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2015/26/7 Tent door cover (engsi), symmetrically knotted wool, made by Yomut Turkmen woman, Turkmenistan or north eastern Iran, early 1800s. Click to enlarge.

Tent door cover (engsi), Yomut Turkmen

  • 1800-1825
This fine tent door covering or engsi was woven by a woman of the Yomut Turkmen tribe in Turkmenistan or north eastern Iran in the early 1800s. A notable feature of this example is the use of several characteristic Yomut motifs; these include the small bovrek motif which is placed diagonally in each of the four quadrants of the rug, spacious, archaic curled- leaf motifs in alternating light and dark blue in the main borders, ashyks in the white-ground guard stripes, and two lively panels of …


Object No.


Object Statement

Tent door cover (engsi), symmetrically knotted wool, made by Yomut Turkmen woman, Turkmenistan or north eastern Iran, early 1800s

Physical Description

The main field of the tent door covering, or engsi, is divided into four compartments filled with small bovrek motifs diagonally placed. The main border and central vertical band feature curled leaf motifs on a red ground, while the guard stripes are on a white ground. The elem, the end panel at the foot of the engsi, has two horizontal bands of stylised trees with the branches reaching upwards, the lower one on a darker ground. Worn at the top.

The engsi is Number 38 in the Upfold collection list; as such it represents the 38th Turkmen piece acquired by the donor.



1630 mm


1440 mm



The design of this symmetrically knotted wool tent door covering or engsi features diagonally arranged bovrek motifs in all four panels; the bovrek motif is unique to Yomut weavings. Seven colours have been used: red brown, rust red, blue, blue green, dark brown, tan and ivory.

The main side borders, and the vertical and horizontal bars that divide the field into four, have an archaic curled leaf pattern, alternating blue, blue green on a rust red field. Flanking the central vertical bar are the usual engsi borders of rhomboids containing three triangles (with the exception of two); six in the lower half and seven in the upper. The secondary borders are ashyks on a white ground, each with giyak (barbers pole) guard stripes. The elem at the foot of the engsi consists of two panels of gapyrga (pine trees) with upturned branches on ok gosi trunks; giyak columns separate the trees. The top elem has the same rust red ground as the carpet and the lower panel is on dark brown; these two elem panels are separated by an atanak border.

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 tent door covering or engsi 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 engsi was purchased by the donor from Dennis Dodds in the USA in June 2003. 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. The engsi, with its one-way design, is thought to have been used as a tent door covering.

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


Tent door cover (engsi), Yomut Turkmen 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 27 October 2021, <>


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