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Foreword

The carpets of Central Asia are a magnificent monument of folk art and the richest source for the study of material culture. Even at a cursory glance, acquaintance with the carpet products of the peoples of Central Asia, it is clear that this is an art with a long history.
The artistic traditions of the folk carpet craft are unusually high. Artistic types of Central Asian carpets are the result of labor and creative searches of many generations. The high quality of carpets is due to the perfection of subtle technical and artistic techniques. The combination of virtuoso technique and technology proven by centuries of folk experience with high artistic forms is a distinctive feature of carpet weaving.
The high degree of development of carpet weaving among pastoral peoples was determined by the great role of carpet products in everyday life. They replaced furniture in everyday life, all types of containers, were used to fasten the wooden parts of the yurt, to gird the lattice frame to strengthen and decorate it. From the rays of the scorching sun, cold and dust, the entrance to the yurt was hung from the outside with a carpet curtain, and the threshold was covered with a small narrow rug. The earthen floor of the yurt was covered with soft and warm felts, rugs and carpets. Utensils, all household belongings were stored in specially prepared carpet duffel bags hung on the lattice bindings of a yurt or laid in rows on chests. They used carpet fabrics for sweeping bags and blankets. For all the pastoralists of Central Asia, carpets were part of the girl’s dowry.
According to custom, the bride had to bring to her dowry a full set of carpets used in everyday yurt life. Since carpet weaving has always been in the hands of women and was closely associated with a narrow domestic life, the variety of carpet products reflected the identity of the aeoples.
All the peoples of Central Asia had widespread palat weaving, pile carpet weaving was widespread mainly among the Turkmens living in the Turkestan region, as well as the Bukhara and Khiva khanates. Among other peoples of Central Asia, pile weaving was also developed among the Uighurs living in the eastern part of Turkestan.
The main raw material for carpet weaving was sheep’s wool. Other types of wool (goat and camel), as well as cotton yarn and silk were used in very small quantities and more as an auxiliary material, and sometimes as ducks. When choosing wool for the production of carpet, the craftswomen evaluated its strength, length, softness, color and luster. Carpet weavers preferred light, predominantly white wool, as it dyed better in bright colors. An important quality of wool is gloss. In some regions of Central Asia, weavers, mainly Turkmen, were used in carpet weaving and silk, because of its valuable decorative property – pure and strong shine. Small details of the border patterns of the main carpet ornament in the best carpet products of the Turkmens were made with silk. According to the testimony of Turkmen craftswomen, only spring hair was used for carpet weaving, as it is the longest, most delicate and shiny. Long before shearing, the sheep were taken, separated from the flock and kept and fed separately, since the quality of the wool largely depends on the nutrition of the sheep.
The colors in the ancient carpets of Central Asia were distinguished by their extraordinary durability. This is evidenced by those old small products and carpet fragments that are still often found in all regions of Central Asia. Often a piece of carpet, worn and worn, glistens and shimmers in bright colors. The dyes were of plant origin of local nature, with the exception of indigo, which gives a blue dye, and cochineal, imported from Persia and India.
Where do these complex connections come from, which, overcoming the barrier between the author and his creation, turns the carpet into a truly exceptional work of human creativity, having both artistic and emotional, both religious and practical meaning? This was influenced by two main factors: the nomadic way of life of many Asian peoples, among whom carpet weaving most likely arose, as well as the worldview (including religious). The analysis and close study of the carpet art of the peoples of Central Asia is of great interest and can provide new auxiliary material for the study of their cultural ties and ethnogenesis.
The pile knots used in the carpet weaving of Central Asia are of two types – double – (finishing) and one and a half – (yarachitme). The most common was the one and a half knot, it was used by most Turkmen carpet makers, and the double knot was used by Uzbek carpet makers when knitting long-pile carpets julhirs. In all regions of Central Asia, the carpet was considered not only as a decoration of the home, but also as a repository of cultural information. The images woven on it could store information about the history of the nationality, whose representatives weaved this carpet.

