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2015/26/3 Main carpet (khali), symmetrically knotted wool pile, made by Yomut Turkmen woman, Turkmenistan or eastern Iran, mid 1800s. Click to enlarge.

Main carpet (khali), Yomut Turkmen

  • c 1850
This fine main carpet or khali was woven by a woman of the Yomut Turkmen tribe in Turkmenistan or eastern Iran in the mid 1800s. Notable features of this example are its extra length in proportion to its width and the density of the patterning in the main field, including thirty-three of the octagonal tauk noska guls often seen in Yomut carpets, and the strong meandering vine design on a white ground in the main borders.

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 or eastern Iran, mid 1800s

Physical Description

This main carpet or khali is proportionately quite long with a dense main field design that features three rows of eleven tauk noska main guls. The minor guls are of concentric diamond form with hooks at the four points and fit neatly into the spaces between. The meandering-vine long borders have curled leaf motifs within stepped diamond forms on a white ground. The elems are decorated with stylised tree branches in varying colours ascending towards the field.

The carpet is Number 97 in the Upfold collection list; as such it represents the 97th Turkmen piece acquired by the donor.



2820 mm


1670 mm



The relatively dense design of this symmetrically knotted main carpet or khali features thirty-three octagonal tauk noska main guls, which are often found in Yomut carpets, each containing four pairs of small stylised animals. The design in the elem is the zig-zagging connected tree branches pattern in different colours. The tree of life is an ancient symbol, common to many cultures; it symbolises regeneration of life and its presence in often treeless Central Asia is not surprising.

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 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 khali was purchased by the donor from Nomadic Rug Traders in Sydney in July 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.


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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