Turkoman/Arabatchi, Central Asia
Goat hair, cotton and wool; asymmetrically knotted pile; overall 54 in. (137.2 cm)
The James F. Ballard Collection, Gift of James F. Ballard, 1922 (22.100.40.a)
Identifiable by the unique design vocabulary adopted by each Turkoman tribal group, this rare and important textile is one of only a few known works attributed to the Arabatchi. Measuring nearly five feet in width, the deep red field of this piece, punctuated by an unusual green fret design, is worked entirely in knotted pile. Although identical in technique to that used for carpet weaving, this large fragment once formed the front face of a deep storage bag, or chuval. Suspended from the trellislike structure of Turkoman tent interiors, these chuval served to hold family belongingssomewhat akin to a wardrobe but clearly more portable. This extraordinary piece is one of a nearly identical pair of Arabatchi chuval bag faces preserved in the Museum collection.