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2015/26/10 Tent door cover (engsi), symmetrically knotted, wool, made by Yomut Turkmen women, Turkmenistan or north eastern Iran, late 1800s. Click to enlarge.

Tent door cover (engsi), Yomut Turkmen

  • 1875-1899
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 late 1800s. Notable features of this example, which give it great character, are the spacious setting of the characteristic Yomut bovrek motif in the four quadrants of the main field, the striking hexagon-framed ashyk-like motif in the top row of the elem (the deep lower border) and the bright colours of the galpyrga or pine trees in the lower row.

The Turkmen …


Object No.


Object Statement

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

Physical Description

The main field of the symmetrically-knotted pile weave tent cover or engsi is divided into four quadrants or panels by vertical and horizontal bars; the upper two panels are smaller than the lower two and all four are filled with diagonally set bovrek motifs. The central column is bordered with eight rhomboids in the top half and five in the lower half. The elem is divided into two panels: the top panel has ten large hexagonal motifs in dark blue, white and red, and the lower has nine gapyrga (pine tree) motifs in bright colours on a darker field. There are some minor faded repairs.

This engsi is Number 82 in the Upfold collection list; as such it represents the 82nd Turkmen piece acquired by the donor.



1630 mm


1450 mm



The design of the symmetrically-knotted pile weave rug is the classical engsi form, ie the main field is divided into four quadrants by vertical and horizontal bars featuring the tekbent motif, which also ornaments the main border. The four quadrants are filled with well-spaced diagonally set bovrek motifs; eight rhomboids edge each side of the vertical bar in the upper half and five in the lower half. The lower panel or elem is divided into two rows, the upper with a pattern of ten large ashyk-like motifs in hexagonal frames on a red ground and the lower one with nine gapyrga (pine tree) motifs, with downward pointing branches, on a darker field. The donor reports a similar example in Jourdan, plate 140.

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 cover, 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 in about February 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. 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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