Turgoman rugs

The Turcoman region of rug-producing country
lies to the north of Persia and Afghanistan, and west of the Caspian Sea,
and, for our convenience in handling the subject, may include some of
the Mongolian and all of the Eastern Turkestan district. The principal
places for shipping the rugs made by wandering tribes and dwellers in
remote towns have in the past given their names to objects which have
been gathered up by caravan and sold to dealers in Oriental markets, so
that erroneous nomenclature has been obtained, and until recently little
has been done to rectify mistakes.

Even now it is but very little that any English-speaking
student can do to glean information that will more than carry him on to
the recognition of some new error which his earnest efforts may help to

The little that is known of the Turcoman country and
Turcoman products is well known, and so firmly established in the minds
those who have been long interested in the study of rugs that it is unwise
to make definite statements of recent changes that have somewhat altered
the ideas of advanced thinkers.

When Mr. S. G. W. Benjamin was our first
Minister to Persia (1883) he wrote that in Asia the rugs always called
in America ” Bokhara ” would not be recognized by that name
in the place where they were made, but as ” Turcoman rugs,”
made in the region ” which was the cradle of the Turkish “race,
and is now occupied by the fierce Turcomans, who have been at one time
and another alternately subject to Persia or to the Mongols, and are now
tributary to Russia.”

With this information the then scantily equipped
student and rug-lover proceeded to call all Turcoman rugs by that name,
until returned travellers brought home the new name ” Khiva ”
with their possessions, and we learned that the rugs were bought in the
caravan town of ” Khiva,” in the great desert, and, although
to our untrained eyes they were of various sorts they were grouped under
the one name ” Khiva.”

A quarter of a century ago the average home boasted
of few Oriental rugs at the best, and such, with the names and history
given by the Occidental dealer at the time of purchase, stand to-day to
confront the expert, and to serve as visible and accepted proof to the
contrary, when he propounds advanced and correct ideas which differ absolutely
from cherished traditions. In point of fact there are wide differences
between the fabrics of middle Asia, and in them the Mongolian elements
are so evident that they must be understood before the ornament which
has evolved from them can be properly described.

However high the mountains that separate
Turkestan from China and Tibet, and however difficult for the foot of
man to penetrate the mountain passes or to force his way under protest,
the thought life of the extreme East, with its accompanying symbolism,
has drifted westward through the centuries, and to it we are indebted
for more than at first appears.

Certain systems of adopting signs as tribal
marks, and of displaying such in prominent places about the tent home,
upon the garments of servants, and as brand marks on cattle, have obtained
through centuries, and the custom is demonstrated in the Turcoman district
with earmarks of Mongolian ancestry which differentiate it from methods
of central and western tribes of like wild nature.

In our rug-chart we have yielded the ” octagon
” to the Turcoman division, and through it and by it we may find
our way into the thought-life of the Mongolian races. Historians but meagerly
concede the rights of the Chinese to any sort of precedence, because they
do not figure in the march of nations toward the same sort of goal that
has developed the ambition and progress of the Caucasian race. Art is
at last, however, beginning to acknowledge its debt to the land where
the silk loom was first reared, and the potter’s wheel invented, and we
are but in the beginning of our knowledge of things Chinese.

In the octagon the eight divisions of location
were without doubt originally indicated, and in ancient Chinese thought
these divisions were supposed to be presided over by animal deities, just
as in all early calculations the points of the zodiac are represented
as under the control of presiding forces. The powers of light and the
powers of darkness formed the two extremes, and as such are represented
by light and shade.

When a semi-barbaric art endeavoured to express
this pictorially, the octagon, with its light and dark boundaries, was
the result, and in early drawings the animals controlling the elements
were crowded into circular and octagonal forms, and represented with great
fidelity to religious belief.

