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(2) Dividing the Chodor

The next stage of lattice development can be seen on chuvals (2) and (3), where 'box' devices are starting to develop.

The lattice on (3) is a particularly interesting variation, though am not sure what the weaver was trying to achieve.In the last stage of lattice development (8), the box devices have become 'box flowers', while the lattice itself no longer has an 'electric' feel and has almost become a trellis supporting the flowers.

What might be a precursor to the lattice appears on an early main carpet fragment (1) published by Peter Hoffmeister.2 Here the incipient lattice consists of a line of small diamonds and squares just within the gül, following its basic outline. It is as if the lattice is just starting to emerge from the gül.

A related chuval belonging to George Gilmore appeared in The 1994 HALI Annual.3 In this, the lattice, now outside the gül, retains the same basic outline as the güls in the Hoffmeister fragment, even though the shape of the güls themselves is different.

Another item of interest concerns the so-called 'minor' güls. In all descriptions of Chodor design that I have read, the blue güls are invariably described as 'minor' and the red and white ones as 'major'. I think this assumption should be rever-sed. If anything, it seems that the blue güls, being more informative and specific, define the identity of the weavings. In the divisions I have established, the blue güls are the main identifiers.


Plate 2. Chodor Group I chuval, Amu Darya Delta (?), ca. 1780 (?). 1.12 x 0.91m (3' 8" x 3' 0"). Ground colour and con-struction link this ‘blue güls with bars’ chuval with (3), (4) and (5). It has an early design without Yomut influence, and an old form of the lattice. All illustrations Nancy Jeffries & Kurt Munkacsi Collection, New York, unless otherwise credited.

Below - Detail of Plate 2

Pieces started to fit very nicely within the tentative groups. I was discovering. Colours, relative amounts of cotton in the foundation and design influences all seemed to make sense, but I was very surprised when I attempted to fit pieces and groups within the historical chronology established by William Wood. The usual time scale for these weavings was expanded by his account by 75 to a hundred years, and pieces that I would normally have dated to the first quarter of the 19th century seemed to fall into the first half of the 18th century. For the sake of argument I am going to use these earlier dates for the pieces in this article. We will see if they hold up as time goes on.

CHODOR ERTMEN-GÜL WEAVINGS

I have been able to fit the Chodor Ertmen-gül rugs and bags into four main groups and two subgroups. Further divisions

 

will doubtless come to light. One thing is certain with tribal weavings – just when you think you have it all figured out, something happens to surprise you.

My groups and subgroups are as follows:

I.             Blue Güls With Bars – type piece (2),                                                 ‘pinwheel’ subgroup – type piece (10);

II.            Blue Güls With Stars – type piece (11),                                                 subgroup – type piece (C);5

III.            Missing Blue Güls – type piece (18);

IV.            Tall Blue Güls – type piece (22).6


Plate 3. Chodor Group I chuval, Amu Darya Delta (?), ca. 1780 (?). 1.40 x 0.79m (4' 7" x 2' 7"). Close to (2) in palette, design and structure, this chuval has an old form of the zig-zag lattice and great scale of drawing. It may even date from before the Chodor joined the Yomut uprising against the Uzbeks in the 1760s.

Below - Detail of Plate 3

GROUP I: BLUE GÜLS WITH BARS

This is the largest of the groups and shows the highest incidence of design and structural variation (see Appendix). These pieces must have been made by the main body of the Chodor tribe. Several different palettes are used, with varying amounts of cotton in the foundation (from all-wool to all-cotton wefts). Some have elems and borders with Yomut designs.

I believe the amount of cotton used in a piece can indicate its place of origin. Khorezm in the lower Amu Darya (between Khiva and the Aral Sea) is an oasis region and to this day cotton growing is very important there. It may therefore be argued that

 

the less cotton we find, the further away we are from Khorezm. I think these varying features can be used to locate these pieces in place and time.

There are two chuvals that I believe are from the oldest stratum of this division, (2) and (3). Their lattices are of the older form and their designs do not show any Yomut influence. They are similar in colours and structure, though while (3) has only cotton warps, (2) has a mixture of cotton and wool. Because of the large amount of cotton, brownish-purple ground colour and pure Chodor design, I think these pieces may date back to the first half of the 18th century, when the tribe first arrived in Khorezm from the Mangyshlak Peninsula (Map B).


