Home > Turkmen Rugs >Chodor Chuval
Mon, Mar 25th, 2019 06:32:42 AM
Topic: Chodor Chuval

(RK is relisting the following, which appears in the "Einstein on..." thread published in the "Bulletin" Topic Area, for those readers who might not realize the direction that discussion has taken.

To view the complete thread we invite readers to check it out in the "Bulletin" area.)

No, absolutely not.

You are not a bother and RK enjoys discussing rugs with anyone who comes here without an axe to grind, especially one aimed at yours truly.

Looking at a picture of a chuval like the one in question is far different from handling it.

We have reproduced it below from the Weaving Art Museum exhibition "Animals Pearls and Flowers: synthesis of Turkmen weaving" where we published it once more as Plate 10.

You might be interested in our comments, Fahad, so here is a link for you to follow:


And here is the link to the page where Plate 10 appears:


Chodor ertman chuval, ex-JC collection; published in "Tent Band Tend Bag- classic Turkmen weaving"; sold Tent Band Sale, December, 1990

RK does not have any idea what exactly your knowledge state about Turkmen, and specifically Chodor chuval, might be. Therefore perhaps what you say might be different were the chuval in your lap.

The minor border juxtaposing tiny multi-colored boxes between simple parallelogram is a brilliant piece of weaving, one that occurs in no other Chodor weaving we have ever seen or heard about.

Of course that in itself is not prima facie evidence of older vs younger but it is something that, along with other factors we mention below, establishes the basis for such a statement, ie it is early.

The coloration of the chuval, particularly the clear orange-yellow, a purple and not brown, purple ground and a vibrant orange-red also substantiate the early dating.

And the articulation of the ertman and secondary gol motif are also among the best of their type.

Here's a good tip for you and others to study, and use to identify early Chodor, ie ertman, pieces.

Notice the thin "lightning" trellis that surrounds the ertman gol is not equidistant from top to bottom -- rather is closer at the middle and farther away from them at the top and bottom.

This electrifies the iconic ertman pattern, taking it from a two-dimensional representation to a three dimensional one.

Also please note the chuval has been cut and shut and that is why the first set of ertman gol on the left appears to be truncated making the chuval lopsided and misshapen.

So, Fahad, please go study the piece with our comments above in your mind's eye and report back here...if you like.

The other questions you raise -- concerning Islamic or pre-historic influence are not so neatly and succinctly addressed, so we will not enter that fray.

However, we are pretty sure the ertman gol is not among the earlier Turkmen icon -- it is far too complex and at the same time too simple. It is no doubt based on the two bird flanking a tree, which is an ancient Persian metaphor surely not lost on the Turkmen who inserted it into their visual vocabulary.

In brief, we'd put our bet down that it, the ertman gol, is more an invention, ie lifting of that two bird/tree metaphor, and the associated secondary gol, with the star and four-point 'compass', the earlier pre-Persian icon.


Exactly. I like your approach.

And, there are no scholars among dealers.

It's about lack of evidence. Thanks for clarification.

As regards the specific Chodor chuval, I beg to disagree with your description, in particular, "This is one of the few Chodor chuvals from the earliest period (sic!). It has the spacious and clear drawing, wonderful color palette and very rare border patterns that should be expected from examples of great age ..."

I suppose, these women created these bags for thousands of years.

So what is the "earliest period" here.

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and the composition (I suppose you know what I mean) might be considered awkward by some.

It is special, but why should it then be older?

BTW, do you identify any Islamic influence in the design, certain symbols? In general, in particular. What is pre-Islamic, what pre-historic?

If you feel bothered, just dump me. Best, Fahad

Author: Fahad
email: aliqapoo@hotmail.com
Wed, Oct 5th, 2011 08:46:57 PM

While appreciating your exuberance for discussion and interest in weavings might you delve a little deeper with your statements?

You mention Armenian weavings being different...different than what?

Turkmen, which are quite easily defined, or are you referring to "Islamic" weavings which, quite frankly, are not so easily defined.

And also what periods?

