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2015/26/2 Main carpet (khali), symmetrically knotted wool pile, made by Yomut Turkmen woman, Turkmenistan, late 1700s to early 1800s. Click to enlarge.

Main carpet (khali), Yomut Turkmen

  • 1775-1825
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 or early 19th century. Notable features of this example are the octagonal major guls, each with eight small stylised animals, the chequered line dissecting some of the minor dyrnak guls that reflects an earlier form of this gul, and the striking serrated leaf pattern in the end borders (elems).

The Turkmen were mostly tent-dwelling pastoral nomads, whose ancestors …


Object No.


Object Statement

Main carpet (khali), symmetrically knotted wool pile, made by Yomut Turkmen woman, Turkmenistan, late 1700s to early 1800s

Physical Description

The main carpet or khali is symmetrically knotted in eight natrually dyed colours: rust red, red, dark blue, blue, green, yellow, black and ivory. The main field features three rows of ten tauk noska guls with dyrnak minor guls in between. The main border on one end and three sides has stepped ashyk motifs containing various small designs; the main border on the other end has a curled leaf pattern. Tekbent guard stripes with further giyak guard stripes run the length of the carpet and the elem features five regular rows of tree branches with the colours offset. There are some lost knots at the ends and edges.

In the Reuben (vendor's) catalogue, plate 18, it is noted that some of the dyrnak guls have a chequered line going through their centre horizontally and vertically, a feature which dates from when these guls were connected.

The carpet is Number 88 in the Upfold collection list, representing the 88thTurkmen piece acquired by the donor.



2820 mm


1670 mm



The design of this symmetrically knotted main carpet or khali features thirty quartered octagonal tauk noska guls, each containing eight stylised animals. The dyrnak minor guls are composed of a central quarterd diamond with surrounding hooks. The curled serrated leaf main border at one end of the carpet picks up the serrated leaf pattern in the elems, and the stepped ashyks in the other three main borders.

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.



This main carpet of 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 khali was purchased by the donor from Reuben in the United Kingdon in April 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 nomadic 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.


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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