History of carpet weaving of the peoples of Central Asia

The time of the emergence of carpet weaving among the peoples of Central Asia has not been precisely established. When studying the issue, two types of sources can be used – data from archaeological research and historical literature. During archaeological excavations in Central Asia (Khorezm) and neighboring eastern and northeastern regions (Altai and Mongolia), samples of pile carpets were found in the monuments of the first centuries before and after the new era. By the type of patterns, the carpets found in the Pazyryk and Noinuli burial mounds are identified as products of Near Eastern origin, and those found in Khorezm as focal. These findings suggest that pile carpet weaving was known to the ancient cattle-breeding population of Altai and Central Asia – Scythian-Sarmatian tribes and peoples who spoke different languages. Let’s turn to the second type of sources. The most ancient periods of the history of Central Asia are illuminated by Greek, Roman and Chinese historical literature; events from the 10th century – Arab and Persian. Ancient written sources contain information about carpet weaving among the ancient peoples of Central Asia. In the writings of Pliny (7th century AD). In Chinese literature, in addition to general instructions on the import of carpets to China in the 5th-yth centuries, n. e., from Central and Central Asia (Kashgar, Khotan, Yarkand, Kabul). In the history of the Tang dynasty (VII century) there is information directly related to the regions of Central Asia: “In the possessions of Bo-tsy-sy, the inhabitants weave silk and woolen fabrics and multi-colored carpets.”
The development of carpet weaving among the peoples of Central Asia, Khorasan and the North of Afghanistan is also spoken of in the Arab-Persian literature of the 7th – 11th centuries. (Tabari, Narshahi, Makdisi in the works of Khudud al-alam).
The authors cite data on the export of carpet fabrics for flooring from Bukhara, prayer rugs from Tash and various carpets from Khorezm. There are no direct indications in the sources of the spread of carpet weaving among the ancient Turkic population, who actively inhabited certain regions of Central Asia already in the early Middle Ages, but there is evidence of the use of carpets in their everyday life. On the basis of historical sources describing the movement of goods to the west, we can conclude that in the XI-XII centuries, carpet weaving was highly developed among the local population. With regard to carpet weaving, this is confirmed by the reports of the Arab geographer Ibn Said (XIII century) on the production of carpets by the Asian Minor Turkmen. The diary of Marco Polo (XIII century) mentions the carpet products of the Turkmen; “Turkmens are engaged in cattle breeding and make here, you know, the thinnest and most beautiful carpets.” In the eastern historical sources of the XIV – XVIII centuries, contains information about the existence of pile carpets in the houses of historical figures of Central Asia. There are numerous references to carpets that adorned Timur’s palaces (from Clavijo’s diary).

Nomad's house "Urta-House"

In the traditions of some of the peoples of Central Asia, preserving to this day a nomadic way of life, carpets have always played an important role in everyday life. Since ancient times, nomadic tribes have used hand-weaving to make panels or tents. All the necessary household items were made in the same way: bags for storing home scrub and food, mats, blankets, saddles, and so on. Due to the various possibilities of its use and great durability, the carpet was of great importance in everyday life and became an expression of the culture of the people who created it. On the surface of the carpets, nomads reflected the symbols of their own tribe and individual events of their history. The creation of carpets also gave rise to a creative impulse, allowing people to express admiration for the lush flowering of plants, admiration for the wealth and abundance of nature with the help of a variety of bright colors.

Prayer rugs: “Treasures of the Islamic Cultures of Central Asia”

Islam and the development of carpet weaving.
Nomazlyk – the rug fully met the requirements of the Koranic worshipers regarding the daily repeated prayer, during which they had to stretch out (without touching the “not clean” land) with their face towards Mecca, while being in a secluded place. The requirement of the ritual was strictly observed and the carpet began to be perceived by Muslims as an object that, during sacred prayer, provides and protects a “clean” space. With the spread of Islam, the carpet was decorated with patterns containing symbols of the Muslim faith. It is enough to look at the famous prayer rugs with the image of the mihrab – a niche in the wall of a Muslim mosque, always facing towards Mecca. The influence of Islam, which firmly followed the iconoclastic tradition (the prohibition to depict the images of God and other revered sacred images), became decisive in defining the ornamental and decorative themes of Islamic art. Muslim ornament is always more abstract than concrete, aimed at conveying general symbols, and not a specific image, drawings contain a hidden meaning to be deciphered. Deciphered, this symbolism allows one to comprehend many aspects of the spiritual life, history and culture of the peoples of the Muslim East.
In Islam, the image of Paradise is presented in detail, and even the term itself, which in the Qur’an designates paradise – “Al-Jannat”, is best translated as “the most beautiful of gardens”. It has shady trees strewn with fruits, and among them is a pomegranate. In the Arab world, the fruit of the pomegranate is called “rumman”. Pomegranate fruits with many seeds, color similar to precious stones -rubies, like a symbol of abundance, peace of mind and happiness of approaching the Creator !!!

Western Turkestan

This is a vast geographic area located in the very center of Central Asia between the Caspian Sea, the Karakum and Kyzylkum deserts and the Altai mountain ranges. In the last century, this territory did not have clear political boundaries; numerous independent Turkic tribes roamed here. In the history of the oriental carpet, the lands of Western Turkestan played a huge role. It was here that many centuries ago they first began to make hand-made carpets for the needs of the daily life of nomads. The main tribal formations are the Oguz tribes-Turkmens; salors, saryks, teke, yomuds, chodors, ersari, beshirs, kizyl-ayaki and hub-bashi. All these tribes were engaged in carpet weaving.

Central Turkestan.

Uzbeks are one of the main sedentary and city-forming peoples inhabiting the regions of central Turkestan and northern Afghanistan.

Baluchistan.

