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Plate Three
Tekke Engsi
Archaic Period

The Tekke are perhaps the most well known Turkmen group because of the profusion of later weavings produced towards the end of the 19th century that up until recently were known as princess bokara. They were the last to be defeated by the Russians and a post-conquest military sponsored census to record the locations and numbers of Turkmen villages listed the Tekke as being the most numerous remaining group. But before their defeat at the hands of the Russians, the Tekke had absorbed through conquest and treaty numerous other Turkmen groups. As a result many pre-conquest Tekke weavings were influenced by the designs of these other groups.

It is possible most Tekke, in common with other Turkmen groups like the Salor, were never nomads as they seem to have spent a majority of their time living in settled villages. Compared to other Tekke engsi this example surely warrants an archaic period designation, as its materials, colors, design and proportions are far superior. However, comparison with Plates One and Two highlight its differences in wool and dye quality and lack of the archaic icons that can be connected to cult ritual. Notice the difference between the recumbent animal border seen here and in Plate One.

The question - whether a weaving was produced by a nomadic or a settled group - is very much like - was it produced for domestic or cult use. These topics are extremely pertinent and it is surprising they have never before been raised or considered by any other researchers or authors. Results from the Museum's planned forensic scientific testing and ethnographic research will help to conclusively settle them, as well as establish the higher level of academics this field so sorely lacks and badly needs. Determining the minute clues available to detail production methods combined with targeted environmental sampling in known production areas, in addition to new historical and ethnographic research will allow specific weavings to be attributed to the weaving groups known to have inhabited those locations.

The most interesting design feature of this engsi is the very rare major border which contains a design(fig.23) known to the Turkmen as 'gopaz'(lyre). No other Turkmen group weavings utilize this design, and while it appears on only a very few other Tekke engsi, its articulation here is far superior. A stone relief (fig.24)from Kara Tepe, an archaeological Bronze Age site, located in the foothills of the Kopet Dagh between Merv and Ashkhabad, shows a musician playing a lyre. Not only does this give some idea of this instrumentís antiquity but it places this relief quite close to the area where Plate Three was made. Connections between the archaeological pre-history of Turkmenistan and the weaving culture of the Turkmen are waiting to be discovered and examples such as this prove their relevance and importance.

Fig.23 Detail from Plate Three
Fig.24 Relief from Kara Tepe showing musician


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