CLOTHING xxvi. Clothing and jewelry of the Turkmen



xxvi. Clothing and jewelry of the Turkmen

Until the 1970s the clothing and jewelry of the Turkmen formed the most elaborate tribal costume still used in Persia. For men it had consisted until the 1920s of a tight-sleeved robe (dōn) of striped silk worn over loose white cotton trousers (balaq) and a calico shirt (köynek), then caught at the waist with a sash (qušaq), and worn with a cylindrical black sheepskin hat (telpek) over a skullcap (börk). Under Persian restrictions on men’s clothing (see xi, above) the silk dōn was replaced by a Western frock coat or jacket and trousers, worn with a flaring astrakhan telpek in Russian army style. Men did not use jewelry except in the mountings of weapons and harness. The silk for the dōn, and for women’s clothing, was woven locally on pit-treadle looms, still in use among the Gökleŋ in 1349 Š./1970. The qārma dōn worn by men over forty years old differed from the qırmızı dōn of their juniors in having an additional white stripe. Even with mod­ern rural dress, the feet are wrapped in white woolen puttees (dolaq) and shod in tall boots (ēdik) for riding or moccasins (čarıq) for work on foot. Summer slip­pers are called čoqay. Protection against heat or cold is given by a loose camel’s-hair mantle (čēkmen) or a long-sleeved overcoat of lambskin or sheepskin (ičmek), turned fleece outward in wet weather. As elsewhere, women retained tribal dress, despite the changes (plate clxiv).

The principal women’s garment is a shift (köynek), formerly of silk, now replaced by synthetic fibers; a raspberry red was common in the hand-woven material, sometimes with shot effects. The selvage stripe of the narrow cloth (ca. 33 cm) was used to emphasize the cut, in which gussets inserted between the rectangular pattern pieces gave a full garment widening to the bottom. The cuffs and neck opening, deep enough to allow suckling, are still embroidered. The rows of coins sewn on the front earlier in this century had vanished by 1349 Š./1970; by 1353 Š./1974 the cut had become much narrower, with a high waist. The length, to within 20 cm of the heels, allows display of the heavy embroidery reinforcing the cuffs of the drawers (balaq, julbār) worn underneath. These are made so that the baggy cotton upper part can be detached, when worn out, from the cuffs, which are made separately as dowry items, some 40 cm deep and tapering sharply toward the ankle. The ornament used to be in two broad rows of contrasting motifs with narrower bor­ders, but lack of time due to education for girls reduced it to one. Shoes, worn on bare feet, have been modern­ized but formerly had broad toes and wedge heels (kövüš). The topcoat (čabıt) used until recently by the Yomut for formal occasions was of velvet, with short sleeves and a high waist; it was left open at the front, where revers showed as elaborately machined facings. Another type was of red striped silk, with long sleeves and cuffs. The Teke used golden yellow or blue as well with contrasting handworked embroidery. The present headdress for a married woman is a carefully folded paisley headband (āldaŋi) knotted at the front and draped with a block-printed silk headcloth (yaḡlıq) that can be used as a yašmaq (veil) to show respect for senior men; earlier this was worn under the headband, which was itself formerly knotted at the back with pendant tails. When going out a woman covers the headdress with a large shawl (čarḡat), once made of silk but now of a floral print with a long macramé fringe. Girls simply wear an embroidered skullcap (börk, taḵye) with the same shift and drawers. The array of embroidery, differing slightly in color range and motifs from the Yomut and Gökleŋ to the Teke and Ērsārı, is most fully developed on a mantle with vesti­gial sleeves (čırpı), still worn by Teke women, draped by the left armpit from the crown of the tall formal headdress (plate clxv); a version with full sleeves is called kürte. The color signifies age and status. The Yomut version, bürenğek, was simpler, in green silk set off with red. All had embroidered tendrils around the collar.

This headdress, some 20 cm high, is of silk wrapped around a cylindrical framework of rushes: It was still worn by the Teke in the 1970s (called sommaq; cf. Ērsārı boḡmaq and the earlier Yomut ḵasaba; plate clxvi) for special occasions, mounted with a curved rectangular plaque of silver (eḡme) in front or a series of smaller, linked plaques (öwürme). Such Teke work is generally fretted, overlaid with parcel gilt within sinuous chased outlines, and set with carnelians; Yomut work is often stronger in contour and embellished instead with small lozenges or lunettes of gilt repoussé. The Teke coat is faced with closely set rows of bossed silver disks (čapraz) ending in a large fretted lozenge (čaŋŋa) as a clasp on each side at hip level. Long, cuff-­like silver bracelets (bilezik/bezelik) are made of four to eight repeated sections. The face is framed by long temple pendants, triangular (tenečir) or pear-shaped (adamlıq). Formerly a heavy collar (buqaw) masked the throat with interlinking pendants or a single fretted lozenge (gönjük); in the 20th century this gave way to a large collar stud (gulyaqa), closing the shift. The two braids of a married woman, worn behind the shoulders, may be covered by a set of ladder-like linked plaques (šac monjuq or sačlıq) or a character­istic heart-shaped pendant (asıq) or pendants of vari­ous sizes. Amulets can be housed in a tube, often below a triangular figure (tumar). Girls’ caps are crowned with a domed silver finial (qupba) and these of small boys with a rectangular plaque (doḡa, depebent), while the back of the boy’s shirt (kürte) is festooned with small talismans—especially those representing a bow and arrow (oq-yag), sword, adze, or ax—and disks (bēzbent) on the shoulders.



