Home > Rug, Kelim, Soumak, Textile Post Archive >The "Weepy" Elem Amulet
Wed, Feb 6th, 2008 01:20:45 PM
Topic: The "Weepy" Elem Amulet

On the cover of the gallery handout RK got when we attended one of the visits we paid to the McCoy Jones Turkmen rug collection when it was on exhibition at the deYoung in 1982/3 is a great Beshir-family chuval.

RK has always favored these rarely seen versions of gol rather than the more typical banner gol that grace most chuval.

This example, here, is a champion and one of our favorites from McCoys large collection.

RK had no real contact with him, as he died just as the Kelim part of his collection (which rivals his Turkmen weavings) was formed. During the 70s and 80s most of our energy was involved with Kelim and not Turkmen, hence our not getting the opportunity to develop a relationship with McCoy.

Theres lotsa water under that bridge and others, especially ms cathy, wheres my commission, cootner, and her charge, garry muse, efforts to keeping RK far away from the Joneses.

We did get to have quite some long talks with Caroline and shared her understanding about her personal, up-close, involvement with the collection.

We firmly believe if she could come back, Caroline would make some pretty interesting moves that would now surprise people who thought they had her under their control.

Shame, cootner misplayed her hand so poorly and in the process turned many people off to sponsoring and supporting Oriental Rug studies at the deYoung (and elsewhere)

But, that was then and this is now; the major blessing mr cootner is long gone, in her place Diane Mott, someone who genuinely likes, respects and is interested in rugs.

Ms Mott has moved slowly, no fault of her own as the mess cootner left pales in comparison to the monumental task of rebuilding the entire museum to allow it the greatest chance to survive any seismic activity.

RK would like to venture to say if it had not been for Mott and George Heckshers strong support and personal interests, and of course, the McCoy and Caroline Jones/ Weidersperg bequests, there would not be much of a Textile Department RK would publicize.

Although, and well granted, the deYoung does have a magnificent Costume Collection, as well as a number of important and major works of European Tapestry.

Mott knows her stuff about these collections, which are, lets all face it, far more important in the Museum world than carpets and, why not(?).

RK has had some interesting discussions with Mott, hence our knowing she really appreciates, admires carpets and, like all of us, is working to learn more about them.

But we digress back to the weepy elem.

Pictures are worth more than their weight in 1000 of words so first the pic:

Tekke Engsi Elem detail showing the weepy amulet/element

The smallest group of Engsi we know is a cluster of Tekke Engsi with this elem icon.

We have named it the weepy amulet for no reason other than it reminds us of a type of tree with weepy branches.

Many engsi and chuval have elem panels with a large row of tree-like devices, most however, are very similar.

These, clearly, are way out of that mold but this is not the place for RK to open the large can of worms a broad discussion -- where they might have come from, and how they might have developed over the 400 year time span RK uses for our Turkmen continuum would entail.

But this tree icon, weepy or not, needs no further discussion to demonstrate its properties.

There is another engsi, actually its son or grandson, illustrated in Turkmen Studies and well let you highly motivated collectors go to it and see.

We know of no closely related others.

Our reason for posting this is to draw attention to the relationship the tree in the elem of Mc Coys chuval pays to our weepy one.

Comparing these two versions is especially pertinent, as they display opposite ends of a design spectrum.

The engsi versions pure, simple. Notice each of its 4 pairs of branches ends with the same design; two outlined in white, the other two not.

While the Mc Coy version also has 4 branches but they each have a different solution at their ends.

There are other differences, which follow this schema simple for the engsi and complex for the chuval. This demonstrates a purity, an important feature RK looks for in assessing any weavings importance, provenance and worth.

That said is but one of the many criteria necessary to build credible proof in a field lacking any means of positive proof.

OK, then race-fans, to the nitty-gritty: Which is the archetypal version?

Or are they even related enough for one to be one; or for them both to have had a common one?

There is little doubt our stating both are early and prototypical will meet little objection. As to our choice?

The weepy elem icon, and the larger issue of its source and relation to other similar elem motif, is one RK has been working on for a long time.

View this post as a brief peek at one of our work-in-progress projects and for now we'll leave the question unanswered.

Author: jc
Wed, Feb 6th, 2008 01:20:45 PM

In line with John's posting of that rather unattractive KizilAyak chuval with an elem similar to McCoy's Beshir we post another for comparison.

This bag, which is offered for sale online, is a nice later example showing a field pattern we'd surmise is an amalgamation of features lifted from the much earlier McCoy chuval and several other Beshir chuvals we know.

