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4 / Ceremony and Society

Woman’s Mantle (chyrpy)
Woman’s Mantle (chyrpy)
Artist / Origin Tekke artist, Turkmen, Turkmenistan
Date 19th or 20th century
Material Embroidered silk
Dimensions L: approx. 47 in. (120 cm.)
Location de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA
Credit Courtesy of the San Francisco Museums of Fine Arts, de Young Museum

expert perspective

Jeff SpurrIslamic and Middle East Specialist, Harvard University Fine Arts Library

Woman’s Mantle (chyrpy)

» Tekke artist, Turkmen, Turkmenistan

expert perspective

Jeff Spurr Jeff Spurr Islamic and Middle East Specialist, Harvard University Fine Arts Library

In all of these societies your age was marked by your costume, your festival costume. So that amongst the Turkmen you typically had this elaborate, it was called a chyrpy, and it was an elaborate cape affair, suspended from the head, which would then have an elaborate headdress on it, with vestigial sleeves that fell down the back, and incredibly elaborate embroidery all over. But the young women preparing for her marriage would create a chyrpy that was either on a black or deep indigo ground. And when she achieved middle age, probably just when she was getting beyond her childbearing years, she would adopt a yellow-ground chyrpy, which she would then have to produce herself. And then in really old age, she would adopt a white-ground chyrpy, which are very rare, because that kind of longevity was not common, and therefore few of them needed to be made. It was a sign of august status if you lived long enough to create for yourself a white ground chyrpy. And they are incredibly scarce relative to the yellow-ground ones, which are, in turn, very scarce relative to the black- and blue-ground ones.

Most of the colors that they employed were, in some sense, locally available. There was a local madder for red. Cochineal, which creates another, slightly more brilliant red, was evidently, by the nineteenth century, available in the Tashkent area, and a couple of other areas in Uzbekistan. The yellow, which is a very prominent dye in these areas, was from the larkspur, sometimes known, for reasons beyond my knowledge, as the yellow delphinium. And the larkspur pure provided a very clear light yellow color, actually it could be quite strong, but it was really yellow. However, with an added mixture of madder, the red dye, into the dye bath, you could get a—progressively move towards a beautiful golden color. Indigo was apparently imported, from India and, therefore, had to be purchased both for urban textile production, but also out in the countryside.” 


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