Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Karakalpak rug collection of the Museum of Oriental Art in Moscow

The Karakalpak rug collection of the Museum of Oriental Art in Moscow contains 52 pieces, of which 51 pieces had been collected by I.V. Savitsky in the 1950s and were presented to the museum in 1958. Almost all of them have analogues in the collection of two Nukus museums: State Museum of Karakalpak Arts and Museum of Local Lore.

A Karakalpak rug, probably 19th ct. Size 160x117 cm
 
The collection includes rugs from Kegeily, Chimbai, and Karauzyak and other districts of Karakalpakstan. For some time, Karakalpaks used not only their own rugs for domestic purposes but those made by Turkmens and Kazakhs as well. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the yurt played an important role in the everyday life of Karakalpaks and was used for main or supplementary lodging. In the yurt interior, diverse rug items of pile, flat-weave, and mixed technique were used: bags and sacks, decorative rugs and carpets, tent bands, and others.

Karshins and eshik kases comprise the major part of the collection. These articles are also the most numerous of all Karakalpak rugs. The karshin is a bag for garments and other cloth articles. Its average dimensions are 108-110 x 30-32 cm. It is placed in the lower part of the bedding (juk), which is placed on the trunk (sanduk). It consists of two parts: a face side woven in pile or mixed technique and a flatwoven back. The karshin is placed so that its face is visible. The eshik kas is a decorative rug for the inside, upper part of the yurt entrance. On its right and left sides are two white bands, ishki jambu, made in combined technique.

Karshin (Long Bag), pile rug Kegeily region, early 20th century Size 93x31cm

The rugs in the collection have similar features to other Central Asia designs:
1. Monumental patterns. Usually Central Asian patterns of carpets and felts are large, with clear details and repetition;
2. Medallions form the basis of design. Pattern elements are placed symmetrically on one axis; 
3. The medallions have diagonal coloration, which produces an effect of slight movement; 
4. The rug palette is strict, modest, and has a limited quantity of colours and patterns.

Nevertheless, colour and patterns produce an impression of richness and variety, which is possible due to the alternation of main colour and pattern elements and due to their skilful combination, including the use of the background colour in pattern motifs. All of this creates a unity, and harmony of colours and patterns.
Source:  The Karakalpak Rug Collection of the Museum of Oriental Art, Moscow, by L.G. Beresneva and A. S. Teselkin with a commentary by George O'Bannon, 1995 vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 12-22.