Guide to Turkmen Arabachy Rugs & Carpets
Background / History
“In fact, maybe Arabatchi (sic) work is so hard to find because it’s so ugly – the Arabatchi (sic) in a fit of embarrassment over the uniform ugliness of the wool and the drawing and the color of their various chuvals and torbas may have gathered them into heaps and set them ablaze, hoping, like the villagers at the end of Frankenstein, that through fire they had cleansed the cosmos of ugliness and moral depravity. But no! . . . Somehow, a few of their wretched artifacts escaped, and like the monster rising from the rubble of the Baron’s castle, their ugliness has once again been loosed on the world.” Whither Turkomania? by Lawrence Kearney
“The next major development seems Moshkova-related and appeared in an auction catalog from Lefevre and Partners in 1977. There Thompson followed up his S-group breakthrough with another new label and group. These rugs were attached to an obscure tribe called the Arabatchi (sic), which had been mentioned in passing by Bogolubov, and who were described by Moshkova as using the tauk noshka gul on their main carpets. Beginning with such a main carpet, of a type not readily identifiable to another tribe, Thompson demonstrated how other pieces, including a type of engsi, were related on structural and color grounds. The existence of the group seemed clear enough, although not so firm as the S-group, but the Arabatchi label has not been so firm. Moshkova’s comments about the tribe are not above reproach, as she contributed the highly dubious suggestion that Arabatchi designs are ancestral to those of other tribes.
With the Arabatchi (sic) in particular, the market witnessed the full flowering of a phenomenon that had been growing within the Turkoman boom. If a rug had a special label, it suddenly became more desirable. For some reason this soon became clear with the Arabatchi, whose rugs had never attracted attention for their beauty. It is no coincidence that news of their existence was announced in an auction catalog.
In 1978 the Werner Loges book appeared, which did not introduce novel material but seemed to ratify such new material as the Arabatchi label. Turkomania seemed to dominate the auction houses, and ever higher prices were commanded by the new champion, the S-group.” TURKOMANS AND SCHOLARSHIP
Structure Notes on the Arabatchi
Structure: Asymmetrical knot open left. 10 knots per horizontal inch and 12 – 15 knots per vertical inch. 120 – 150 per square inch. Slight to moderate depression. Sometimes symmetrical side knots.
Yarn Spin: Z.
Warp: 2 ply animal hair, light to medium brown.
Weft: 1 shot 2 ply (1 ply cotton and 1 ply wool), brown and white barberpoled. Dr, Murray Eiland Jr. in Oriental Rugs A Complete Guide quotes Thompson in the A.A. Bogolyubov, “Carpets of Central Asia: Basingstoke, 1975. as specifying 1 shot 2 ply cotton and 1 shot 2 ply wool. I can not find my copy of Bogolyubov and I do not know of a sample that conforms to that description.
Selvage: 2 cord attached. Aubergine wool in Mackie Pl. 55
Pile: 2 Wool or animal hair singles singles. Hair in the Ballard Arabachy Mackie Pl. 54
Further Notes: Mackie Pl. 54 & 55 the dark brown is natural undyed.
Cocoon Arabachi Turkmen Chuval
Arabatchi Turkmen Chuval, Southeast Turkestan, Early 19th Century
An Arabatchi Chuval, Southeast Turkestan, early 19th century terracotta silk highlights partially repiled, small reweaves, moth damage, losses to sides and ends. Approximately 2ft. 2in. by 4ft. 7in. (0.66 by 1.40m.)
Arabatchi Turkmen Camel Trapping (Kejeblik)
Turkmenistan 19th century. Silk highlights, two small holes in right edge, some repairs to selvage. Approximately 1 ft. 9 in. 5 ft. (053 by 152 cm)
Sometime ago, research indicated that two Turkmen tribes (Arabatchi and Chodor) were closely allied in the 18th century. We have a carpet which will support this contention. It seems to stem from the era under discussion and has four very early main guls; Two from the Arabatchi and two from the Chodor.
(Chaudor Gul) Here we see the small iconographic forms that often occur in Chaudor ertman guls.
(Arabatchi Gul) Here we see a gul of the type we generally see attributed to the Arabatchli.
An Arabatchi Juval
Southeast Turkistan, mid 19th century. Hole, moth damage, wax residue on surface, losses to sides and ends, overcast sides. Approximately 3 ft. 10 in. by 3 ft. by 4 in. (117 by 102 cm).
Warps: Wool, Z2S, ivory/dark brown/ash mix.
Weft: Wool, Z1, 2 shoots, ivory/dark brown/ash mix.
Pile: Wool, symmetrical knot.
Density: 7 – 8h 8 – 10v
Sides: Not original.
Colors: Cranberry, persimmon, mint, lemon, pale to deep sapphire, ivory, walnut.
Oriental Rugs From Pacific Collections
If indeed this is a degenerative Arabatchli we should see vestigial clues as to the origin of design. Please note the hook which appears to be a degenerated form of the Arabatchli Double hook to the right.
Note how the circles of the outer border of the Arabatchli star become the colored squares of the Kazak. The two headed beast in the Arabatchli has degenerated into the floral form leaf of the Kazak.
Notice in the central medallion of the Caucasian rug that on the four vertical segments there are little meaningless hook like invaginations into the field of the medallion. They are meaningless until you see their counterpart on the Arabatci original.The iconographic device filling the interstitial spaces between the large stars of the Arabatchi are found repeated four times in the Caucasian run along the sides of the its field.
The devices found on the extremes of the vertical axis of the eight pointed stars of the Arabatchi are found simplified in two similar devices on the Caucasian. Considering the closeness between these two weavings one would imagine the Caucasian rug should be first half of the 18th century.
Arabatchi Ensi Rug, last quarter 19th c.
Size: approximately 4ft. 7in. by 4ft. 9in. (1.40 by 1.45m.)
Condition Note: partial original upper kilim end finish, reselvaged, foldwear, losses to lower end, upper end guard stripes partially rewoven