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Idem, “Crowning the Bride. Some Historical Evidence on Türkmen Women’s Costume,” Folk (Commemorative Vol­ume for Klaus Ferdinand) 33, 1991, pp. 67-106.

L. Beresneva, The Decorative and Applied Art of Turkmenia, Leningrad, 1976, pp. 9-12, pls. 55-109.

N. G. Borozna, “Vidy zhenskikh yuvelirnykh ukrasheniĭ u narodov Sredneĭ Azii i Kazakhstana” (Types of women’s jeweled ornaments among the peoples of Central Asia and Kazakhstan), Sovetskaya ètnografiya 1, 1974, pp. 32-44.

I. A. Firouz, Silver Ornaments of the Turkoman, Tehran, 1978.

A. Janata, Schmuck in Afghanistan, Graz, 1981, pls. 58-61.

W. König, “Turkmenischer Frauenschmuck,” Mitteilungen aus dem Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig 1/2, 1969, pp. 10-16.

N. P. Lobacheva, “K istorii sredneaziatskogo kostyuma (zhenskie golovnye nakidki-khalaty)” (On the history of Central Asian costume [women’s decorated head mantle]) Sovetskaya ètnografiya 6, 1965, pp. 34-49.

A. S. Morozova, “Golovnye ubory Turkmen” (Headdress of the Turkmen), Türkmenistan SSR Ilımlar Akademiyasınıŋ Tarıḵ, Arḵeologiya ve Etnografiya İnstitutınıŋˊ İšleri (Ashkhabad) 7, 1963, pp. 81-118.

Idem, “Turkmenskaya odezhda vtoroĭ poloviny XIX­-nachala XX v.” (Turkmen dress from the second half of the 19th to the beginning of the 20th century), in Sredneaziatskiĭ ètnograficheskiĭ sbornik III. Zanyatiya i byt narodov Sredneĭ Azii (Central Asian ethnographic miscellany III. Work and daily life of the population of Central Asia), Trudy Instituta Ètnografii (Leningrad) N.S. 97, 1971, pp. 168-223.

I. and J. Prokot, Schmuck aus Zentralasien. Sammlung Inge Prokot, Cologne, 1980. H. Rudolph, Der Turkmenenschmuck. Sammlung Kurt Gull, Stuttgart, 1984.

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A. Stucki, “Horses and Women. Some Thoughts on the Life Cycle of Ersari Türkmen Women,” Afghanistan Journal (Graz) 5/4, 1978, pp. 140-49.

O. A. Sukhareva, “Drevnie cherty v formakh golovnykh uborov narodov Sredneĭ Azii” (Early traits in the forms of headdress of the peoples of Central Asia), Sredneaziatskiĭ ètnograficheskiĭ sbornik (Moscow), Trudy Instituta Ètnografii, N.S. 21, 1954, pp. 299-353.

S. P. Tolstov et al., eds., Narody Sredneĭ Azii i Kazakhstana II, Moscow, 1963.

G. P. Vasil’eva, “Turkmenskie zhenskie ukrasheniya. Opyt kartografirovaniya” (Ornaments of Turkmen women. An attempt at mapping), Sovetskaya ètnografya 3, 1973, pp. 90-98.

Idem, “Golovnye i nakosnye ukrasheniya turkmenok XIX-pervoĭ poloviny XX v.” (Head and hair ornaments of Turkmen women from the 19th to the first half of the 20th century), in O. A. Sukhareva, ed., Kostyum narodov Sredneĭ Aziĭ (The costume of the peoples of Central Asia), Moscow, 1979, pp. 174-205.

Ya. R. Vinnikov, Khozyaĭstvo, kul’tura i byt sel’skogo naseleniya Turkmenskoĭ SSR (The economy, culture, and daily life of the rural population in the Turkmen S.S.R.), Moscow, 1969, pp. 178-217.

(P. A. Andrews)

Originally Published: December 15, 1992

Last Updated: October 25, 2011

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Vol. V, Fasc. 8, pp. 854-856