To prove that this eight-sided form traces
back to the ” Pa-Kwa,” and the ” Yang and Yin ” of
Chinese symbolism is now much easier than formerly, as both fabrics and
porcelains testify to the gradual evolution from pure symbols to conventional
forms of this design. The five directions of the Chinese—north,
south, east, west, and middle form the structural lines upon which the
famous octagon is built.

The ” Dragon,” encircling the east
from north to south, and the great ” Fung-Hwang,” protecting
the west from south to north, enclose the sacred directions. In the deterioration
of the pattern at the hands of weavers who did not comprehend it, the
animal and bird forms became mere patches of light and shade, and in Turcoman
weavings we find the Mongolian thought crystallized into a set pattern
in so-called ” Bokhara ” rugs.

The ” Pa-Kwa,” of Fuh-hi, the
mythical founder of Chinese philosophy, has formed the base of a vast
number of designs, and the ” Tae-Kieh ” has found its way into
our own land to serve decorative purposes. Volumes .have been written
by both Chinese and Occidental authorities regarding the ” Pa-Kwa,”
but for our purposes it is necessary only to state that its combination
of broken and unbroken lines is made with evident intent.

The unbroken lines represent the celestial
and male elements in nature, while the broken lines refer to things terrestrial
and the female element. By three unbroken lines reference is made to father
and heaven, and by the broken lines we find mother and earth designated,
and so on through the heavenly pantheon until the elements, fire, water,
dew, etc., are all disposed of and distributed as possessions of sons
and daughters of the Divine Parents who rule the universe. The central
disc in the pattern is divided by two semicircles. This object is called
the ” Tae-Kieh,” and, when arranged in the centre with the eight
diagrams around it, is used as a charm and as decoration for all sorts
of articles.

Among the possessions of many collectors
there exist to-day objects decorated with these lines and signs, which
until lately have been described, even in museum catalogues, as “philosophical
emblems.” When a sufficient amount of interest was awakened, students
were addressed on the subject, and they have given information which has
added perceptibly to the pleasure of those who are making collections
illustrative of Chinese philosophy.

The outline shape of the ” Tae-Kieh
” is frequently described in design, the dividing line through the
centre following the circles of the ” Yang and Yin.” The story
goes that old Fuh-hi over three thousand years ago, discovered the marks
known as the ” eight diagrams ” upon the back of a tortoise,
and in some ornamentation we find the tortoise used as a decorative feature.
Fabulous beings are sometimes represented as holding the ” Pa-Kwa,”
such being used as charms. It is generally believed that the diagrams
furnish a clue to the secrets of nature, and speculations based upon their
various combinations are indulged in by believers in occult influences
and geomancy.

When properly arranged, the three unbroken
lines referring to the ” father ” are placed in the eastern
position, and the three broken lines are placed in the west, so that,
counting the unbroken lines as three, and the broken lines opposite as
six, the number nine is the result, and -this added to the central unit
(the ” Tae-Kieh “) makes the sacred number ten.

So on all around the circle, counting the
lines opposite each other, we always have nine, so that there are four
sets of nines, each in turn made ten by adding the central unit. It is
astonishing to find that so many patterns may be traced to the ”
Pa-Kwa,” and besides ceremonial objects, ornamental and ordinary
textiles are to be found, decorated wholly or in part with motifs suggested
by the ” eight diagrams ” and the ” TaeKieh.”

Among the most distinctive and famous of
Mongolian patterns may be included the” sceptre ” or ”
joo-e wand,” the ” cloud,” the ” Y pattern,”
the ” pearl,” the ” wave,” the “trellis,”
the ” lozenge,” the “scroll,” the ” bat,”
the ” butterfly,” and many other forms which are frequently
found in Turcoman as well as in Chinese and Tibetan textiles.

In genuine Chinese rugs we find archaic
and emblematic design, but in this connection we must consider only such
as avail us in tracing the ancestry of Turcoman patterns. In Turcoman
textiles we find more to encourage us still to believe in the Oriental
rug as a thing of tribal significance than in almost any other fabrics
now made west of Tibet. The name Turcoman, once so little understood,
is now used almost universally to designate the fabrics which are made
by peoples who have lived for centuries in undisputed possession of desert
tracts and mountain retreats in central Asia.