The artistic iconographic vocabulary on the few Sassanid textiles that remain, like all the other art produced by large-scale societies who "ruled" the Near Eastern lands, where the later weavings (called oriental carpets) were made prior to the Islamic conquests, is based on heraldic animals and hunting 'scenes'.

Of course, some few of these images can be extrapolated and shown to be "sources" for some types of oriental carpets; however, not for many of those which interest RK -- Anatolian village rugs and kelim and Turkmen weavings. And, for completeness, we'd also throw in soumak bags.

But the relationships they imply are, for those oriental carpets, just that implication.

There is not one direct, one to one, comparison we know, which is not surprising.

Well, at least not to RK and our position the undiscovered roots of archetypical examples of these oriental carpets, again few in number, (read Anatolian village, Turkmen and soumak khorjin) share a common source with the equally undiscovered roots of weavings made by Sassanid and other large-scale "ruling" societies.

Are you familiar, Fahad, with the last exhibition, "Animals, Pearls and Flowers: Synthesis of Turkmen Iconography", RK published on the Weaving Art Museum website?


We pictured some so-called Sassanid, as well as related slightly later textiles, and demonstrated the relationship they imply to certain Turkmen icons.

Please note: We did not do this to show these Sassanid and later textiles are the source for Turkmen iconography, not be a long shot.

But rather, to repeat, our thesis is both share descent from a common, and yet undiscovered, design pool.

The full blown highly developed character of the Sassanid and other textiles we illustrated, as well as that of the Turkmen weavings, surely support such a concept.

What types of textiles and weaving did the Khazar have? Or the Hittites? Or the other unknown small, and even smaller, scale, societies history has forgotten, or is it omitted?

These are 64,ooo dollar questions and are huge obstacles for carpet studies.

As for the Chodor who inhabited Mangushlak being Khazar?

Where on earth did you get this idea?

Or is it from mumkrazy kurt's bag of silly nonsense?


Well, for instance, Armenian (Christian) weavings are different.

One further suggestion (I made it already in one of my first postings): Are there any comparisons of, say, 17th century weavings with those of pre-Islamic times (e.g., Sasanid?).

Did any textile survive from 5th, 6th, 7th century?

Then, what struck me recently, are there any weavings and did any survive from 9th, 10th century Khazars, which were Jewish?

Their territory bordered for instance Turkestan.

The Mangyshlak Chodors might even have belonged to the Khazars then. Interested, Fahad

Author: Fahad
email: aliqapoo@hotmail.com
Wed, Oct 5th, 2011 11:19:57 AM

RK Replies:

Your question, Fahad, brings up a sorta "which came first the chicken or the egg" postulate.

And the very word, Islamic, is such a broad one; as well as one that is, and means, different things to different people.

As far as Islamic influence in early Turkmen weaving iconography?

We see more in gol-centric weavings, chuval/torba/etc, than in non-gol-centric ones, engsi/tentband etc.

But, generally, at this point in our progressive study and research of Turkmen weavings we shy away from trying to put what we see into such broad category as Islamic and pre-historic.

We see the subject as too complex for such this or that reasoning.

Plus in the end what is 'Islamic'?

PS: we still are confused about your reference to who you are talking about; how about just coming out and naming names? After all this isn't Schlinder's list...


"So, Fahad, don't mistake our unwillingness to open the topic of pre-historic influence on iconography displayed on Turkmen weaving as anything but unwillingness, it is surely not ignorance."

Just briefly, I am interested in Islamic influence, not pre-historic.

The latter is evident. I was puzzled by an expert's view (you mentioned him in the beginning of our conversation; he sold me the Chodor chuval) that there is no, not at all.

I found that ridiculous, but what is your opinion? Best, Fahad

Author: Fahad
email: aliqapoo@hotmail.com
Mon, Oct 3rd, 2011 11:39:29 PM

RK Replies:


We are a bit confused reading your latest post.

What exactly do you mean by "common standards" and their "violation".

Who are these "disciples" of RK?