Plate 4. Chodor Group I chuval, Amu Darya Delta (?), ca. 1800 (?). 1.14 x 0.76m (3' 9" x 2' 6"). The form of the lattice suggests that this chuval, with its Yomut-type elem, is somewhat older than (5).

Two other pieces that seem to belong in this group are (4) and (5). In palette and structure they are virtually identical to the previous two bags, but we also begin to see Yomut influences in the design, especially in the elems. While (4) appears to be the older of the two, based on its lattice, the elem of (5) has an old Yomut design. These two bags may therefore be dated after about 1760-1770, as might another piece in my

collection (28). This is the period when the Chodor joined the Yomut in alliance against the Uzbek Muhammad Amin Inaq. By 1768 they had been defeated and forced from Khorezm back to Mangyshlak (Map H).

 

There is also a subgroup associated with Group I, the ‘pinwheel’ group, which includes (10) as well as a chuval belonging to Charles Grant Ellis exhibited in Washington DC in 1980,7 and a torba in the Straka Collection.8 The shape of the blue gül indicates these pieces are related to each other. The palette, use of cotton and Yomut-type elem might link the Ellis piece with those mentioned above. The Straka piece is perhaps later. While (10) is very similar to the Ellis piece in design, it has a much more purple ground. Because of the palette and absence of cotton from the foundation, I think it was made after the second Chodor return from Mangyshlak, in about 1835, probably in the Porsu area (Map G). Chuval (8), while not in this subgroup, is probably contemporaneous with (10), as its palette is similar and it too lacks cotton in its foundation.


Plate 5. Chodor Group I chuval, Amu Darya Delta (?), ca. 1810 (?). 1.17 x 0.84 (3' 10" x 2' 9"). Both palette and structure link this slightly later bag, which combines Yomut influence in its elem and main border with an early lattice form, to (2), (3) and (4).


Below - Detail Plate 5

A chuval with a similar, if slightly darker, palette (6) also lacks cotton and is much more finely knotted. This might be

an example of the tribe’s second Mangyshlak period, from 1811-1835 (Map F). Both (7) and (25) might be examples from the later Porsu period, 1860 to the present (Map H). These have fully developed lattices, use cotton in the found-ation, have a deep purple ground colour and aflat yellow absent from older pieces.

Group I attributes include:

• The blue güls contain a vertical pole in the centre with kochaks at both top and bottom and an ashik-type device through the centre.

• There is either a red or white gül in the centre of the field.

• The red and white güls contain vertical poles with opposing hooked devices top and bottom, and are trisected by three diamonds, dividing the pole into four equal segments.

 

• The red and white güls never contain ‘animal’ or ‘bird’ heads.

• Four complete blue güls surround the central red or white gül.

• The blue güls usually have two shades of blue or blue-green, diagonally opposed.

• The gül shapes are serrated and tend to be elongated, the blue güls being more elongated than the red or white ones.

• Rounded ‘S’ forms are often used in the minor borders.

• This group seems to have the most Yomut-influenced design elements.

• This group has the greatest use of cotton in the wefts.

plate 6


Plate 6. (Chodor Group I chuval, Mangyshlak Peninsula (?), ca. 1830 (?). 1.09 x 0.79m (3' 7" x 2' 7"). A Yomut elem design and the absence of cotton in the foundation indicate this chuval was probably made after the Chodor and Yomut joined forces against the Uzbeks, and were driven from Khorezm back to Mangyshlak. It shows the final stage of lattice development.

Below - Detail of Plate 6

GROUP II: BLUE GÜLS WITH STARS

This is a very small group in which I am able to place only five chuvals – (11), (12), (14), (29) and one belonging to Dr Erich Menzel9 – as well as several torbas, including (26), and a few main carpets. They are all so distinctive that I am sure they form a separate group.

One of these chuvals (12) is very old. The lattice is of the old form. Even by traditional standards it would probably be dated to thefirst quarter of the 19th century. By the expanded scale I am using it probably originates from when the Chodor first arrived in the Khorezm region on the lower Amu Darya, 1720-1760 (Map B).

The next two pieces, (11) and (29), are very similar to each other and must be from the same place and period, although they are later than (12). They have cotton in the wefts, indicating that they are probably still from Khorezm.