Across the plains of Asia there have come only faint echoes of the glory
and renown of the great conqueror Tamerlane (Timoor Lenk) who in the fourteenth
century, by force of his phenomenal will power, controlled a sufficient
number of followers to aid him in his spirit of conquest, and to carry
and plant the Tartar banner all over the central and western Orient, so
that art and industry, architecture and design, were each and all different
from that period. In none of the fabrics of the district between the Caspian
Sea and Tibet, which now belongs in part to Russia, do we fail to find
motifs of design that do not in some way or other show the influence of
Mongolian thought.

Octagon and circular forms can best be studied
in Khiva and Bokhara embroideries, for in them the freedom of the needle
enables the designer to work the most intricate details that are sometimes
omitted when the patterns are woven in rugs. There are, for example, in
Turcoman design, about eight different ways of representing the sun and
its apparent motion. These eight forms of the circle are found most accurately
rendered with small and carefully laid stitches upon cotton cloth, and
in some old rugs these are reproduced and lend great value to the fabrics.

Fully twenty years ago, when the general public had
first become interested in the dull-coloured rugs affected by the highly
artistic, who had revolted from the gaily tinted fabrics of the Turkish
looms, rugs were sold and purchased as Bokharas which to-day we find should
be called by other names. Mr. Benjamin, in 1885, wrote warningly of these
so-called Bokharas, and explained that their deterioration in colour was
due to the loose principles of the Russ ian government as compared with
the Persian control of dyes and wearing. He thus writes :

” One of the finest rugs made in
the East is called by the American dealers the Khiva,’ but more often
the Bokhara,’ rug, probably because it first reached the West through
merchants trading with Bokhara and Khiva, great marts of central Asia.
By Orientals, however, the Bokhara rugs are better known as Turcoman rugs.
They are made in the region which was the cradle of the Turkish race,
and is now occupied by the fierce Turcomans, The colours used in these
rugs are few, chiefly various shades of maroon, red, and blue, interwoven
with a creamy white. The pattern is also quite uniform, consisting almost
invariably of a many-angled conventional figure often repeated in the
centre, surrounded by a border somewhat similar, but in smaller designs.
But the variety of combinations that are evolved out of this pattern is
infinite. When one sees one of these Turcoman rugs it appears as if he
had seen them all, and yet no two are alike, either in design or quality.
The durability of these Turcoman rugs is marvellous. They were not made
originally for the market, but for the use of the tribes themselves, and
are intended for .portieres of tents and to throw over temporary divans.
One may sometimes see rugs of this class, fifty to seventy years old,
that have been in constant use by some pastoral clan, and are still not
only in excellent condition, but have acquired a velvety softness and
a certain indescribable peach-bloom or sheen. To my taste there are no
rugs of the East that give more permanent pleasure to the artistic eye
than these of the nomads of Turkestan. It is therefore greatly to be regretted
that the aniline dyes which those tribes have received from Russian traders
in recent years have come into considerable use in the making of their

Under whatever term these rugs figure in
the Orient, there are three names that are used in America to distinguish
from all other fabrics those of the Turcoman district, these are ”
Bokhara,” ” Khiva,” and ” Afghan.” Analytical
study of objects has familiarized the student with the main features of
each of these styles, which, though resembling each other, do not share
all points in common.

