This small, wool felt carpet was made in the oasis village of Erbent, Turkmenistan, about three hours north of Ashgabat in the Karakum desert. It was made in the home environment, for family use, in what is called the ala kiiz technique. The wool is separated into loose fibers and extraneous material is removed by beating it with long, supple sticks. The fiber is dyed a variety of colors and the colored fibers are used to lay out a pattern on a reed mat. Plain wool is then distributed evenly over the pattern. The wool is wetted, rolled, and then agitated by kicking the roll back and forth. After some time it is unrolled and, without the reed mat, it is rolled on itself and rolled back and forth on the forearms for the final fulling. The pattern incorporates ram’s horn designs, the most traditional of felt carpet motifs, as horns are frequently found hanging over the entrance of dwellings as a protective symbol. The carpet also features an off-white ground and three octagonal shapes and horn motif in purple, blue, green, and orange.
The rug is a gift from one of the essayists featured in the catalog for the museum’s upcoming felt exhibition, who has traveled in Central Asia to document traditional felt-making as it is still practiced by artisans today. Both historic and contemporary felts are among our top collection priorities.
This object was
It is credited
Gift of Christine Martens.
Its dimensions are
H x W: 251.5 x 144.8 cm (8 ft. 3 in. x 57 in.)
Cite this object as
Carpet (Turkmenistan); wool; H x W: 251.5 x 144.8 cm (8 ft. 3 in. x 57 in.); Gift of Christine Martens; 2008-28-1