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2015/26/9 Tent door cover (engsi), eagle motif, symmetrically knotted, wool, made by Yomut Turkmen woman, Turkmenistan or north eastern Iran, mid 1800s. Click to enlarge.

Tent door cover (engsi), Yomut Turkmen

  • c 1850
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 1800s. Notable features of this example are the use of the bovrek motif, which is unique to the Yomut weavers, in the four main panels and the large and striking 'eagle' motif that tops the central column and is repeated three times in the end panel or elem. Additionally, small talismanic motifs are included on either side of the central column in the top half of the …


Object No.


Object Statement

Tent door cover (engsi), eagle motif, symmetrically knotted, wool, made by Yomut Turkmen woman, Turkmenistan or north eastern Iran, mid 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 or panels by vertical and horizontal bars; the upper two panels in this engsi are smaller than the lower two. All four are filled with diagonally set bovrek motifs. The central column is topped with a large eagle motif which is repeated three times in the upper panel of the elem; the lower one has gapyrga (pine tree) motifs on a darker field. There are some minor faded repairs.

This engsi is Number 48 in the Upfold collection list; as such it represents the 48th Turkmen piece acquired by the donor.



1640 mm


1500 mm



The design of the symmetrically-knotted pile weave rug is classical engsi form, ie the main field is divided into four panels or quadrants by vertical and horizontal bars. The takbent motif appears in these bars and in the main border, all on a red ground. White ground side borders feature the syrga pattern with small ashyks in the top and bottom borders and gyra, ok gosi and giyak guard stripes. In the four main panels, bovrek motifs are closely set diagonally with unusual talismanic motifs on either side of the central vertical bar in the top half.

Atop the central column is the striking 'eagle' motif, which is repeated three times in the larger top panel of the elem. The lower panel has the gapyrga (pine tree) pattern with giyak tree trunks; the trees are separated by ok gosi strips. Seven colours have been used: aubergine, dark blue, green blue, red, brown, yellow and ivory. Dennis Dodds, from whom the donor purchased this engsi, recounted that Russian scholar Elena Tsareva thought it might be identified as Ogurjali, a Turkmen tribe within the Yomut 'confederacy'.

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 March 2004. 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. The engsi, with its one-way design, is thought to have been used as a tent door covering; this example which features a large eagle motif at the top of the central column may also have been used as a prayer rug.

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 3 December 2021, <>


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