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Sunday, 3 April 2016

Uighur Carpets from Altishahr












Some of the oldest known knotted carpet fragments have been found in East Turkestan.Although a major stop-over on the Silk Road,it now seems likely that many items were produced locally.The later entry of Alexander into Central Asia,and the art of Gandhara,introduced Greek light into the area.Our knowledge of carpet producing areas derives chiefly from the work of Hans Bidder,whose sources were Chinese carpet dealers.Their veracity cannot be confirmed,but as is customary in the literature on the subject,when geographic terms are understood as branding, sense can be made of the whole.Thus Khotan defines a rustic,Kashgar a floral,and Yarkand an aristocratic style.Until otherwise proven,and as there is little evidence for production elsewhere,we can presume that the majority of carpets were woven in diverse manufacturies and at differing levels of accomplishment in the sprawling Khotan Oasis.

The three groups can also be divided by technical aspects,with the Khotan carpets loosely woven in a woolen Vase-Carpet style with three wefts of white and coloured wool on a cotton warp(although woolen warp is not unknown)a prevalence of silk carpets from the Kashgar area;and a frequently blue-wefted hard-beaten depressed warp structure from Yarkand.The placenames have no basis in fact and simply function as an orientation vis-a-vis structure and style.A large group of carpets attributed to the Gansu corridor in Western China will not be considered here,except as in such instances where an attribution is possible to E.Turkestan.The complex subject of silk rugs from the area may be taken up at a later date. 

The most common designs are the medallion in 1-4 variations;an Indian derived allover pattern called the “Besh-Gul”,or five flower design;compartmentalised medallions,or “Coffered-Guls”;rugs employing an overall implementation of the “Khotan-Rosette,a Göl-like design endemic to the Tarim Basin;and many rugs incorporating the pommegranate symbol.This Photomonograph begins with a selection of bags and mats.

Weavers in Khotan 1908 


Click the following links for the Album photos:-

Bags and Mats

1 and 2 Medallion Rugs

3 Medallion Rugs

Aksu Medallion Rugs

Pommegranate Medallion Rugs

Pommegranate Vase medallion Rugs with Long Stem

V&A 2 Medallion Group

Lattice and Medallion Flower

Besh Gul

Rosettes and Coffered Rosettes

Cloud Diaper

PuLo Design

Pommegranate Design

Unusual Designs

Prayer Rugs,and Others

Yarkand Pommegranate

Yarkand Medallion

Here is a link to a photo album of Kansu carpets.Some of them will undoubtedly reveal themselves as issuing from the Tarim Basin-the transitions are fluid.One technical distinction seems to be that the Kansu carpets are Persian knotted to the right,with two shoots of weft;most Khotan rugs are Persian knotted to the left,with triple weft.

Kansu carpets


A group of carpets with medallion and abstract dragon/sepent design have been thoroughly reviewed in Hali 110.There are two types,rectangular and rounded.

RKO slides


The following links to the Flickr main albums page:

Main Albums Page