and format isn’t.

illustration 64

The horizontal chevron band on another Namazga II ceramic pot, shown to the left, includes some chevron stripes with rarely seen stepped terrace outlining. Below is a detail of a seldom encountered Tekke main carpet border panel showing similar chevron with the same stepped-terrace outlines.

illustration 65

This unmistakable feature mimics slit-tapestry weaving and its representation on the pot and the Tekke border detail is quite significant. Slit-tapestry is the technical name for kelim, a weaving technique that appears to be the first method used to create a patterned textile where the pattern was woven into and not put on a weaving, i.e. by painting or other some other external means.

The reality slit-tapestry weaving existed 6,000 years ago during Namazga II, or even earlier, is controversial but supported and documented by the discovery of this and other ancient pre-historic decorated ceramics with similar stepped-terracing. The physical recovery of numerous spindle whorls, used to spin fiber, and the finding of peg holes in pre-hsitoric walls, presumably placed there to hang slit-tapestries, lends further evidence.

The decorated ceramics of the Namazga horizon also provide some clear-cut parallel to Turkmen weavings made in the same general area thousands of year later. Below is a painted ceramic, this one from Namazga IV circa 3,000-2,500BC, where two sets of concentric zig-zag lines form gol-like enclosures that are quite similar to the Chodor ertman chuval discussed earlier.

illustration 66

Again terraced outlines are present on the four cross-like emblems in each of those gol-like areas, which are somewhat similar to the minor gol made up of four boxes discussed in Plate Six.

Another pattern encountered on early archaeological ceramics from Turkmenistan is the running dog shown below on the horizontal band decorating a wide mouth large vessel from Andronovo culture, circa 1,500 BC.

illustration 67

Before and during the Bronze Age the movements of various indigenous and foreign groups into the Kopet Dagh, Gorgan Plain and other areas north and east can be traced through differences in the archaeological remains recovered at the many sites that dot these areas. And even though there are still many undiscovered sites and objects, the proof certain icons, amulets, and emblems found on Turkmen pile weavings have pre-historic roots should be quite obvious from the few examples presented in this conclusion.

The how and why of the mechanics that facilitated the transmission of these patterns of significance over thousands of years are not nearly as easily or as well yet documented but the prehistoric trade routes which proceeded the silk road are likely to have been involved. Perhaps someday when far more archaeological excavation and investigation has been accomplished the resulting data will give a far better picture than the one available today.

As we wrote in the beginning, this presentation should be seen as a work in progress, not as a final statement. It should be clear the iconography on Turkmen weaving maintains prehistoric and early post-historic roots. It might seem strange but in many ways the historic ones have been as difficult to identify and investigate as the prehistoric.

illustration 68

For example when we were researching the text published in the Tent Band Tent Bag book the only relevant historic textile we could locate to compare to a Turkmen weaving we owned was this one.

illustration 69

Since then, and thanks to the subsequent publication of the Stein textiles by the British and the Victoria and Albert Museums, as well as collections in other museum’s like the Abbegg Stiftung, the pool of source materials has been greatly enlarged. This has facilitated collecting most of the examples in our target group of textiles. Also the discovery of obscure publications that were unknown to us back in the early 1980’s has contributed to this presentation.


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