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2015/26/99 Camel trappings (asmalyk) (pair), symmetrically knotted pile, wool, made by Yomut Turkmen women, Turkmenistan, late 1800s.. Click to enlarge.

Camel trapping (asmalyk) (pair), Yomut Turkmen

  • 1875-1899
This fine asmalyk pair were woven by a woman of the Yomut Turkmen tribe in Turkmenistan or eastern Iran in the late 1800s. Notable features of these examples are their small size and good condition.

The Turkmen were mostly tent-dwelling pastoral nomads, whose ancestors are said to have moved westwards from Mongolia into Central Asia in around the 10th century. Relocating themselves and their animals with the changing seasons, the Turkmen were strongly independent and warlike. They kept …


Object No.


Object Statement

Camel trappings (asmalyk) (pair), symmetrically knotted pile, wool, made by Yomut Turkmen women, Turkmenistan, late 1800s.

Physical Description

Donor's notes: "Symmetric knots; ashik main field separated by twisted lattice. Running dog (sary itchan) guard stripes; outer border tekbent variation - right hand side more complex. Eight colours: rust red, brown red, dark brown, blue, blue green, dark blue, salmon pink and ivory. Small for asmalyk (baby camel?); no signs of repair.".

This asmalyk pair are Numbers 8 and 9 in the Upfold collection list; as such they represent the 8th and 9th Turkmen pieces acquired by the donor.



390 mm


780 mm



The design of this symmetrically knotted pair of asmalyks features an ashik main field separated with twisted lattice, running dog (sary itchan) guard stripes and an outer border with a tekbent variation. The right hand side is more complex. Asmalyks are decorative panels which hang on the bride's wedding camel and later in her tent. This pair are smaller than usual which may suggest that they were woven for use on a baby camel.

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 asmalyk pair is part 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 asmalyks were purchased by the donor from Nomadic Rug Traders, Australia, in June 2002. 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. This pair of asmalyks would have been used to decorate a bride's wedding camel and later her tent.

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


Camel trapping (asmalyk) (pair), Yomut Turkmen 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 27 October 2021, <>


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