Handmade carpet making art which preserves ancient traditions: “singing” ornaments of Turkmen skilled weavers

Handmade carpet making art which preserves ancient traditions: “singing” ornaments of Turkmen skilled weavers

Handwork carpets have a certain internal value which puts them above the products made by machine. After all laborious handwork includes an infinite series of elections and decisions, variations and improvisations that gives to a product individuality and “spirituality”, presence of the author – that is what is not suffice for the best carpets made by machines.

In Turkmenistan primordial handmade carpet making always was and remains employment of the best hereditary skilled weavers. Among them there are also those who the great attention gives to preservation of ancient ornaments, restoration of the lost patterns.

And carpet weaver Altyn Muhammedova with her 14-year-old experience, has made many original carpets and carpet products among which are replications of ancient samples.

– I since my childhood have been engaged in carpet making, it was transferred to me from my mother and to her from her mother that is from my grandmother – tells Altyn. – Once I saw a small black-and-white drawing in the scientific book about ancient carpets, it was «düýe halyk» (a carpet body cloth for a camel) which is now stored in the museum of San Francisco in America. And it wanted to restore this product anew.

In the drawing Altyn at once made out characteristic Turkmen patterns «güjük yzy» (a trace of a dog), «güne ş» (sun) which is similar to the pattern «erik gül» (an apricot flower), «mahrab» (a mosque element), and such widespread motives as «goçak» (horns), «tegbent» (alaja).

– On the basis of this drawing I prepared the sketch, counted it in details, – adds Altyn. – We weaved it with my sister for about one month. In each square metre of the finished item from wool we made 340 thousand small knots.

The skilled weaver used seven colours among which the terracotta – brown shade of red colour peculiar to architectural structures and potter’s art of olden time prevails, traditional carpet making.

At that Altyn Muhammedova not only restores disappearing patterns by unique samples, but also creates her own products.

By her own sketch (the thesis in the Academy of Fine Art) she made the first work in 2012. The carpet «Culture of Margush» brought her a victory in the nation-wide creative contest for the award of the president and it was included into the «gold fund» of the State Academy of Fine Art of Turkmenistan.

The carpet weaved in 2018, was inspired by the book of head of the state Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov «Turkmenistan – heart of the Great silk road».
It was executed in a 3D format; in the centre the map of routes of the legendary line road through blossoming trading cities of the Turkmen land is located. In ornaments the «Seljuq» pattern borrowed from an ancient carpet, dated XI-XII centuries was used. The skilled weaver applied 120 colours of the yarn obtained both from natural and chemical dyes. It took her and her two assistants two months of work.

– Having set for herself the goal to restore one more pattern from the museum carpet heritage, I have made the sketch and have weaved on it «haly torba» (a carpet bag-bag for small household things). Its design is characteristic for Lebap region, and people name such thing «arsary torba» (Arsary bag). In its decorative component it is possible to see symbols-images of nature of east Turkmenistan, legends and stories connected with historical sights of Lebap: waves of the Amu Darya, silhouettes of elephants, and traces of dinosaurs …

So, keeping and returning life to ancient ornaments, skilled weavers continue a thread of continuity of many generations, in millions carpet small knots transferring history of the native land from heart to heart through music for eyes what is rich in art expressiveness, design aesthetics of the Turkmen carpet.

Mahri Yagmurova