• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2006

    Oriental Rugs And Carpets Including Property From The Doris Duke Collection And The Newport Restoration Foundation

    3 June 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 1



    Price Realised  


    West Turkmenistan, Mid 19th Century
    Approximately 4 ft x 2 ft. 7 in. (122 cm. x 79 cm.)

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    Turkoman tradition dictates that Asmalyk pieces, woven in pairs, were made by elder women for the dowries of the tribe's young brides. Following their adornment of the camels in the ritual march of the bridal ceremony these weavings were then hung festively from the interior trellises of the nomadic Turkmens' tents. This domestic art form exemplifies the oral transmission of a family heritage as the patterns were passed down from mother to daughter generation after generation.

    The ivory ground makes this Asmalyk exceptional. The importance of this choice in field color should not be understated; it codes the social milieu, the use, and the ranges of metaphorical meaning at play in the piece. "White is the colour for weddings among the Turkmen and the white ground [is associated]... with the idea of fecundity of marriage." (J. Thompson, Oriental Carpets: From the Tents, Cottages and Workshops of Asia, New York, 1983, p. 100.

    This example demonstrates a rare motif of ascending tree-like and hook device branches with animal and amulet devices at the apex. There are other extant examples of ascending tree branches in rows but the combination with the hook device branch is unusual. Our example also stands out for the fine serration that is articulated at the top of the individual leaves on the branch. This fine serration has a zoomorphic effect to each leaf terminus. More commonly, the serration is at the bottom of the leaves and is more jagged and thick in nature. For an example of the more common leaf serration, please see an ivory ground Asmalyk in the Collections of the State Russian Museum of St. Petersburg (Concaro, E. and Levi, A. eds., Sovereign Carpets, Milan, 1999, p.213, pl. 199).

    The secondary devices of amulets at the crest of this piece are reminscent of the more defined wedding caravan depictions seen in a rare group of Yomut Asmalyk weavings (see Herrmann, E. Von Uschak bis Yarkand Seltene Orientteppiche aus Vier Jahrhunderten II, Munich, 1979, pls. 91 and 92). Signifying longevity and protecting against bad luck, the use of these amulet devices is appropriate for a dowry weaving.