Baluchis are one of the nomadic tribes living in the north of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In the 19th century, the Persian king Nadir forced the Baloch tribe to migrate north in order to contain the expansion of the Turkmen and Uzbeks. As a result, in the carpets of the Baloch tribes, a return to the original traditions characteristic of all peoples of Turkestan is clearly traced. Baluchis engaged in carpet weaving are divided into 10 nomadic tribes, and the work of different tribes differs primarily in the motives used.
Architectural symbols and floral motives.

Sacred meanings of Islamic ornament.

Scientists-mathematicians noticed that “girih” ornaments often overlap with mathematical patterns, and some even anticipate new geometric shapes with images. The main idea of uslMn art is the one-man rule of God and his omnipresence. Considering that God in Islam could not be portrayed in any way, his role and place in the universe and Islamic ornament was represented in the image of a point or void that did not carry any information.
Islimi – emphasizes accessibility, proximity, softness and interweaving of the surrounding world.
Girikh is a complex geometric ornament, most often used in the decoration of the facades of mosques and books. This ornament also emphasizes the greatness and power of unattainable heights, isolation from everything earthly.

Epilogue.

As a result of our research with you, we began to understand that all Islamic ornaments are not monotonous and contain national flavor in their images. It also becomes obvious that the ornament has become a kind of formula with many known and unknown quantities, full of deep meaning.
The carpet ornament is not only a simple harmony of the world of feelings and the world of things, it is also a kind of original attitude towards the future.
The carpet is a symbol, a harbinger of Paradise, a hope that does not leave even the most lost soul!!!
In Islam, ornament has become a way of comprehending the world in symbolic form. Thus, the ornaments became a kind of codes of being and formed a special outlook on the world.

Eastern Turkestan.

Since 1757, the territory of East Turkestan passed to China, now the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is located there. The complex historical past of this area is due to the fact that a variety of cultures intersected here. Once upon a time the Great Silk Road passed here, which was not only the main trade route, but also a means of exchange of cultural and religious values etwben the East and the West. From the beginning of the first millennium, Buddhism spread here, later, in the 9th century, there was an influence from the Arabs and Turks, who were interested in controlling the oases where their trade caravans stopped. In 1211, East Turkestan was conquered by the Mongols under the leadership of Genghis Khan. Since that time, the era of carpet weaving began, which lasted until the 16th century. The conquerors gave impetus to the development of the art of carpet weaving, which existed before. Workshops for the production of carpets were established in the oases of Kashgar, Yarkand and Khotan. When the area passed to China, the local tradition was preserved. The most ancient carpets that have survived to this day are called Samarkand and date back to the 18th century.
Samarkand. The city was a storage place for carpets made in the territory from Khotan to Kashgar. In East Turkestan, carpet weaving was carried out mainly by the Uighurs, as well as the Dungans, Kirghiz, Tatar-Manchus and Kalmyks. Despite the fact that the carpets of this area are very early, they came to the international market in large quantities only at the beginning of the 19th century, and all, moreover, under the name “Samarkand” and “Margekhanov”, according to the places of storage and the names of trade centers of those times. A typical feature of carpets from this region is their strict geometric ornamentation, as well as a fine glossy wool, often mixed with silk.

Khotan Oasis.

The city of Khotan, located in the oasis of the same name in the territory of East Turkestan, has always been a thriving center due to its geographical location. The Great Silk Road passed here; many caravans stopped at Khotan on their way from China to India. Since ancient times, carpet weaving has been practiced in this area and covered all small villages.
The iconography of Khotan’s carpets reflects the complex centuries-old history of the city. Here you can find the influence not only of the influence of the Kashgar diamond-shaped ornament or the Turkmen “gol” motif with a frequent diagonal pattern, but also symbolic Buddhist images, as well as symbols that came from China. From Tibet, a composition with three, two or one medallions placed one above the other on a monochrome field. There are often decorative motifs from India, as well as pomegranate plots. The decor of the border is very diverse: it is a modification of a plant motif, or a motif with a shamrock, which possibly derives from a theme typical of Central Asia called a “necklace of clouds”.
In iconography, the strongest was the Chinese influence, noticeable in many symbols of Buddhist origin. Also, a common iconographic scheme is a composition with three medallions, symbolically conveying a seated Buddha with two disciples, or a large medallion in the center of a carpet with ornaments of rotation in a circle and swastikas in a frame, which was iconographically deciphered as “the wheel of Samsara”.

Oases Kashgar and Yarkand.

Due to the favorable geographical location of these regions, along which the caravan routes from Turkestan to India went, carpet weaving flourished there.
The decorative motifs are similar to those characteristic of Khotan, although in these areas, of course, the pomegranate pattern is much more common.
A composition with vases and plants is also often found, and along the frame there is an ornament with a swastika or labyrinths.
A characteristic difference from the Yarkand motifs is the Kashgar geometric, diamond-shaped ornament with plant and floral motifs.
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