Karakalpak central Asia

The Karakalpaks (also Qaraqalpaqs) are a non-Turkmen people who live in the lower Amu Daya region in Uzbekistan. Their yurts, known as otaw or qara u’y, are exceptional because of their rich decorations. They use various types of tent bands and narrower bands, both for decorative and structural reasons. Some are flat-woven, while others use mixed techniques, such as the one shown here. It is referred to as an aq basqur or white main band. It has a white basic weave with a visible warp and is adorned with higher wool pile. The aq basqur is the most important and most artistic of the tent bands.

This example is nearly 12 metres (approx. 39 ft) long. Its pattern is composed of eight panels, each with a different design. Nine smaller panels are inserted between the longer panels, and the long ends are flat-woven. In its original condition it must have been even longer. It was cut between the seventh and eighth panels, in the picture on the right, and sewn together.

For more information about the Karakalpak and their knotted work, please visit the extremely informative website by David and Sue Richardson: www.karakalpak.com.

Property of: Alberto Boralevi, Florenz
Size: 1.186 x 56 cm
Age: early 20th century
Condition: overall good
Basic weave: cotton
Pile: wool