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2015/26/6 Main carpet (khali), kepse gul, symmetrically knotted wool pile, made by Yomut Turkmen woman, Turkmenistan, early 1800s. Click to enlarge.

Main carpet (khali), Yomut Turkmen, early 1800s

  • 1800-1825
This fine main carpet or khali was woven by a woman of the Yomut Turkmen tribe in Turkmenistan or eastern Iran in the early 1800s. Notable features of this example are the spaciousness of the design of the main field, its lovely balanced colours, and the use of the large kepse gul which is offset diagonally and appears, as is usual for this gul, without a minor gul in the spaces between. Additionally, the large shrub-like motif in the elems is unusual and striking.

The Turkmen were mostly …


Object No.


Object Statement

Main carpet (khali), kepse gul, symmetrically knotted wool pile, made by Yomut Turkmen woman, Turkmenistan, early 1800s

Physical Description

This main carpet or khali is beautifully coloured, featuring large and spacious kepse guls and a striking elem design in bright red, blues and white on a dull red ground. A curled leaf main border set between sary itchen (running dog) guard stripes surrounds the field.

The carpet is Number 121 in the Upfold collection list, representing the 121st Turkmen piece acquired by the donor.



2660 mm


1640 mm



The spacious design of this symmetrically knotted main carpet or khali features beautiful colours and, in the main field, large offset kepse guls with C centres, each with seven colour segments; kepse means 'sheaf' in the Turkmen language. The side borders are curled leaf on a white ground, with a running dog outer guard stripe, while the tree-like motif in the elems is unusual.

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 Stolp Fraser in the United States in August 2007. 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, early 1800s 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 27 October 2021, <>


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