The dark-red pile in all of them looked to
us at first to be very much the same, the point of divergence being what,
in handling the fabrics, appeared to be a warp in some of the dark-red
rugs of entirely different nature from that found in others. A white-wool
fringe soon caused us to group together another variety of rugs which
seemed unlike many bearing the same designs. And so, very, very haltingly,
progress was made. In the auction-rooms, where so much information is
freely dispensed which is not sufficiently sifted to be taken without
a grain of allowance, vast quantities of red-pile rugs with long white-wool
fringes were classed as Bokharas until the garish nature of the colour
suggested the ” Russian trader,” and great was the fall of the
modern Bokhara in the estimation of the enlightened

Antique Bokharas were finally established
as types, and wherever they are copied, whether inside the walls of the
ancient city or in Russian Bokhara eight miles away from it, on the plains
or in the mountains, whether we decide to call the fabrics “Turcoman
” or “Tekke,” they are at least at the present time known
and recognized as ” Bokhara.”

Bokhara pattern consists of a series of squares
or oblong rectilinear divisions which extend over the entire field of
the rug, around the angles of which are described octagonal forms in which
the Mongolian distribution of light and dark effects is clearly expressed.
Star-forms more or less elaborate are found at the intersection of the
crossed lines that underlie the more apparent octagonal pattern ; while
between the octagons, and in the centre of the squares or oblongs, diamond,
star, and small octagonal figures carry most significant motifs of ornament
which are always distinctly tribal. In Bokhara rugs these smaller figures
differ most strikingly, and are well worth study while still they adhere
to traditional pattern.

Mr. I. W. Bookwalter, ill describing the weaving done
by the Turcoman girls on the plains of Tartary, writes :

” The Turcoman scatters his tents
at wide intervals throughout the country he occupies. These tents are
round, from fifteen to thirty feet in diameter, and in exterior aspect
are anything but attractive, being often weather-worn and dingy. In passing
into it no change can be more startling. It is like the rapid shifting
of a scene in the theatre, so sudden is the transformation. It is difficult
to conceive anything more exquisite than the interior one often sees in
the tent of a well-to-do Turcoman. The floor is covered with carpets and
rugs of beautiful designs and exquisite colouring. The walls are encircled
with lovely hangings and tapestries and the door shielded by portieres
of richest design, all of which is the handiwork of this singular race.
The women carry into advancing years the remnants of the grace and beauty
that marked the vigourous period of their lives. Their costumes are of
graceful design, richly embroidered, and of enchanting colouring the invariable
product of their own hands.

” Being anxious to see how the beautiful
carpets and rugs were produced which connoisseurs so highly esteem as
the richest product of Eastern textile art, I visited quite a number of
homes for that purpose. The smaller rugs are woven in the tents occupied
by the family, but for the larger ones a temporary canopy is erected near
by. The ground is covered by some old carpet or other protection for the
future fabric. Two poles, of a length suited to the width of the carpet
to be made, are placed at a distance apart to correspond with its length.
From one pole to the other the warp is extended and spread to suit the
fineness of the carpet. The warp is made taut by twisting one of the poles,
which are securely staked to the ground, to prevent them being drawn together
and to preserve the necessary tightness. As the only remaining mechanism
is a heavy metallic comb, used from time to time to drive the pile firmly
together, it will be seen that the rude simplicity of their appliances
is only equalled by the marvellous results produced by it. The work is
done almost wholly by women, and most generally by young girls. The most
astounding thing in the whole process is that no pattern whatever is used,
the women relying wholly upon their memory and the eye for the arrangement
of colours and development of the pattern and designs.

” It is at once apparent to any
one at all versed in this art that the modern product is vastly inferior
to that of the olden time. They themselves are fully aware of this ; for,
when displaying a sample, if you ask them if it is an antique, they ruefully
shake their heads, as if regretting to confess that they no longer create
those miracles of texture and colour of their ancestors. It is well-nigh
impossible to obtain superior examples of the old work here, so thoroughly
have the Persian, Armenian, and other merchants searched the country.

” In Turcomania, cutting in various
directions through the treeless and almost trackless waste, are camel
trails on which, under a cloudless sky and over burning sands, can be
seen long caravans of camels plodding their drowsy, solemn way to distant
lands beyond, with which they hold a rude though not unimportant commerce.
The Turcomanians have a singular though truly chivalrous custom of naming
their women, the name being usually that of a flower, its colour, or some
feature of it. The widow of the last reigning Khan of Turcomania is called
by the Tartars Kuldja Khan, which literally means the flower of the Khan’.