 

The torba (26) may be contemporaneous. All have an early form of lattice. I believe these three pieces probably date from around 1770, just before the first return to Mangyshlak (Map D). The last two chuvals in this group are later. Chuval (14) has a later stage of lattice and a typical Yomut elem design, but still uses cotton in the foundation. The Menzel chuval lacks any lattice at all, suggesting to me a later date. These latter two pieces could be from as late as 1880.

There are several main carpets in this group. One in particular, exhibited in Hamburg in June 1993,10 has coloured wefts similar to chuvals (11) and (29). I should also mention a torba, shown in the same exhibition, with coloured wefts but lacking cotton in the foundation,11 indicating it was made away from Khorezm, perhaps during the second return to Mangyshlak.


Plate 7. Chodor Group I chuval, Porsu region (?),ca. 1860 (?). 1.09 x 0.89m (3' 7" x 2' 11"). I think of this and (25) as coming from the same area, at the start of the tribe’s decline. This chuval nevertheless has a beautifully drawn version of a classic Chodor design.

Below - Detail of Plate 7

Two additional torbas, (13) and (15), are either part of,or related to, this group, but seem to be later than the pieces described above. They lack the lattice and (15) has dyrnak güls in place of blue güls. A piece illustrated by Werner Loges may also be a very late example of this type.12

There also appears to be a Group II subgroup, in which the stars at the centre of the blue güls have diamond devices above and below (also found in the blue güls of Group IV pieces). These weavings also tend to use a green for the ground of some of the ‘blue’ güls. I know of four chuvals – (17), one published by Raymond Benardout,13 one advertised by Jay Jones,14 and one in a private collection – as well as one torba fragment (16).

Group II attributes include:

• Blue güls with eight-pointed star centres, the stars containing a rectangle with a diamond centre.

 

• The main field design on the chuvals always has three complete blue güls, with the central blue gül surrounded by red and white güls.

• Along with the standard Chodor natural wool and white cotton wefts, many pieces also have some coloured wefts.

• The palette is consistent, especially the brown-purple ground colour.

• The red and white güls always contain well articulated ‘bird’ or ‘animal’ heads with what appears to be a ‘tail’.

• When used, the ‘S’ minor border is of the squared ‘S’ type.

• The main chuval border is typically (four out of five) of the ‘X’ and diamond type.

• The blue güls are more elongated horizontally than those in Group I.

• The warps are on one level, without depression.


Plate 8 Chodor Group I chuval, Mangyshlak Peninsula (?), ca. 1830-1840 (?). 0.91 x 0.71m (3' 0" x 2' 4"). Cotton is absent from the foundation of this piece, which also shows the last stage of lattice development, perhaps indicating that it was woven when the Chodor were in Mangyshlak rather than in Khorezm.

 

 


Plate 9 Chodor Group I torba, Khiva region (?), ca. 1835 (?). 1.17 x 0.43m (3' 10" x 1' 5"). Chuvals of this group greatly outnumber torbas. Perhaps made during the second return to Khorezm, this torba has an inter-mediate lattice and uses a lovely mid blue colour.

The ground colour is much browner than that found among the rest of the Chodor. Most of what we call ‘rose’ palette pieces belong to this group. The design appears to be very stable over time, indicating a long undisturbed presence in one location. There is hardly any Yomut influence – only two of the published main carpets show any Yomut design features.15 The shape of the güls on these carpets is not consistent with the rest of this group as they lack the ‘stepped’ outline.

 

I have already mentioned two very old pieces in this group in relation to lattice development (1). They could even be ‘precursors’, perhaps woven in Khorezm before the Chodor were forced out in 1740. Next comes a cluster of three main carpets and one small rug, which link the ‘precursors’ with the rest of the group. Their main feature is the interior design of the güls, which have the ‘animal’ headed box devices of later pieces but lack the vertically stacked ashiks. I believe the ‘animal’ heads in these güls derive from a different iconographic source, and are not a degenerate version of those seen in Groups II and IV.


Plate 10. Chodor Group I chuval, ‘pinwheel’ subgroup, Khorezm (?), ca. 1835 (?). 1.19 x 0.76m (3' 11" x 2' 6"). This chuval may have been made when the Chodor returned from Man-gy-shlak for the last time. The main border shows obvious Yomut influence.