Also, RK does have a pretty good, for a layman that is, knowledge of "pre-historic" iconography particularly Anatolian and southwest Turkmenistan, as we spent a number of years studying the literature, as well as being fortunate to have had James Mellaart as a "tutor"

Mellaart is perhaps the most controversial archaeologist of the last half of the 20th century. He did fantastic work, research and discovery that is beyond any doubt. However, Mellaart's foray into rugDUMB, which was initiated and promoted by our contact with him, was far from outstanding.

It's a long story, and surely not our fault. RK wrote about in our Anatolian Kelim opus.

If you or any other readers do not know the Mellaart story and are interested to find out the facts we suggest you read it in the Anatolian Kelim" Topic Area, in the "All Parts Together" thread. This is the URL for the complete 29 part series.


The one where we discuss James Mellaart is Part IV, which you can see at this URL


So, Fahad, don't mistake our unwillingness to open the topic of pre-historic influence on iconography displayed on Turkmen weaving as anything but unwillingness, it is surely not ignorance.

Concerning fake soumak bags? Well that's something that has gone on for some years, since 1985 or so, but before then there were few, really, if any on the market.

RK has seen many and at this point we are 98.9 percent sure we can spot them in photographs and 100 percent sure in person.

As for naming names, as you said? Well, this too RK feels we have to comment about.

The fact you hesitate to "name names" is something we believe is wrong -- and is one of the major symptoms rugDUMB suffers.

By allowing those who do wrong, who forward specious ideas and opinions, who act in a greedy and duplicitous manner, to escape disclosure only empowers them to continue their improper actions.

RugDUMB does not need a police force to monitor it. What it needs is self-regulation where each and every person who is involved must take on this responsibility.

The present sad and sorrowful state of affairs is the result of this deficiency.


Jack, I'll do that later, I promise.

When having contacted you, I have started with some common standards when publishing (e.g. correct quotation) which had apparently been violated in Munkacsi's article.

The next was my question of how far would you go in just speculating about age and provenance of admittedly wonderful pieces.

I noticed that you argue very much in a way as your former disciples whith whom I had some discussions in particular about age before.

What I would prefer (and you certainly do as well) is, of course, firm evidence and not drawing links to certain historical facts (name dropping, wowing) which by and large had completely ignored for instance the sociology of the common people, i.e. tribal communities (I've read Tapper's study of the political and social history of the Shahsavan, by the way).

I was pretty much pleased about your answers, in particular your reluctance to even touch areas where you seem not to be so much familiar with (e.g., what is Islamic, what pre-Islamic, what pre-historic?).

Next, I gave you an example of how far opinions of self-declared "opinion leaders" may differ when it comes to tribes and their weavings in NW Iran in the 19th century.

And not at least, I had pointed to the numerous fakes on the market, in particular of allegedly 19th century flatweaves, after Tanavoli's publication (probably even already after the Bosphorous Samarkand publication).

But they (the fakes) serve well the bragging "experts" I suppose, even famous auction houses.

In much I feel sort of consensus between the two of us.

But I am reluctant to mention names.

It doesn't matter, I suppose most of them I don't want to meet in person.

So, thanks again. I'll keep in touch.

Best, Fahad

Author: Fahad
email: aliqapoo@hotmail.com
Mon, Oct 3rd, 2011 12:47:18 PM

RK Replies:

Thanks for the compliments.

Yes, I started collecting soumak khorjins in the very later part of the 1960's, long before most.

For reference you should get the publication "From the Bosphorus to Samarkand" which was published in 1969. I remember well getting it soon after the Washington DC textile museum exhibition it memorialized and how it peaked my interest in soumak bags.

The examples therein are not superlative, well surely not by today's standards (and especially RK's), but they were for the time groundbreaking.

As for mr frauenknecht? He is confused alot, and all his bluster and bozo-BS does is make that more apparent.

But he has alot of company, rugDUMB is full of half-wits with big mouths and little to back-up their jaw-flapping.

And the *** you see in your post are programed to automatically appear whenever anyone writes turk0tek.com, that's because we are totally disgusted that website continues to exist.

It exemplifies all and more that is wrong with rugDUMB, with the chief turk0tekker, steev price, being such a buffoon he makes a dimwit like frauenknecht appear to be a shining rugstar.

Just for drill, why don't you send RK a pic of the soumak you mention... again we're curious.