In this long quotation a glimpse of life
in a remote quarter of the globe is given, for which those who cannot
travel are greatly indebted. The fact that specimens of ancient Turcoman
weaves are quite as apt to be found in the Occident as in the Orient is
made very apparent by Mr. Bookwalter’s statements, and the obligation
imposed upon the student becomes greater with this realization. The output
of the district may soon, as with that of other places, come under strictly
commercial control, and not only will the market be flooded with crude
modern specimens, but deviations from tribal designs will doubtless also

One of the choicest methods of making the
weavings of Turcomania still more beautiful is to throw in the high lights
in silk of a rose pink, which shines out with star-like radiance from
the more sombre shades used in Bokhara rugs. In antique specimens this
peculiarity lends a rare charm to choice possessions, and is greatly admired
and sought by lovers of the beautiful.

The name ” Kchatchli-Bokhara ”
is given to a variety of Turcoman rugs in which the field is crossed both
horizontally and perpendicularly by bands which carry designs similar
to those ordinarily found in border stripes, dividing the field into four
sections, which bear candelabra and plant forms. In these Kchatchli-Bokharas
the designs found in embroideries to which allusion has already been made
are often faithfully copied, and one intent upon tracing the migration
of sun-motifs in symbolic ornament may well secure Turcoman illustrations
of primitive thought.

Turcoman prayer-rugs abound, as the Mohammedan religion
finds full expression in the old city of Bokhara, where there are three
hundred mosques, and thirty colleges where the faithful are educated.
The prayer-rug design differs from those used by the Mohammedans in western
Asia, as the niche is not so prominent a feature, and the whole make-up
of the design is not as largely dependent upon it as in rugs of Asia Minor
and the Caucasus district.

Turcoman red is at its heaviest and deepest
in the rugs known in America as Khiva and Afghan rugs. Larger figures
than are outlined in the field in Bokhara rugs hold in them designs of
quite a different nature from those that give individuality to those well-known
fabrics. The octagon reigns supreme in both but rarely in the so-called
Khiva design is the slightest suggestion of animal form in the light and
dark patches that appear in their respective places at the upper left-hand
and lower right-hand corners of the octagons.

A reddish orange colour used for the light
shades in Afghan rugs renders them most objectionable to many who otherwise
would more often purchase them, but in the main the entire pile strongly
maintains an all-over red effect whatever the detail of colour may be.
Afghan rugs are made of goats’ hair and the fringe reveals the beautiful
quality of the carefully prepared material, which even in heavy carpets
is fine and silky. The lustre which some of the antique Afghans possess
lends a charm which is incomparable.

The borders, which are so distinctive and
important in Persian rugs, are less noticeable in those of Khiva ; but
they are of great significance, because, as in all Turcoman weaves, they
are of tribal import. The introduction of blue and green greatly enhances
the beauty of the colour schemes in Afghan and Khiva rugs, for, though
the prevailing hue is always red, when diagnosing the pattern it is found
that there is almost a kaleidoscopic effect about the details which lends
an indescribable charm to the whole.

We rarely find an Afghan prayer-rug, though, when
occasionally we do, it proves entrancing because of the colour scheme,
which excludes every colour but black from the tree pattern traced in
bold outline on a field of solid ruby red. Tall and straight, without
vestige of leaf or blossom, the tree and its many branches are unlike
any other that appears in woven fabrics, and one might readily believe
that the poplar of the oasis, as probably it was, gave inspiration to
the designer.

A feature that distinguishes Turcoman rugs
from all others is the wide webbing which extends beyond the pile, and
through it lines of another colour find their way from side to side. Glossy,
lustrous, rich in tone, and with heavy pile, Baluchistan rugs are never
confounded with other fabrics.

