In general, an “oriental” carpet or rug follows a particular design pattern that includes a central field surrounded by one or more borders. These borders create a protected space within the rug and are often filled with geometric motifs as with this chuval, or they might contain flowers and garden imagery as in the Persian tradition. Today, oriental-style carpets are made all over the world. Different materials are used to create them, and some are made by machine while others are made by hand. Regardless of their place of origin, these carpets all represent the ancient carpet-making traditions of the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia.
Where was this textile created?
Tent bag (chuval)
Asia: Central Asia, Turkmenistan, Western Turkmenistan; Yomud Turkmen people
1860 - 1880
Wool yarns woven in knotted pile technique
57 cm x 121 cm
Gift of Fred Braida
T87.0619 Textile Museum of Canada
For nomadic peoples like the Yomud, carpets were essential elements of their dwellings and a sign of prosperity. Even a bag such as this chuval was considered a part of their carpet-making tradition, and they used it for transporting possessions when they migrated. The repeating medallions known as gols (in the centre field) are thought by some rug specialists to represent places with rich grass and water pools, which the Yomud would visit to feed their flocks of sheep and camels.
Whether the inner field of an oriental carpet contains a pattern of gols, or a central medallion surrounded by smaller medallions, the powerful themes of harmony and protection endure even though the exact symbolism of the rug may no longer be clear.
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