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2015/26/8 Tent door cover (engsi), symmetrically knotted wool pile, made by Yomut Turkmen woman, Turkmenistan, mid to late 1800s. Click to enlarge.

Tent door cover (engsi), Yomut Turkmen

  • 1850-1899
This fine engsi or tent door covering was woven by a woman of the Yomut Turkmen tribe in Turkmenistan or eastern Iran in the mid to late 19th century. Notable features of this example are the use of the bovrek motif in the four compartments of the main field of the rug, the strong spider-like guard stripes on a white ground, and the small talismanic motifs included on either side of the central vertical bar in the lower half of the rug. These are generally understood to be devices to ward off …


Object No.


Object Statement

Tent door cover (engsi), symmetrically knotted wool pile, made by Yomut Turkmen woman, Turkmenistan, mid to late 1800s

Physical Description

The design of the symmetrically-knotted pile weave rug is classical engsi form, ie the main field is divided into four quadrants by vertical and horizontal bars; the latter bar slopes downwards to the right hand side in this example. The four quadrants are filled with diagonally set bovrek motifs. The lower panel or elem is divided into two rows, the upper with a pattern of large offset serrated diamonds on a red ground and the lower one with gapyrga (pine tree) motifs on a darker field. Some wear showing.

This engsi is Number 39 in the Upfold collection list; as such it represents the 39th Turkmen piece acquired by the donor.



1660 mm


1385 mm



The design of this symmetrically knotted tent door covering, or engsi, features the typical division of the aubergine brown field into four quadrants ornamented with small diagonally arranged and closely-set bovrek motifs. The four quadrants are divided by vertical and horizontal bars in the same tekbent design on a rust red field as the main side borders. The secondary borders feature spider-like motifs on a white ground, each with giyak (barbers pole) guard stripes. In the lower two quadrants, several lovely talismans appear at either side of central bar.

The elem is divided into two panels separated by giyak stripes with a further giyak stripe at bottom. The upper elem panel has a variation of the dogdan pattern on a rust red field; the bottom elem has gapyrga (pine trees) with upward reaching branches and ok gosi trunks, separated by giyak stripes with comb like bases. Eight colours have been used: aubergine brown, rust red, dark blue, blue green, purple, gold, dark brown and ivory.

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 Nomadic Rug Traders in July 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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