Here, of course, it is the elem icon that is of interest.

Author: John Lewis
email: [email protected]
Tue, Feb 5th, 2008 02:39:27 PM

RK Replies:

Quite frankly, that Kizil Ayak chuval is rather ugly and unimportant.

Three strikes and you're out in baseball: In RK's world any weaving with those three qualifiers is out as well.

By the way, the identification as Kizil Ayak is an easy one and there are other examples published but we have no time to hunt those pics down presently.

However, should any motivated reader find, scan and post them in the Kazbah, or email to our webmaster, we'll be glad to add our comments.


The Kizil Ayak attribution was originally made by David Reuben. The piece is owned by Windsor Chorlton who originally posted it on ****. I remembered seeing a similar elem.

Author: jc
Tue, Feb 5th, 2008 11:15:09 AM

Here is the image of a chuval John Lewis mentions in the post below.

We agree the elem icon bears resemblance to the McCoy Beshir chuval but it is undoubtedly a later version made, as John suggested, by the KizilAyak.

Author: john Lewis
email: [email protected]
Mon, Feb 4th, 2008 08:34:38 AM

RK Replies:

Hey John:

Better resend the photo, we did not receive anything.


Hi, I have sent your webmaster a picture of a kizil ayak(?) chuval that has an elem which bears similarities to the beshir and yomud motifs. It was posted on **** some months ago. regards

Author: James
Fri, Feb 1st, 2008 08:19:10 PM

RK Replies:

We figured you and everyone else would appreciate the TM Main Carpet's version better than the others, but just thought we'd inquire.

As you should probably know by now, the dissemination and commingling of icons and amulets, which were formerly proprietary to certain groups, is frightfully apparent when Turkmen rugs are studied carefully.

This process did not only occur in the 19th century and, from all available information and indications, this was an ongoing process long before then.

RK is particularly interested in this aspect and we have been investigating in this area for quite a long time.

So far we have collated a goodly number of examples for these transmissions and transmutations and we continue to add new ones whenever we come across them.

This is a very important and fascinating topic and someday, perhaps, we will find some type of formula to describe the hows and whys some of these transmissions occurred.


The more naturalistic version looks much better to me. I wasn't intrigued by the stars per se, but rather by the similarity in usage between the Yomut and Beshir versions. That was part of the basis of my inclination to see some design affinity between those.

Author: James
Fri, Feb 1st, 2008 03:22:54 PM

RK Replies:

Spurious or not, likable or not, fact is they are there.

Do you prefer that version, or the one the earlier Textile Museum's carpet displays?

For RK there is not contest, the TM's is far superior in every respect - save the inclusion of useless doodads.

And, yes, those eight pointed stars would do little, actually nothing in our estimation, to improve that rug's naturalistic, fantastic florals.

But, considering the reality both other rug's elem are not nearly so wonderfully expressed, the stars and kotchaks are needed and perhaps that was has intrigued you, James?


I am intrigued by the juxtaposition of the 8-point stars with the "floral/tree" design in both the Bernardout Yomut and the Beshir elem. However, I am content with the notion that this could be a spurious association.

Author: James
Wed, Jan 30th, 2008 09:09:12 PM

RK Replies:

Right on, James, you're on the money with part of your answer.

The Denny engsi is the one we referred to and, yes, you are very correct in surmising it is a later copy of the one we referenced.

the Denny Engsi from Turkmen Studies

detail of the Denny Engsi

If you compare the articulation of the elem icons and amulets in the engsi we pictured and referenced in this thread with the Denny Engsi from Turkmen Studies, it is very clear the former is the prototype and the later a subsequent copy.

By the way, we examined the Denny Engsi many years ago and remember it as being early 19th century, maybe even circa 1800.

The one we reference wed date mid-18th century or possibly even somewhat earlier.

As for the other part of your reply, and the similarity you seem to feel exists between the McCoy Beshir chuval and another engsi, the Bernardout example from Turkmen Studies?

Sorry but we cannot agree with you here. We see little to no relationship.

the Bernardout Engsi from Turkmen Studies

detail of the Bernardout Engsi

The similarity you mention between the upside down elem amulet in the Bernardout Engsi and the one in McCoys Beshir Chuval, or the one in the Tekke Engsi we pictured, is not one we support.

Rather, fact of the matter is the strong relationship this icon maintains with the great, world famous, Yomud rug in the Textile Museum collection:

Yomud Main Carpet, Textile Museum collection

detail Textile Museum Main Carpet

This Yomud Main Carpet has been famous since 1927 when T.N. Goguel, a Russian writer, illustrated and wrote about it in the May, 1927 issue of the Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs.