Yes, I own Werteim's book.

As regards flatweaves, I like Wertime's very much.

I own also the two booklets by Frauenknecht (personal gifts, I am grateful), Tanavoli's Shahsavan and Persian Flatweaves (with pictures of villages in Central Iran which I have recently visited), Azadi; then Tapper's ethnologic studies, and a very nice compilation of essays by him and Jon Thompson on Persian nomads.

I have checked your exhibition at WAMRI.

It is amazing.


So you have started to collect these bags before Tanavoli's book had been published.

Very interesting. I understand that you do not assign them automatically to the "Shahsavan" (thanks for your analysis of Frauenknecht's essay on his confusion on ****; I didn't understand him either, and I wrote him.

Now I am afraid that we are again in the wrong thread.)

I had purchased last year a (I suppose, very old) khorjin face which had first been "published" as Shahsavan, then sold as Luri (by the same individual; he apparently changed his mind), then was "used" (by me) to start an email exchange with another expert and dealer (mentioned in the previous thread; I am afraid that all of these people are already highly alerted ;-); you might guess who it is) who offered a similar, this time Bakhtiari, khorjin on his page in which I was (and still are) interested, and who, in the email exchange, admitted that all of this confusion might be explained by 18th century Persian history (remember your recent email exchange about the Arabachi? Same prose).

See, it has cost me some money (not too much) but, on the other hand, it amuses me.

Hope I could amuse you too.

Best, Fahad.

Author: Fahad
email: aliqapoo@hotmail.com
Mon, Oct 3rd, 2011 09:10:30 AM

If we might inquire, who was it then?

And perhaps his "strange" involvement was because he owned it and had fronted it to someone to sell for him? And as far as Tanavoli, his soumak bag book and soumak bags goes we have to say we are not at all cognizant of his contributions to their study.

Perhaps next time we are in the vicinity of his book we will check his text out. We have seen the book over the years but must also confess to never have seriously cracked its covers and read the text.

We have looked thru it casually several times and were, honestly, never impressed by the examples he published, finding them late and derivative.

Maybe you do not know but we published part of our pre-1990 collection, and have added others since, in our "Kelim Soumak Carpet and Cloth: classic weaving of the Caucasus" publication in November of 1990.

We also republished the book online in the second Weaving Art Museum exhibition. Here's the URL if you have not seen it before


RugKazbah does not support active links and it's a long story why, so you will have to copy it and paste it into your browser...

Like our position on Anatolian Kelim, we believe all soumak bags can be traced back to about a dozen archetype/prototype examples.

We have not bothered to do the extensive comparison for them we published for Anatolian Kelim but maybe some day we'll get around to it.

Since you mentioned and seem to appreciate what Tanavoli wrote about their relationship to architectural ornamentation you have made us curious. So as soon as we get the chance to eyeball his book we will be sure to do it.

But as far him setting the standard, we will boldly say we'd be totally and absolutely surprised if that were the case.


Simply because, and not to sound outrageously self-confident, our long time interest in soumak bags, and our efforts to own the best and earliest examples, discounts anyone else being there before us, so to speak. And from our casual perusals of his 1985 book we saw nothing even close to archetypal/prototypic status.

Also are you familiar with that creep and duplicitous low-life john weretime, who is considered by the lumpen proletariat in rugDUMB to be the acknowledged soumak-bag "expurt".

Have you seen his book, which is also considered by them to be the "bible"

We have a quite interesting story about him, and our "involvement" with that book, and in fact we have published it here on RugKazabah.com.

Perhaps you or other readers have not seen it so here is the URL.

Check it out...



No, it wasn't him.

Although, in a strange surprise move, he was suddenly involved in the deal.

Very revealing in any case. It's okay with me. I might send you pictures later, if you don't mind (you won't, I suppose).

As regards Tanavoli's voluminous Shahsevan book of 1985, I suppose he had set the standard on soumakh weavings for a long time.

What is special is that he is a true scholar, not a savvy dealer.

As far as I know a run on these bags started soon after its publication.

And, well, lots of fakes were manufactured which are still around.

