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Plate Nine
Yomut Chuval
Archaic period

The design, colors, and materials of this chuval, and the previous example as well, are extraordinary and deciding to include it in the small group of known archaic period examples was not difficult even though it is in such a distressed condition.

The large main göls, which look similar to those of the next example, are quite different from Plate Six and Eight. But when those here (fig.35) and Plate Tenís(fig.35a) are carefully examined, two significant design differences can be observed. The first and most obvious are completely different ornamentation within the central shield-like patterns. Here they are triangles and in Plate Ten there are small Xís. The second, however, is not as easily noticed and is far subtler. The areas between the central shields and the outer perimeters of the göls, which are both outlined in blue, seem to be the same. But notice how the weaver of Plate Nine has added an extra set of four small rectangles between the central shields and the blue perimeters that are perfectly aligned with those at the ends of the spokes of the minor göls.

The göl centers of archaic period weavings from all Turkmen groups, not only the Yomut, vary and are not uniform, while those from the later weaving periods usually conform to one or two standard types. The theory each sub-group had their own emblems to distinguish their weavings had been formulated almost fifty years ago by Moskova, a talented and innovative Russian researcher. Proof for her argument concentrated on major göls, suggesting and differentiating live and dead ones, an approach that incidentally has recently come under critical fire. The concept göls demonstrate tribal identity might be more correctly proved by only considering the design differences in the shield-like central areas of archaic period major and the entire designs of minor ones.

The use of a shield for protection and defense was common in Central Asia and all the other areas of the Near East. Often round or oblong, but sometimes six or eight sided, they were decorated with identifying signs and heraldic emblems. Bearing this in mind, it would seem more than coincidental for the central area of the main and minor göls of these chuvals to invariably have a shield-like shape and to contain different emblems and ornaments of identity. These archaic period göls are far less likely to have been adulterated by the myriad of social, religious and political influences present during subsequent weaving periods.

The minor göls of archaic period chuvals were, like the centers of their major göls, also never exactly the same. Most times they were completely different and this example illustrates another minor göl archetype (fig35b). By and large minor göl were basically cross-like motifs, often with two crosses superimposed over each other at a 45 degree angle as seen here. Frequently they are as interesting as the major elements and might well eventually be proven to contain evidence of sub-group identification.

Notice in the center of the chemche minor göls of Plate Six the appearance of a design that in later weavings is used as a minor göl by itself (fig.36). The instances where new, later göls were created by using details lifted from archaic and classic period ones not only reaffirms the continuum these weavings maintain but also provides hard evidence supporting this re-examination of Moskovaís göl theory.


Fig.35 Major göl Plate Nine
Fig.35a Major göl Plate Ten
Fig.35b Minor göl Plate Nine
Fig.36 Detail minor göl Plate Six

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