Tent band for yurt “yolam”. Turkmen – Arabatchi. Transcaspia. 18th century

Tent band for yurt “yolam”. Turkmen – Arabatchi. Transcaspia. 18th century

The extraordinary Turkmen white-ground bands rise to the highest level of technical and artistic achievement and are amongst the greatest works of art left by the Central Asian nomadic cultures. They remain as a partially deciphered message from the past, a window into the lost world of the nomads from the steppes of Central Asia.

The most elaborate decorative bands could take between one and three years to complete. Some bands show abrupt changes in width, color, technique or quality, possibly due to the loom being relocated or due to a change of weaver to finish a band already under construction.

 Central Asia tent bands are made using a number of different weaving methods, including flatweave, embroidery, full pile and mixed technique (both pile and flatweave).Turkmen bands generally have a repetitive geometrical design.

Tent bands have a different purpose. In unchanging world of the Turkmen nomad, use of tent bands remained stable for centuries. Their role in decorating new home and in marriage rites gave them special importance. Undoubtedly, they were meant to exhibit outstanding weaving skill and great effort was put into their creation. Some designs have obvious interpretation in the context of marriage and the new home, such as a naturalistic woven representation of a wedding procession with camels and people or of jewelry. Other are fertility symbols, such as pomegranates or flowering trees.