Mysterious symbols of carpet masterpieces

Yurta (tent) is an original work of nomadic architecture. It is symbolical by the shape, laconic in construction, multipurpose and richly decorated. For the nations, whose traditions related to nomadic way of life, the yurta is concentrated mode of being, which unites religious opinions, mental, social and cultural features, history and traditions under its zoning and decoration.

The life of Turkmens was closely connected to the yurta. By filling its space with necessary household items and wares defining the originality and comfort of portable living, they tried subconsciously to harmonize the space with original decoration methods.

National originality of nomads’ houses was formed by decorative and applied art items. Bright carpets, felt items, various fabrics, embroidery and decorative accents highlighted ethnic colour. The evolution of artistic traditions and aesthetic views of Turkmens, spiritual and historical community of the tribes were reflected in ornamental order of these items.

The greatest attention was paid to wedding yurts, the ak toy, which symbolism and decoration had to bring happiness to new family. White felt cover, decorated with jewelleries and ornamented details, prevailed in exterior and interior design. They didn’t spare no materials neither means trying to make wedding yurta be rich and neat.

Parts of the carcases of the yurta were joined together with ropes, belts and tapes, round walls were surrounded by broad and narrow fabrics belts. Bands with tassels fixed at the roofing poles and hanging from them made the interior look neat. Upper part of lattice wall, which was fastened to the roofing poles, was tightened up by wide 30 – 45 cm canvas from the outside. It was ornamented and represented one of compulsory elements not only of the construction but the decoration of yurta as well.

Weaved wool bands, which played important compositional role in interior of the house, were used as exterior strapping. Ancient rugs were made with high quality, artistic value and rich colours.

Sometimes, there were the rugs with pile ornaments on top of lint-free basis. Special beauty of the house was achieved by the ak yup bands of milky white colour, which were weaved on special loom for decoration of ceremonial yurtas. The perfectness of technical methods stipulated the texture and stylistic variety of weaved items specific for different regions of Turkmenistan. Horizontal narrow-gauge portable looms were used to make them. Lint knot was made on the top row of the basis hence the outlines of the picture were not visible on the backside. The items were made of white wool thread by special technique – colourful ornament was weaved on lint basis.

In warm seasons, weaving loom was set next to the yurta on the grass what created the atmosphere of holiday. Rhythmic moves and energy of carpet makers delivered handmade miracles. The yurta was decorated with theme weaved band for Novruz Bayram: hemstitched flower ornament gulyaydy composed of tender tulip and poppy buds, large flower shrubs and bunches were placed on white background. To make flower nuances more lively, the good hand used silk threads.

Plants motifs were simple and complicated, which were called “The Tree of Life”. Skilful compositions “flower – head” were used not only for the decoration of rugs but for prayer mats also.

Some masters used simple ornamental composition and skilfully arranged it achieving compositional expressiveness. Lengthwise fringes of the rugs are composed of several rows of simple ornaments. The ends of the rugs were plain and filed with small flower ornaments in the shape of flakes running in cross cut rows (often as seven lines). Gulyaydy, dagdan, tumar ornaments had the function of the amulet. Sometime, there were pictures of wedding caravan or animals.

Introduction of camel wool, cotton and silk threads into the basis from lamb wool gave the originality to weaved bands. Turkmens associated the silk with sacral purity, which gives brilliance, depth and brightness to the item. Owing to droplets of ruby, turquoise, yellow and crimson colours as well as to pearl play of cotton threads, the weaved canvas that set off the yurta and symbolized the idea of the world’s eternity, served as compositional dominant of expressive decoration.

Artistic advantage of handmade items is in their stylistic harmony and compositional balance, well-thought variety of elements of the ornament. Geometric ornaments like squares with ledged edges or elongated ends, triangles – the amulets, cross-shaped figures, simple and stepped diamonds, meander, star shapes were most common motifs of lint carpet items. At the same time, vegetation and horn-shaped elements are presented in the ornament. The central field of some bands was decorated with plant ornament in the shape of trees or thick blooming bush.

The fringes are made of two or three narrow or wide strips. Cogged lines were used in narrow strips while the wide ones had the motifs in the shape of stepped diamonds, pair of ram horns or double curls placed in a row, squares decorated with chess pattern. The border was decorated with small patterns, most often by the row of diamonds.

Red colour associated with living power and protecting from evil eye was prevailing in the ornaments of weaved bands, carpets and curtains in Turkmen yurta as in the houses of the majority of Turkic nations. Sacral meaning was given by the symbolism of geometric figures of the ornament reflecting the evolution of the beliefs of Turkmen people.

Gyzyl yup, called such for deep red background, on which the meander of brown colour was built in resilient dynamic band, was especially beautiful. The colours of the rugs is very effective despite the prevalence of dark shade. The basis of the ornament, which organically combines topical elements, are the oblong diamonds of different colours. The impression made by the pattern of the central part is intensified by three-row fringe connecting the composition in single ensemble.

At present, the need in yurta bands is left behind and rare masterpieces of carpet art became the heritage of museum collections.