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Plate Seven
Eastern Ersari Chuval
Classic Period

Ersrari weavings from the Khiva area and other eastern locations where they finally settled after migration from the west are not the products of a nomadic lifestyle; they reflect an entirely different weaving culture. Subjected to many new and foreign influences, in addition to the great internal change and stress experienced during the migration period, no examples of their eastern weavings could, therefore, be classified as archaic period like Plate Five has been. In light of the above and in spite of their being appreciably earlier than any others yet published, this Plate and the two other Ersari chuval illustrated in this description(figs.31 and 32) should be considered weavings of the classic period.

The fact the earliest eastern Ersari weavings do not have a göl layout and instead display non-Turkmen patterns proves the disruption the weaving culture underwent and illustrates the resulting discontinuity with an earlier, western Turkmen design repertoire. These eastern designs were derived from other influences and they no longer represent traditional Turkmen iconography but rather the beginnings of a newly developed hybrid and Ersari weavings more than those of any other Turkmen group clearly evidence the results these changes exerted.

The flowing, all-over patterned, icon-less drawing style is directly related to those used on a type of resist-dyed silk textile, known as Ikat, that are native to this area of eastern Turkmenistan. Because the Ikat weaving technique prevented a clear and exact rendering of designs, all Ikats have the same free and abstract quality and no doubt influenced the Ersari who made these wonderous chuval. Also notice the outer most border of Plate Four, the Ersari engsi, has an ikat inspired design.

In comparing these three chuval, the most obvious difference is the four sets of double horizontal bars in the field of fig.32 that add a rather disruptive element to the allover patterns. These should be viewed as a later addition to the prototype form Plate Seven initiates. In fact, Plate Seven and fig.31 are arguably earlier, as fig.32 has derivative field and elem designs based on elements lifted from these earlier examples.

This relationship becomes quite apparent when the far more regular and stylized field design is compared with Plate Seven. Within each of these sections there are two and a half large diamond shaped quasi-göl forms that seem to be out of place in such a free form design environment. These amorphous göls and the double bars prevent this design from attaining the rhythm and balance of Plate Seven.

Several other aspects of the relationship these three chuval share should also be mentioned. The presence of a single border and lack of the customary main and paired minor borders setup is highly unusual and thought to be an early feature. So are the versions of the standard tree-type designs in the added bottom panels, known as elem. Although Plate Sevenís are incomplete, enough remains to show an unknown and unique pattern and while figs.31 and 32 have the more traditional form, they too are extremely original. Notice how the weaver of fig.31 created a far more lively and animated version, particularly the depiction of two mask-like motifs(fig.33) suspended on each of the seven trees.

Another important point is their extensive use of a design technique known as terracing that creates designs with a characteristic step-like outline. These imitate those found on slit-tapestry, the earliest technique used to create weavings with complex patterns that were not embroidered or applied onto an already existing surface. Terraced designs usually have the connotation of being connected to an earlier slit-tapestry tradition and are rarely encountered in Turkmen weavings, which may support the idea cut-pile weaving technique was originated in south western Central Asia. The reason for their appearance here and in many other Ersari examples is interesting and quite enigmatic.


Fig.31 Ersari chuval classic period from Tent Band tent Bag Plate 31
Fig.32 Ersari chuval classic period from Tent Band tent Bag Plate 32
Fig.33 Detail of fig. 31

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