The Powerhouse acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the ancestral homelands upon which our museums are situated. We respect their Elders, past, present and future and recognise their continuous connection to Country.
2015/26/14 Tent door cover (engsi), symmetrically knotted, wool, made by Yomut Turkmen women, Turkmenistan or north eastern Iran, early 1800s. Click to enlarge.

Tent door cover (engsi), Yomut Turkmen

  • 1800-1825
This fine tent door covering or engisi was woven by a woman of the Yomut Turkmen tribe in Turkmenistan or eastern Iran in the early 1900s. Notable features of this example are the bovrek motifs in the main field and in the lower panel of the elem or end border, the absence of the typical rhomboid forms usually drawn along the central vertical column, and the large stylised floral motifs in the upper panel of the elem.

The Turkmen were mostly tent-dwelling pastoral nomads, whose ancestors are …


Object No.


Object Statement

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

Physical Description

The field of the tent door cover (or engsi) is divided as usual into four quadrants. These are filled with bovrek motifs. Unusually, there are no rhomboids guarding the central vertical column. In the lower panle of the elem at the foot of the carpet, are bed bovreks on a rich blue field.

Some patches and holes centre left and at top with some knots missing at the sides. See similar piece Hoffmeister item 18.

This engsi is Number 127 in the Upfold collection list; as such it represents the 127th, and the final Turkmen piece acquired by the donor for this collection.



1550 mm


1400 mm



The design of this symmetrically knotted tent covering or engsi features blue bovrek motifs in the four compartments of the main field with, unusually, no rhomboids guarding central column. The horizontal and vertical columns are in the tekbent design with quite rounded old form ashiks each containing small plant like devices in the strong secondary white-ground borders. The upper panel of the elem at the foot of the carpet features a large complex floral motif; in the lower elem panel there are red bovreks on a rich blue field.

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 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 Sydney in March 2006. 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. Given their one way design, it is generally thought that engsis were most likely used as door hangings or coverings.

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, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Tent door cover (engsi), Yomut Turkmen |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=3 December 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}