Since I am interested in Islamic art and architecture I found his comparison of brick patterns on Seljuk buildings with Shahsevan weaving patterns remarkable.

Thanks for enduring me here. Keep up your revealing work.

Best, Fahad

Author: jc
Mon, Oct 3rd, 2011 12:42:03 AM

As RK always intones: Better to have a fragment of a great example than a complete example of a mediocre one.

This, naturally, is an opinion but one that is being more accepted as time goes on.

RK does not want to spend time discussing how our positions on rug collecting have gone from being far outside the mainstream to becoming mainstream.

Let's just leave it there, and realize a cut and shut chuval like the Chodor is far more appreciated, and worth far more, today than it was in December 1990, or in 1976 when we acquired it.

RK can't help but remember how foolish buyers were at the Tent Band sale, regardless of the rumors spread about the pieces.

Anyway, the most unusual drawing of the ertman gol at both sides is something we have no explanation for, but in some strange way as gross and disparate compared to the rest of the chuval they are we sorta like them, and see how the weaver might have wanted to tell some personal, and forever unknown to anyone but her circle, history with them.

We would also readily admit their presence adds nothing for viewers removed, as we are, from the scene.

It is just another example how little we know about the "why" of these weavings.

By all other indications, though, the chuval demonstrates all the qualities inherent in pre-1800 Turkmen work, and we will have to remain in the belief this chuval is among the earliest of the type.

You did not mention the minor border, Fahad, one of the aspects on which we base our assessment.

Look carefully at the picture we posted and you can easily see, providing you have a good monitor, the juxtaposition of the small colored squares.

They are, indeed, a masterful touch; one that is as different as night and day to those few ertman gol on both sides.

And, it is not only what the birds are sitting on but the clarity of their depiction that also tells us this chuval is early.

And who, might we ask, is the "expert" you refer to? munkasci?

If so, please now, this guy is at best a regurgitator of what others have written.

So far RK has not read anything he has written that is original, so calling him an expert might be somewhat an exaggeration, n'est pas?

As for the Islamic roots of Turkmen design iconography?

Well that's a rather large and full of obstacle subject we are not going to try and enter, so you are on your own there.

Same with Tanavoli's book, which by the way we have not seen.

We are, of course, quite interested in Shah Sevan work, as we collect and have for three plus decades soumak khorjin many believe were made by them.

However, and this is a however in capital letters, we do not believe this myth(they were made by the Shah Sevan), especially concerning the proto-and archetypal examples we own.

Like Turkmen weavings, just exactly who made these archetypes is completely unknown, so again we'd rather make continuum to demonstrate which examples are archetypal, and prototypic, rather than shoot arrows in the dark and say this group or that made them.

If you like email us a picture of the chuval you bought( rk at rugkazbah.com) -- we'd enjoy seeing it. We will not post it if you'd rather we didn't, nor will we discuss it here on RugKazbah.com if that's your wish.


"Also please note the chuval has been cut and shut and that is why the first set of ertman gol on the left appears to be truncated making the chuval lopsided and misshapen."

Okay, that explains of course my first impression that something was wrong here.

But half Ertman guls to the right and left are also rather strange.

Anyway, "Therefore perhaps what you say might be different were the chuval in your lap", that's a privilege of a few people, I suppose.

The image on WAMRI, which I just found, is excellent (as is the entire site).

Thank you for that.

The birds sitting on twigs in the main gul, well you won't find them easily in other Chodor chuvals where there are sort of blossoms.

Regarding Islamic and prehistoric influences, I got the impression (from your book) that you don't stress any Islamic iconography.

I had an email exchange with another expert (mentioned above; when I bought a respective chuval, which is similar in design to that in plate 28 in Munkacsi's article of 1994) who categorically denied any Islamic influences, which is, of course, indefensible.

Few if any (?) weavings have survived from pre-Islamic, say Sasanid, times but they seem to be different.

I recently got Tanavoli's book on Shahsevan weavings where he draws a link to geometric (Islamic) designs on buildings.

If you know something about Islamic art and architecture, you'll see the analogues in the design.

Nice chat.

Best, Fahad

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