Rare Pair of Tree Asmalyks

Rare Pair of Tree Asmalyks


68 x 127 cm / 72 x 126 cm max. (excl. tassels)


This rare pair of tree asmalyks was made by a member of the Yomut tribe, one of the major Turkoman tribes, around or not long after the middle of the 19th century.

Asmalyks are animal trappings which were used on the flanks of the animal, often a camel,  carrying the bride to her new home. As such, they were an important part of the dowry to be featured in the wedding procession.

The pentagonal examples in hand show the typical characteristics of such important items of tribal weaving: excellent quality of wool and saturated dyes, extremely skillful weave and an artistically restrained use of design elements.

Five vertical panels on alternating indigo blue and madder red grounds contain the chevron-like serrated lancet leaves pointing downwards. It is these leaves that are responsible for the name given to this type of asmalyk. The use of offset knotting enabled the weaver to create extremely precise diagonal outlines to the leaves which appear in a regular order, from top to bottom: white – dark blue – white – lighter blue etc. on the red panels, and secondary red – red – secondary red – aubergine etc. on the blue panels. The economy of colour and pattern gives these pieces a gravitas appropriate to the significance of the occasion for which they were made.

Two minor borders with a so-called “running dog design” enclose the main border on three sides. The tassels and the roping to which they are attached around the bottom appear to be original.

Not many pairs of asmalyks have been published. An individual one, very similar to the pair in hand, was in the auction of the Pinner Collection at Rippon Boswell on 15 May 2004 and sold for Euros 5,300. Hans Elmby had a similar piece in his exhibition Antikke Turkmenske Taepper II in October 1994 (catalogue no. 25), but again, this was not a pair.

Having a pair of these examples of tribal art is a collector’s dream. They are in excellent original condition.