Home > Turkmen Rugs >dated engsi, lot 1945 Netherhampton auction
Sun, Oct 21st, 2012 10:15:16 AM
Topic: dated engsi, lot 1945 Netherhampton auction

Lot 1945, Netherhampton Salesroom, Salisbury, UK

This surely not very interesting engsi from any standpoint, other than its condition which looks perfect, is illustrated here because of the inscribed “date” it carries.

Now then, dated Turkmen rugs are virtually non-existent and therefore this engsi deserves to be discussed.

However, the fact a date does exist on it does not necessarily mean a hole hill of beans.

That date 133?_? appears twice, once on the left on the upper horizontal bars, or “borders”, which separates the four boxes in the field, and a second time in the right corner of the lower bar which serves the same function.

Inscribed date that the auctioneers have read as 1348(AH) or 1929 in our calendar.

Before we discuss the rug let’s spend a few words on the date itself.

While the first two numbers are easily seen as 1 and 3, the following two are, at least to RK, surely not as evident. In fact, the third has little resemblance to a 4 and the fourth appears to us to be nonexistent.

Disregarding this obvious impediment to securely establishing just exactly what date the inscription is trying to convey one is left with the first two numerals 1 and 3.

So at the earliest possible interpretation, 1300(AH), one could say this date equals 1911 and at the latest, 1399(AH), 1978.

Looking at the engsi one would get the impression the 1911 date, or 1920 as the Netherhampton auction catalogue has stated, is far more plausible than say a 1940/50/60/ or 70 guesstimate.

But even if this engsi was made in 1911 it surely “looks” earlier, as no synthetic dyes “appear” to have been used and the iconography, while definitely not appearing early, is surely in keeping with “later’ 19th century styles

For us this engsi is then both problematic and confusing. For if the date is real and correct it means at least somewhere in south-west Turkmenistan someone was, in 1911 or thereabouts, producing weavings that have many, if not all, the appearances of 19th production.

Granted, a pre-1920 date is before the first and initial Russian 5 year-plan that included carpet production in its dictates. And in certain quarters of Turkmenistan one could easily state conditions were basically unchanged from the later decades of the 19th century.

And, of course, this engsi might be a one off dinosaur that statistically does not throw a monkey-wrench into the now fairly established ideas of dating Turkmen weavings.

Studying the iconography reveals a number of details of later Turkmen work, of which the over-sized elements in the four quadrant field, the appearance of elem at top and bottom, the incomplete reproduction of the not often seen icon in the vertical bars separating those four quadrant, the disregard for smooth transitions at corners of the main white ground border, the lack of cohesion in the elements seen in the elem and the complete lack of understanding of how those elements should be depicted – one of which is the traditional branch of a tree and the other what often has been called a crown.

Plus the flaccid and cookie-cutter style of articulation bodes poorly for any belief the weaver of this engsi had any real connection to Turkmen cultural mores and weaving tradition.

This engsi really needs to be seen to be accurately appreciated and since RK does not plan a trip to Salisbury in the coming days we would appreciate input from any reader who will be attending the preview.

So until more hands-on information is available we will, for now, leave this “interesting” tidbit of Turkmen weaving with a ‘nuff said’.

Author: Clive Rogers
Sun, Oct 21st, 2012 10:15:16 AM

I viewed the piece and can assure that the date 1911 is consistent with an early 20th cent Yomut rug. So no great mystery really

Author: jc
Tue, Oct 9th, 2012 07:18:55 AM

The engsi, lot 1945, sold for 550 pounds plus commission.

This is a good buy for someone who is collecting later examples of Turkmen (style) weaving.

We are unsure if this engsi was actually made by a Turkmen weaver or someone from another area 'reproducing' a Turkmen rug.

Regardless, it is an 'interesting' addition to the lexicon of Turkmen (style) carpet.

Author: jc
Mon, Oct 8th, 2012 01:25:43 AM

For anyone interested here is a brief technical analysis:

symmetric knots
lack of any depression in warp placement
brown wool weft
ivory,grey and brown mixed warp

These details point to this engsi being a Yomut product and unfortunately provide no other information to provenance this weaving.

Author: Fahad
email: aliqapoo@hotmail.com
Mon, Oct 1st, 2012 09:09:10 AM

Ciao Fahad:

Yes, we agree completely and put little credence in any non-classical rug date, particularly on a Turkmen weaving.

It is interesting, though, to see a somewhat traditional Turkmen weaving with inscripted dates.

We would be surprised if this engsi was made outside some commercial atelier aimed at 'reproducing' Turkmen weavings.

When we cut and pasted the picture our web guy was not very careful and blacked-out most of the warp/weft webbing at the top and bottom, which is all there.

Some of it does remain at the top on the left side; and while the presence of such a webbing at both ends does not necessarily in and of itself denote "workshop" production, we have come to view it a 'sign'.

Very few older than mid-19th century engsi have any remaining warp finish, but when it does appear it is usually undecorated, no nice pretty little two-color embroidered stripe, and sewn back -- not left visible.

We do not know how old this engsi is but we sincerely doubt the date is anything to value past a "Well maybe it could be right".

Thanks for your reply.


1348 AH: 1929 CE. See in particular the Farsi version of "four" here http://persian.nmelrc.org/persianword/numbers.htm

So, this is about a date in a Turkmen textile from the 20th century, usually not regarded as "collectible" (but what is collectible?).

I've seen dated textiles from the 2oth and 19th centuries, but how reliable are these dates?

Weavers were mainly illiterate. And did probably not even know their own birth day.

Why should they mention a date for an every-day textile if not for commerce?

So, dates in textiles are hardly evidence for authenticity.

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