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2015/26/1 Main carpet (khali), symmetrically knotted pile, wool, made by Yomut Turkmen woman, Turkmenistan, late 1700s. Click to enlarge.

Main carpet (khali), Yomut Turkmen

  • 1775-1799
This fine main carpet or khali was woven by a woman of the Yomut Turkmen tribe in Turkmenistan or eastern Iran in the late 18th century. Notable design features of this example are the use of the early chuval gul in the main field and the bovrek device or motif in the deep, differently coloured elems at each end.

The Turkmen were mostly tent-dwelling pastoral nomads, whose ancestors are said to have moved westwards from Mongolia into Central Asia in around the 10th century. Relocating …


Object No.


Object Statement

Main carpet (khali), symmetrically knotted pile, wool, made by Yomut Turkmen woman, Turkmenistan, late 1700s

Physical Description

The carpet is symmetrically knotted. The design features four x ten large early chuval guls in the main field with ara gul minor ornaments in between. The ara guls are quartered with small box devices at the arm ends. The main border is a spacious early form of the meandering vine with heavy serrations separating unusual highly-stylized ashik motifs containing a variety of symbols; there are akhala guard stripes. The elem ground is a different colour to the main field and is decorated with four rows of the bovrek pattern, which is exclusive to the Yomut. Some patches and holes.

For a carpet with very similar chuval gul field and borders, though different minor gul, field colour and elems, see Sovrani Tappeti, 9th International Conference of Oriental Carpets (ICOC), plate 108, which is dated to 16C/17C. For a similar border see Loges lot 44.

This carpet is number 81 in the Upfold collection list; as such it represents the 81st Turkmen piece acquired by the donor.



2850 mm


1750 mm



The design of this symmetrically knotted main carpet or kali features four vertical rows of ten early chuval guls in the main field with small quartered ara minor guls, a meander border with stylised stepped ashyk motifs, and a darker elem (the deep border at each end) with four rows of offset bovrek devices or motifs. The bovrek device is roughly octagonal with the usual splayed feet, an indicator of an early date.

Fine wool from their flocks was always available to the Turkmen women for weaving their extensive repertoire of domestic and personal items. These included carpets, bands and bags to comfortably furnish the nomadic tent or oy and a collection of colourful trappings for their prized horses and camels.

Most Yomut Turkmen weavings are of cut pile construction, with a foundation of undyed goat hair or wool warps and two shots of coloured wool wefts (usually grey, brown or pink) or light brown camel hair between each row of knots. While symmetrical knots are more commonly found in Yomut weavings, asymmetrical knots are also sometimes used. To these structural characteristics, which help to distinguish Yomut weaving from other Turkmen weavings, may be added colour and design. The rich and varied reds that characterise Turkmen rugs and trappings generally were easily obtainable from local madder plants.

Christina Sumner
Formerly Principal Curator Design & Society
May 2013



This main carpet or khali is one of a large collection of 127 mainly Yomut Turkmen rugs and trappings assembled with a discerning eye over a 30 year period by the Sydney collector and donor Robert Upfold. The carpet was purchased by the donor from Nomadic Rug Traders in Sydney in January, 2005. Upfold's stated and generous intention was always to donate this collection eventually to the Powerhouse Museum.

Highly skilled in their execution, these rugs and trappings span the traditional range of production of the Yomut Turkmen women weavers and capture the essence of an independent people and their virtually extinguished nomadic way of life. Main carpets like this one may have been used on the floor of the Yomut tent on special occasions or hung on the wall of a more established residence.

The Yomut are the second largest Turkmen group after the Ersari and were divided into two main subgroups, one of which inhabited the area around the Balkan Mountains to the south-east of the Caspian Sea and northern Iran. The other group lived further to the north, east of the Aral Sea near the khanate of Khiva. Little is known of Yomut history, largely due to their warlike character and nomadic lifestyle, which ensured that they carried only essentials with them. While focusing almost exclusively on Yomut Turkmen weaving from the late 18th to early 20th centuries, the collection also includes six pieces from Igdyr, Saryk, Tekke and Chodor Turkmen groups.

Christina Sumner
Formerly Principal Curator Design & Society
May 2013


Credit Line

Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by Robert Upfold, 2013

Acquisition Date

22 April 2015

Cite this Object


Main carpet (khali), Yomut Turkmen 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 27 October 2021, <>


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