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2000/67/1 Horse cover, knotted pile weave, wool, made by a Tekke Turkmen woman, Western or Russian Turkestan, 1886 (1302 AH). Click to enlarge.

Knotted pile Turkmen horse cover

Unusually for a Turkmen weaving, the date of manufacture and the name of the weaver are woven into the neck section of this finely-woven horse cover. Such attributions are rare amongst the weavings of the Turkmen people. The presence of the inscription, the fineness of the weave and the large amount of synthetic dye used suggest that this horse blanket was a valued item, possibly commissioned for a Turkmen soldier or oasis official. It has been rarely used and is in excellent condition, …


Object No.


Object Statement

Horse cover, knotted pile weave, wool, made by a Tekke Turkmen woman, Western or Russian Turkestan, 1886 (1302 AH)

Physical Description

An irregularly-shaped knotted pile weave wool horse blanket whose design features geometrically patterned red, cream and black stripes. Two broad extensions from the upper edge form straps that are tied around the horse's neck, while the base has triangular extensions on either side, producing a flared shape. The blanket is very finely woven and the red dye(s) have run slightly. There is short fringing on some edges.

An inscription and date are woven along the upper edge. Transliterated as 'Saheb haza Al-kamr [///] Adleen cam 1302', the inscription and date may be translated as 'The owner of this 'cover' [///] Adleen year 1302 (= 1886 CE)'.

[///] indicates where the inscription is indecipherable. With thanks to Chadia Gedeon-Hajjar and Melanie Pitkin for their translation of the Arabic into English. An alternative reading of the date was originally given as 1324, or 1907.



1215 mm


1190 mm



This knotted pile wool horse cover or blanket was most probably woven in western (Russian) Turkestan in 1886 (1302 AH) by a Tekke Turkmen woman called Adleen. Horse blankets vary in size and this one is quite small; its shape however is typical.

Turkmen weavings are distinguished by glowing red dyes in a variety of shades that were traditionally produced with madder. However, the reds in this blanket have been tested and shown to have been produced with Ponceau 2R, a synthetic dye invented in Germany in 1878. This dye appears specifically in weavings from Russian Central Asia from the 1890s, making this an early example if the production date of 1886 is correct. Typically for Ponceau 2R, which manifests poor water and light fastnesa, the red dyes have run slightly.

The horse cover is asymmetrically knotted, with woollen warp, weft and pile. The geometrically patterned striped ground imitates the appearance of the more common flat weave horse covers produced by Turkmen weavers such as the Yomud. However, knotted pile horse covers of this design and colour are usually attributed to the Tekke, a view supported by the fact that the Tekke usually use asymmetric knots. Both asymmetric and symmetric knots are used in Yomud weavings, however symmetric knots are more common.



The horse cover was purchased by the donors Cito and Lyn Cessna while living in Afghanistan in the early 1970s.

Tribal weavings are functional as well as highly decorative, and Turkmen girls often wove horse blankets and other animal trappings for their dowries. Decorative horse blankets like this one were used at race meetings and other ceremonial and special occasions. Great importance was attached to the breeding and owning of horses in Central Asian society. Horses brought prestige and allowed men to move in relative safety through country and town.

The presence of the inscription and the fineness of the weave suggests that this horse blanket was commissioned from a Turkmen weaver, perhaps for a Turkmen soldier or employee. Its fineness also suggests that it was relatively important. The blanket has been rarely used, suggesting ceremonial or special occasion use.


Credit Line

Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by R B (Cito) and M M (Lyn) Cessna, 1999

Acquisition Date

31 May 2000

Cite this Object


Knotted pile Turkmen horse cover 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 27 October 2021, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Knotted pile Turkmen horse cover |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=27 October 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}