Turkmen carpet weaving is linked to the geography and history of this country. The Turkmen people had woven carpets for centuries and they were divided and named after specific tribes. Turkmen tribal groups that lived in the west part of the country: Chodor, Goklen and Yomut; tribes that lived in the east: Tekke, Salor, Saryq; and tribes that lived in the north: Ersari were known for the production of good quality rugs.
All these tribes have weaved carpets for floor covering and other purposes and their quality rated from good to excellent. Their main motif that make Turkmen different from other oriental carpet in the gul. With the exception of rugs made by the Ersari tribe, all the others have this geometric motifs that stands for a flower. Guls of different sizes and shapes are combined together. The geometric gul and the red-brown palette are typical elements of Turkmen carpets.
They are made with wool or goat hair and the knotting technique differs from one tribe to another. There are the Ersari rugs, which have no typical tribal element, but seem to merge motifs from Chinese and Persian designs and colors that other Turkmens don’t use. Just like Ersari, even Salor rugs feature colors and structural differences that are unusual in other Turkmen carpets.
Carpets by Salor tribes share some common characteristics with Tekke tribes. Their name is related to well-known Bokhara or Bukhara rugs. The designs of these rugs are the result of a mixture of Persian, Pakistani and Afghani designs. They are the most famous of all Turkmen rugs.
Nomadic carpet weaving in Turkmenistan changed not for good during the 19th century when war and conflicts caused increased poverty. Therefore, this craft became commercialized. Carpet weaving turned into a source of income and weavers adapted their designs and colors conforming to the foreign market demand. It was also the period when the use of synthetic dyes thrived. Meanwhile, political changes induced people that the concept of nomadic life had no place in Turkmenistan. Rugs and carpets weaved after the revolution were all produced in state-owned workshops.
Currently, Turkmens take their rugs very seriously. They have the Ministry of Carpets, which focuses on the preservation of hand-weaving traditions. When one wants to buy a carpet in Turkmenistan, he or she has to prepare a lot of documents that clarify: the age, region of origin, the materials used in it, the name of the merchant, the day when it has been purchased, and provide documentations from the Ministry of Carpets that gives the approval for taking the carpet out of Turkmenistan.