Monday, June 19, 2006

Mid-Amu Darya/Ersari/Beshir and why we know nothing!

Interestingly, when I posted this Beshir rug from my post below on Turkotek, I was sent by one of the moderators to an incredibly confusing discussion about what constitutes Ersari and Beshir rugs. The answer, as I understand it, is that we have no idea. The Beshir, for example, may not be a tribe at all. As a result, one contributor to the discussion even suggests that Beshir rugs should merely be called OMAD (Other Middle Amu Darya) rugs. Alas, we return to my post earlier about the confusion of Central Asian rugs and the mystery of all those rugs which "experts" put into the Middle Amu Daya category. As one deconstructs these issues further, we find that perhaps Central Asian rugs plainly defy categorization.... At the same time, however, it is the desire to categorize them that makes them so interesting.

44 Comments:

At 10:00 AM, Blogger Barry said...

Hello Dr. Roberts,
I am not an expert on Central Asian Carpets but I did write the entry for Central Asian Carpets in the Encyclopedia of Modern Asia, Scribners, 2002.

I believe that tribal and village weaving is really a form of non-verbal language. By this I mean that a Tekke rug is a rug woven by a woman who speaks Teke. Teke is a dialect of Turkmen (see http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=tuk). If we can determine the woman’s language from what she wove then there must be some element of language in the rug. I do not mean words or secret messages but rather a non-verbal element. It is almost as if the rug was the word and the weave structure and design are metadata. Any attempt to ignore language in the attribution of rugs is inherently problematic.

So where does that put your Ersari rugs. The Ersari were the first Turkmen Tribe to convert to Islam and the ones who converted were the Seljuk. Those Ersari we know as Seljuk and from the Seljuk we gain the languages Northern Azeri, Southern Azeri, Modern Turkish and many others. Most of the rugs of the Caucasus and Turkey as well as many from Iran come from that group. Some Ersari stayed and became a federated tribe in the Salor Confederation in Turkmenistan and the Mangyshlak Peninsula of western Kazakhstan. When the Salor confederation broke up the Ersari moved to the Middle Amu Darya region. This is crucial because they shifted allegiances from the Khans of Khiva to the Emir of Bukhara. Parts of other tribes moved with them. For instance the bulk of the Chodor stayed under Khiva but some moved to the Charjui area on the Amu Darya where they fell under the Ersari Tribe. By this I mean to exert control and raise taxes the Emir of Bukhara assigned a governor to Charjui. This governor dealt with the Turkmen of the region through the tribal leaders of the Ersari who controlled the small factions of other tribes in their region. In modern terms the Turkmen who moved from Turkmenistan to Uzbekistan developed their rugs differently. Their life was more settled they were mostly farmers and since they were settled they could weave larger rugs than their neighbors to the west. They were also under different market forces. Beshir referes to the settled Ersari of Bukhara Uzbekistan.

This was the way it was until the Communists gained power after WWI when many of those Turkmen fled to Afghanistan. Now to modern day rugs the rugs of the Turkmen of Turkmenistan brought better prices this includes Salor, Tekke, Sarik, Yomud, Chodor, and Goklen. The Ersari and the minor tribes such as the Chub Bash (Mid Amu Darya Chodor) did not fare as well in the market. After a while someone came up with the MAD theory and suddenly Uzbek Turkmen rugs got sexy and prices moved. I hope this is some help. You can always reach me at JBOC (at) SpongoBongo (dot) com if you have additional questions.
Best wishes,
Barry O’Connell

 
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