When first they came to America they were called ”
constellation rugs,” for in very many of the antiques, upon dull
bluish red, were easily traced white stars that followed well-known constellations
in pattern by tying, here and there, pure white wool knots on the dark
surface of the field. The seven stars of Ursa-Mayor were among those most
frequently represented. At the present time, even in modern fabrics, occasional
white knots are tied, but it is never possible to detect in them any definite
intention or significance.

Erroneously, but very naturally, Baluchistan
rugs have been called ” blue Bokharas,” for, though a predominance
of blue distinguishes them from other Turcoman fabrics, the general colour
red prevails, which has given style to the rugs of the entire district
east and north of eastern Persia. Under the name “blue Bokhara ”
these rugs have been marketed in towns far north of their place of manufacture,
and we have yet to discover whether we owe the name to some enterprising
agent or thoughtless Occidental.

However much at fault the individual may
have been in giving the name to Baluchistan rugs, he succeeded in so impressing
upon the imagination an idea of what these heavy blue-red fabrics were
that many who despair of ever knowing anything about Persian or Turkish
rugs will select Baluchistans from among a host of other rugs and call
them ” blue Bokharas.”

Rugs distinctly Turcoman in colour, and yet
showing Caucasian elements that none could dispute, have become known
through trade classifications as products of the Yomud tribes who live
to the east of the Caspian Sea, and whose designs show a mixture of Turcoman
and Caucasian motifs. These fabrics exist in large numbers in homes where
they are called ” yellow” or ” brown Bokharas ” by
those who, recognizing their kin to the rugs made in central Asia, have
not yet been disturbed by the strong Caucasian elements in the border

The plum-red of Yomud rugs is one of their
charms, and a blush that seems at times to partake of the nature of a
shadow gives them a rare quality which is very beautiful. Designs vary
so much in these rugs that it is misleading to fasten upon any one feature
as indicative of a special style, though it is safe to say that elongated
diamond forms more often appear than the octagons which are more truly
the property of the Tekke Turcoman weavers. Pile, warp, and woof of Yomud
rugs are of fine hair or wool, and they invite consideration and admiration.

With an ever-increasing demand for reliable
information, it is most satisfactory to observe that buyers in the Orient
are classifying much more definitely than ever they did the rugs that
they are collecting, and new names are constantly finding their way into
trade vocabularies.

Through the products of Samarkand, Yarkand
and Kashgar we are led into the Far East, and there we find an entirely
new style of rug to analyse and locate in the product of the Chinese loom.
Weaving is considered in China not only an accomplishment, but a necessary
part of a woman’s duty. ” When a woman weaves not, some one suffers
cold,” is written in the sacred instructions of Yung-Ching (1723-1736)
and long years and centuries before his time the cultivation of the mulberry-tree
and the breeding of silkworms was advised by an early empress whose memory
has always been revered and has served to stimulate others ” to give
to the nation an example of a thrifty wife.”

Legend has given to Chinese art and ornament
representations of the star goddess known as the ” spinning damsel,”
who, when sent to earth on a mission, fell in love with a cowherd. She
was recalled to the sky and her earthly husband died of a broken heart.
He had, however, lived so good a life that he was changed into a star
and given a place in the heavens ; but between him and his wife stretched
the Milky Way, over which only once a year was a bridge formed by magpies.
Over this bridge the spinning damsel crossed to the cowherd.

” On the evening of the seventh
day of the seventh month Chinese women offer sacrifices to the spinning
damsel and pray that she will vouchsafe to them skill in needlework. Then
they go to the upper story if there be one of the house, and endeavour
to thread seven needles with coloured thread by the light of the moon.
If they succeed, it is understood to be a favourable omen from the goddess.’

Traditions have been carefully preserved
and given to the world at large about all of the domestic arts practised
by the women of China, and still very little definite information can
be secured regarding the earliest methods of making pile fabrics. Though
velvet has been made for many centuries in both China and Persia, it has
not yet been determined to which country it owes its origin.

