Soft sculpture from a Turkmen carpet-weaver

Soft sculpture from a Turkmen carpet-weaver

Shatgeldy Bozaganov told me that carpet weaving – is akin to an exact science. The craftsman went a long way of perception before becoming a carpet craftsman. His extraordinary carpets are known not only in Turkmenistan, but also in Europe, Russia and Asia.

During 18 years of carpet-making practice, Shatgeldy created more than 200 different carpet products – from a prayer rug to unique carpet paintings. Among them is the most famous composition – the Akhal-Teke horse, performed in 3D format. Long ago this masterpiece was called the eighth wonder of the world, but for the master of carpet-making, who is not used to be satisfied with what has already achieved, there is only one motto: “There is no limit to perfection!”.

Today, he is thinking about new designs for his exclusive carpets. The plans are to recreate the “immortal chess game” played in London in 1851 by Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky on a fleecy canvas. So what is the uniqueness of the miracle carpets of the Turkmen master?

“I use only natural wool for my carpets, – says Mr. Shatgeldy. – I never use dyes, but to find the color I need, I go to the pastures where our local farmers graze flocks of sheep, lambs, and camels. I find wool of the required tingle here. In spring, I shear overgrown sheep of Sarajin and Karakul breeds getting about two kilograms of wool from each one. I went to the stud farm to collect hair from the tails of horses for the carpet “8th wonder of the world”, therefore such a naturalistic horse turned out in a 3D picture.”

Shatgeldy brings the extracted wool to the workshop, separates it by color, washes it thoroughly, and then creates woolen threads with his own hands – yarn that will serve as a material for a carpet in the future. And, as there are no two identical shades of white, so Shatgeldy does not have two identical carpets. The master admits that he could never repeat, copy his previous work, so it turns out that there are only exclusive carpets in the collection of Shatgeldy.

“You will never find the same one anywhere, – laughs the master. – Once I was told that Mary craftsmen started weaving carpets from natural wool without using paint, as I do. I was curious, so I went to the regional store, where they boasted of natural carpets. What was my surprise when the seller showed me the carpet I had made. I was pleased and proud, of course, that my work was so valued.”

Brought up in a family of hereditary carpet-makers, in his boyhood, Shatgeldy fell in love with carpet craft. He helped the workers to weave threads and tie knots. Having studied at the technical school of mechanization, the young man did not leave his devotion to carpets, and even took a carpet-maker to his wife.

“I can’t do without carpets any more, I even dream of new stories that I would like to embody on carpet canvases. However, creating a carpet is far from simple, you need to know the exact sciences well. The carpet is physics, geometry, chemistry, mathematics and, of course, history. Knowledge of sculpture would be of service to every carpet maker to be able to give volume to the composition, and the artist’s talent is simply necessary. Chatoyancy, chiaroscuro and other knowledge that the artist has, are very useful in carpet making. I also had to master hairdressing, because I cut the extra fur on the carpet to get the necessary shape.”

“Sometimes, after finishing work upon the next carpet, I wonder whether my hands have created it, if I am involved in such beauty. Then I think it is Allah who gives me strength. He helps me in my work, guides me, without his help I would not have managed.”

Carpet pictures of Shatgeldy weigh from 50 kilograms, he enchases them in elaborate frames. One of the first works of the master – Yanardag horse, is stored in the Ashgabat Museum. Showing his carpets on a variety of art exhibitions, Shatgeldy over and over again asks the impressed viewers not to touch the canvas with their hands. But everyone, like a magnet, is enticed to touch the pile and feel its softness.