Tekke Main Carpet, circa 1800

In addition to bags, camel trappings, and other small utilitarian objects in knotted pile, Turkmen tribeswomen made main carpets for their tent floors. On their red fields, Tekke carpets have large, quartered main guls that alternate with smaller, often cruciform, guls enclosed in blue gridwork. Because they were produced throughout the 19th century and exported in quantity, these rugs have spawned a host of mechanical-looking modern imitations, including Pakistani versions in Western-living-room colors never imagined by Tekke weavers.

The earliest surviving Tekke carpets, however, transcend this modern stereotype. The wool of this example is soft and glossy, and its guls are spaciously distributed over a glowing red field. At the left side of the field, the weaver has added a few tiny flowers and comb-like amulets for variety. As in other early Tekke carpets, the borders are simple: uncluttered octagons alternating with stepped v's and a few other randomly inserted motifs that counter the regularity of the field pattern. The carpet has lost a vertical row of major guls at the right and at least one horizontal row at the bottom, and what remains of it has patches made from these missing parts. Despite its fragmentary condition, it retains the qualities of spontaneity, rich color, and tactile appeal sorely missing from its numerous progeny.


SIZE: 82 x 63 in. (208.3 x 160 cm.)
WARP: wool, Z2S; ivory
WEFT: wool, Z2S x 2; light brown
PILE: wool, Z2S, asymmetrical knots open right, h. 10, v. 15, 150 k/sq. in.; ivory, brown, dark brown, brown-red, orange-red, blue-green, blue
ENDS: cut
SIDES: cut, modern cord attached


Oriental Rugs from New England Private Collections