Felt rug

Country: Turkmenistan
Felt carpet, Daragt Keche with the Tree of Life motif. Master Guzel Ataeva, Mary province, Sakar-Chaga village, 2016

Due to environment and traditional conditions of life of the Turkmen, keche felt rugs were and still are one of the most needed items in the household. There has been a widespread expansion in the production of ornamented felted items among the Turkmenistan. Felt rugs were affordable and available to ordinary people. Felt sheets were used to cover the nomadic dwelling—the yurt and to cover the ground inside it. Felt was used to produce saddlecloth and yapyndja (cloak for shepherds), as well as various smaller size household items. Amulets that are hung at the entrance of the dwelling were also made from felt. Special white felt sheets were used as prayer mats.

Entire process of producing Turkmen felt rugs is manual. Basic material used is sheep wool. Ornament is felted into the product. Artisans, while on their knees, mangle back and forth a roll of multicoloured wool. From time to time, hot water is poured on top of the roll. It is tapped and beaten with palms and elbows, in order to let layers of wool hold together. That’s how a new felt rug is born.

Ornaments of the felt rug change. They continuously evolve and provide endless varieties at the same time retaining main style of the composition. Best felt rugs in the country come from Saryk tribe. Although Yomud tribe rugs are thin, double sided and famous for superior quality of finishing.

Women on the process of felting keche, Mary province, Sakar-Chaga village, 2016

Due to the sheep’s wool, the rug not only keeps the premises warm, but also keeps the dwelling and its inhabitants safe. Due to its thick, coarse structure, it prevents from entry in such dangerous representatives of local fauna such as steppe black widow spider, solifugae, scorpion. Also, there is a notion that rugs made from lambswool are good for one’s health.

Turkmen felt varies widely in colour and ornament. Monochrome big sheets of felt were made specifically as a cover for nomadic dwelling. Turkmen felt, better than woven carpet, was able to preserve ancient ornaments and symbols. The most popular and widespread ornament is saryichyan—yellow scorpion. The ancient symbol of sun, preserved by colourful ornaments of felt rugs, depicts yellow or red circle with rays of light extending away from it. Another very popular ornament one can find on felt rug is daragt (tree of life). Another widely used ornament is gochak (sheep horns).

The felt rug that was born in nomadic lifestyle. Nowadays, despite the drastic changes in way of life, it still remains a very important attribute of the interior of Turkmen dwelling.