At that time Goguel explained how rare a design it displays and dated it to the early 18th century. This early article is both refreshing and quite scholarly and we recommend interested readers seek it out. We do not believe it has been reprinted so finding the original is the way to go.

RK knows this carpet well and wed venture to date it earlier than Goguel -- perhaps to the 16th, but surely to the 17th century.

It, and not the weepy elem amulet, is the source of those upside flowers seen in the panel of the Bernardout piece.

In this version (the Bernardout Engsi) not only has the wonderfully articulated, and magical, plant form been simplified and codified but stars and kotchak have been added as well.

Just for the record, here is a picture of the elem panel of an early Kepse Gol Main Carpet that chronologically fits between the Textile Museums example and the what we see reproduced in the Bernardout Engsi.

Detail Kepse Gol Main Carpet with star and flower skirt

This is one of the best, and earliest, Kepse Gol Main Carpets we know and we date it to the mid-18th century.

As we said in the first post to this thread, we are not interested in laying out our ideas how the weepy elem amulet, or the unusual and early tree icon, developed from 1500-1900, it is just too big a topic for us to breech and, more significantly, one we are not interested in elucidating at the present time.

That said and considered, we do enjoy discussing possibilities and will be glad to further this discussion with James or any other interested readers who write in with their views.

Remember, readers can directly post pictures in the Kazbah area themselves, or email them to:
and then our diligent and hardworking webmaster will ready them for posting on the board with your post.


I am no expert, but the Beshir version seems somehow akin to those in the "upside down" panel of the Bernardout Yomut engsi illustrated in Turkoman Studies I (color plate XIII and fig. 264).

The Denny Tekke engsi illustrated in the same volume (fig. 332) has the same elem design, but looks to me to have inferior drawing to the example you have shown... James

Author: Martin
Wed, Jan 30th, 2008 12:27:24 AM

Greetings Martin:

Thanks for the compliments but, please now, why throw up and accuse RK of something you characterize as "personal debates" or "hard on other peoples views"?

We grant RK does not suffer well the fools, clowns, carpet-bagging crooks and assorted other barnyard creatures that inhabit rugdom.

Fact is we see one of our most important missions as exposing such individuals to the light of honesty and truth.

Don't you think that is more important than keeping quiet or maintaining the politically correct and moronic posture everyone else in rugdom seems to feel is proper?

What should one do when a crook like dodds bamboozles and cheats his way into selling a bogus, late genre reproduction "bellini" to a major museum who trusted his and three other respected carpet "experts" opinions the rug was "right".

Or how about hali and gerard pacquin's totally embarrassing benediction that a group of obviously FAKE Ottoman embroideries were right and real?

Or how about michael franses and others who are presenting an equally as dubious and questionable pre-19th century dating for Kaitag embroideries that clearly are centuries later?

Or how about Virginia Commonwealth University professor steven price, who runs a website where the level of information, experience and rug expertise is pathetically amateurish, and the "discussions" are often boring and far from enlightening to anyone, even rank novices?

Sorry Martin but we realize you are a participant over there and, while you and others are not culpable, if professor price would close his website to public participation you and others would either have discontinue your public posting or do it somewhere else where a far higher and more worthwhile level of discourse could exist.

Where might that be? Well, right here, on RugKazbah.com.

We are sorry to seemingly point a finger at you but that is not the purpose of our comments. Rather our comments are aimed at demonstrating your stated belief RK is unfairly "hard" on people and that this posture limits the value of our postings is completely wrong.

It is nothing but an excuse to ignore, or even worse to denigrate, our message and, as the old saying goes, throw it out with the bathwater.

We will be glad to entertain yours, and anyone else's, ideas, comments and opinions about old rugs, regardless of whether or not we agree.

However, we will not allow those, like michael bischoff, jimbo allen, david hunt or cevat kanig for example, whose rug-knowledge is elementary or based on pompous BS to pontificate their nonsense and dribble on our website.

Nor we will allow anyone a free ride in disseminating valueless salesmanship and unsupported patter as fact in any public or private forum to which we are acquainted.

And, yes Martin, you are correct: RK has much to give and in that regard we like to ask don't you think we have done enough of that already?


Very interesting. Looking very much forward to the follow up.I of course have a lot of respect for your experience. But I find the personal debates very sad. So I hope you are not going to be to hard on other peoples views.There are so many questions regarding these rugs that needs constructive reflections from all with knowledge and experience of them.regards, respect and no offence Martin

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