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2015/26/13 Tent door cover (engsi), symmetrically knotted, wool, made by Yomut Turkmen women, Turkmenistan, mid 1800s. Click to enlarge.

Tent door cover (engsi), Yomut Turkmen

  • c 1850
This fine tent door hanging or engsi was woven by a woman of the Yomut Turkmen tribe in Turkmenistan or north eastern Iran in the mid 19th century. A notable feature of this example is the extensive and creative use of the simple stepped ashik motif to form more complex combinations. The ashik appears in different colours and diagonally set as the main motif in the field, combined with a meandering vine pattern in the central column and main borders, and appears as a large form topped with …


Object No.


Object Statement

Tent door cover (engsi), symmetrically knotted, wool, made by Yomut Turkmen women, Turkmenistan, 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 by vertical and horizontal bars. The four quadrants are filled with differently coloured and diagonally set ashik motifs. Ashiks also feature in the meandering vine main border and the lower panel or elem. The upper elem has gapirga (pine trees) with upward reaching branches.

The engsi is Number 113 in the Upfold collection list; as such it represents the 113rd Turkmen piece acquired by the donor.



1650 mm


1350 mm



The design of this symmetrically knotted tent door cover or engsi features the stepped ashik motif as its main device. The ashik appears in different forms and scale in the four quadrants of the field, the main borders, the central vertical and horizontal bars, and the lower elem. In the secondary white ground borders are syrga motifs with gochak (paired horns) devices in the outer pair.

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 from Nomadic Rug Traders in Sydney in November 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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