Though Persia claims the invention of the
knot-carpet as her own, yet no other country has handled wools with more
individuality than China in the production of carpets. True to traditional
patterns, Chinese weavers simply used knots to form a background for the
outlined ornaments and symbols that at once designated for whom and for
what purpose the fabrics were intended. Painted upon vases, woven in tapestries,
and embroidered upon silks, the same patterns are found that appear in
rugs, and a hundred years ago every one of them had absolute meaning,
and garments, hangings, and rugs were easily read.

When Chinese rugs first found their way to
the Occident they were classed as Turcoman if their colours suggested
fabrics of middle Persia, or as Japanese if of blue and white without
any regard to weave and materials. Eventually blue and white woollen rugs
were found to be Chinese, while most of the cotton and jute rugs turned
out to be of Japanese origin.

Later, through close examination of the patterns
in rugs that claimed to be Chinese, brought to this country by those who
had purchased them in China, experts began to identify fabrics as Samarkand
and Yarkand which had hitherto been classed as Persian or Indian, and
Chinese rugs assumed an importance in western markets that until then
had not belonged to them.

Covering the field with a network of ”
grains-of-rice ” pattern in dull white through which a pinkish: brown
ground colour is seen, many Samarkand rugs reveal their origin by their
designs. Adherence to belief in the sacred number five caused early workers
to break the fretwork which covered the field with five medallions, one
in the centre of the rug, and one in each corner, bearing either dragon
and animal forms or symbolic floral designs. When, later, the field of
Samarkand rugs was left plain, a floral vine tracery took the place of
the honeycomb effect formerly produced, and scrollwork based on cloud
and joo-e forms were finally disposed upon the field with little reference
or fidelity to Chinese symbolic pattern.

In blue and white woollen rugs made in China
there has never been sufficient deviation from significant and meaningful
designs to cause any confusion in the minds of intelligent observers.
Though represented conventionally, peonies, chrysanthemums, and lotus
blossoms are easily distinguished from each other, and the citron, known
as Buddha’s hand, and the peach of longevity, with varieties of fungus
growth, are distributed over the field either singly or in groups.

Bats and butterflies hover over and between
circular forms of the character Fuh, or happiness. There are several ways
of writing this character, and it very often appears in rugs, as does
that which represents good luck and is known as Show of which there are
a hundred forms. The two forms of Show that most often appear in rugs
are found in all-over decorations of porcelains and as embroidered designs
on silk. Five bats figure as emblem of happiness in the central medallion
of rugs which are bordered with narrow stripes bearing conventionalised
butterfly designs.

Of the designs in no other part of the Orient
can as truthful information be obtained at the present time as of those
that decorate Chinese objects, and knowledge of Turkish and Persian ornament
in no wise helps one to interpret Chinese patterns. Cloud, flame, dragon
motifs, and frets built up on the Swastika, the knot , of destiny, and
the T and Y forms figure largely in the decoration of Chinese rugs, just
as they do upon the porcelains of the empire. In some Yarkand fabrics
the field is of a solid-coloured tan which very strongly suggests camels’
hair upon which blue and white designs are most intricately wrought.

It was thought at one time that the western
influence noticeable in Samarkand rugs was not to be found in either Kashgar
or Yarkand rugs, nor in those made in China itself. The appearance, however,
of old Chinese designs in fabrics said by connoisseurs to be, strictly
speaking, of Samarkand weave, leads us to believe that antique specimens
were more apt to adhere to typical Chinese designs than those made later.

The appearance of the fillet in Mongolian
ornament is frequent and of great interest. Surrounding, as it does, all
sorts of sacred objects, its meaning is the same as the halo in Christian
art, though it is used in China to refer not only to gods, goddesses,
and saints, but to the emanation from any object of its sacred and beneficial
properties. The power to shed abroad radiance, healing, intelligence,
or attributes of any kind is typified by the fillet.

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