Turkmen textiles

Produced by a number of different Turkmen tribes that lived in the region between Uzbekistan, Iran, and Afghanistan on the eastern shores of the Caspian Sea, ten nineteenth-century textiles from the Isaacson collection exemplify the traditions of largely pastoral nomadic cultures and their remarkable ability to combine art and function. The weavings comprise elaborate furnishings that accompanied the nomads from place to place, as well as storage bag faces, a door rug, a tent band, and carpets (hālı). Woven by women primarily for domestic use, they could also be sold in the bazaars of Central Asian city centers to contribute to household income.

The main visual components of Turkmen weaving are abstract floral motifs, referred to as gül (flower). Weavers experimented with the size, shape, and colors of the motifs to adapt them to different techniques and accommodate a variety of functions. Over time, particular tribes specialized in singular designs that became emblematic of their tribal identity.

Storage bag face (cuval)
Uzbekistan, Middle Amu Darya, first quarter of the 19th century
Gift of Richard Isaacson
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, S2022.1.2