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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

Additional Resources

Gillow, John, and Bryan Sentence. World Textiles: A Visual Guide to Traditional Techniques. London: Thames & Hudson, 2005.

Harvey, Janet. Traditional Textiles of Central Asia. London: Thames & Hudson, 2009.

Kalter, Johannes. Arts and Crafts of Turkestan. London: Thames & Hudson, 1984.

Sumner, Christina, and Guy Petherbridge. Bright Flowers: Textiles and Ceramics of Central Asia. Aldershot, Hampshire, UK: Lund Humphries, 2004.

The Textile Museum Web site. http://www.textilemuseum.com.

“Woman’s mantle (chyrpy) [Turkmenistan, Central Asia] (1999.141).” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Web site. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ho/10/nc/ho_1999.141.htm (October 2006).

Woman’s Mantle (chyrpy)

» Tekke artist, Turkmen, Turkmenistan

The Turkmen are an ethnic group with a shared Turkic language who are first described in Central Asia in the tenth century.

In succeeding centuries, several tribes held power in the region of Turkestan until their defeat by the Russians in the 1880s. Since then, many of the once nomadic Turkmen have settled into sedentary lifestyles.

Different Turkmen tribes have both distinctive housing and dress. This type of woman’s mantle, called a chyrpy, is associated primarily with the Tekke tribe of southern Turkestan. Although it has sleeves, the chyrpy is not a jacket, but a covering worn over the head and shoulders. The sleeves themselves are vestigial and usually held together at the back of the garment with an embroidered band. Made of silk and lavishly embroidered by Tekke women, chyrpys are ceremonial garments to be worn on special occasions.

Among the Turkmen, a woman’s changing position in society is often marked by her clothing and accessories. For instance, a woman considered a bride (i.e., one who is married but has not yet given birth) will wear extraordinary amounts of jewelry, while elderly women will wear very little. Many married women also wear special headdresses. Characteristic of the Tekke, for example, are large convex headpieces called egme. The chyrpy also communicates information about a woman’s social status. A dark chyrpy like this one would be worn by a younger woman, while married or middle-aged women would wear yellow and older women would wear white.

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