Below - Detail of Plate 10

This intermediate cluster comprises a small rug in the Straka Collection,16 which does not have any cotton and with güls arranged vertically rather than diagonally; a main carpet offered by Lefevre & Partners in London in 1976, which has all-cotton wefts and a few knots of silk in the pile;17 a main carpet in The Textile Museum, Washington DC (exhibited in 1980), with the güls arranged vertically and part-cotton wefts;18 and a main carpet with a very odd arrangement of güls (21), exhibited by Eberhart Herrmann in 1980.19

This cluster is not as old as the two pieces discussed earlier. I would date them to about 1800 – even though they have cotton in the foundation, I think they were woven in Charjui. They all

 

have the same fairly old version of the lattice and a typical Chodor use of an ashik-based design in the elems. As far as one can judge from published photographs, they also all have the ‘rose’ type palette. One has a few knots of silk in the pile, which also turns up in a chuval from this group (19).

This brings us to the remainder of Group III. The oldest chuval from this section, once with Simon Crosby,20 lacks cotton in its foundation, has the typical güls and palette of this group, no Yomut design influence and an old form of lattice. Chuval (18) is particularly interesting, for while güls, elem and structure are typical, its palette is closer to traditional Chodor colours and the main border shows Yomut influence, perhaps the consequence of intermarriage.


Plate 11. Chodor Group II chuval, lower Amu Darya region (?), ca. 1770 (?). 1.17 x 0.71m (3' 10" x 2' 4"). Though later than (12) this chuval still uses an early form of the lattice. It has a typical Chodor ashik elem.


Detail of Plate 11

Another chuval that merits discussion is (19). It differs in that while the güls are arranged by colour in diagonal rows, the colours themselves are inconsistent with the rest of the group. The elem too has an unusual kejebe type design. While this design appears on many torbas attributed to the Chodor, I have seen it in the elems of only two chuvals, this and (27), which is so late that it almost does not count. Chuval (19) also has an intense ‘rose’- type palette. Initially, because of its condition,

I thought it was very old, but now I am not so sure. The elem design is related to that of (27). It has one further unusual feature

 

that sets it apart from almost all other Chodors I have seen – a very small amount of red silk in the pile which appears to have been unravelled from a piece of insect-dyed silk cloth.

I have been able to find only two torbas that are obviously part of this group, (20) and one illustrated in the Macmillan Atlas of Rugs and Carpets.21 Another torba in my collection could be placed in this group from the point of view of palette and structure, but it has a kejebe field design.


Plate 12. Chodor Group II chuval, lower Amu Darya region (?), ca. 1760 (?). 1.02 x 0.84 (3' 4" x 2' 9"). The oldest of the ‘blue güls with stars’ group, with an early zig-zag lattice and an old Yomut main border design.

Below - Detail of Plate 12

Group III attributes include:

• No blue identifier güls.

• The güls have interiors of four box devices with ‘animal’ heads, two either side of three vertically stacked ashiks.

• Güls are arranged in diagonal rows of alternating colour.

• Typically the diagonal rows are alternately red and white.

• There appears to be little or no cotton in the foundation.

• The palette of much of this group is the ‘rose’ type.

• Most of the elems have an ashik-based design.

• The güls have a ‘stepped outline’ more like typical Turkoman chuval güls.

 

• Light blue or blue-green is used, especially in the elems

of main carpets, and to outline güls.

• Hardly any Yomut influence is detectable.

Bogolyubov illustrates a typical main carpet of this group.22 He states that it was purchased in Khiva, but in my opinion it was made in Charjui. As I have noted above in respect of tribal weaving, one never knows when pieces will appear that contradict one’s theories. One such, a main carpet offered at auction in Germany in 1991,23 has Group II blue güls mixed with typical Group III güls. To confuse things further they are arranged vertically and the lattice form is unique in my experience.


Plate 13. Chodor Group II torba, Khorezm (?), ca. 1850 (?). 0.99 x 0.41m (3' 3" x 1' 4"). In this example, formerly in the Dr Jon Thompson Collection, the lattice has disappeared and the interior of the blue gül is changing. This probably represents the first step of this group being absorbed by the Chubbash. The next stage of design development can be seen in (15).

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