Wednesday, June 11, 2008
From 1855 to 1867 the Yomut were in revolt against the Khan of Khiva. Library of Congress. This weakened the Khivan Khanate and attracted the attention of Czarist Russia. In 1869 the Russians set out from Port Perovsk (Makhachkala) to establish outposts east of the Caspian Sea. They set up forts at at Krasnovodsk and Chikishlar. It was from Krasnovodsk that the Czarist troops began to probe the Turcomen lands in the east. The Fall of Khiva. "East of Khiva, the Kyzyl Kum north of Bokhara was surveyed and explored by small detachments during 1871 and 1872. Similar missions were performed by troops from Orenburg between Emba and the Aral Sea." Hinson, The Fall of Khiva.
In the spring of 1873 the Russians attacked. "On May 8, 1873 the Orenburg Column marched into the city of Kungrad, the most important settlement in the northern part of the Khanate. Muhammad Rahim's forces had abandoned the town only hours before." Hinson, The Fall of Khiva. The Russians captured Khiva and Khan Sayid Muhammad Rahim II on May 29, 1873. Khanate of Khiva 1511-1920.
"On July 7, Major General Golovachev was sent into Yomut territory, located west of Khiva, with eight infantry companies, eight sotnias of Cossacks, a battery each of guns and rockets, and two mitrailleuses which had been dragged to Khiva by the Tashkent Column. The savagery with which the Yomud Turkmen were punished over the next two weeks came from the Governor-General himself. In his orders to Golovachev, Kaufman stated that the general was to give over the Yomud settlements, and their families, to complete destruction. If the soldiery met any resistance at all, the troops were to "exterminate" the opposition. The resulting slaughter spared neither age nor sex as the Russians, and especially the Cossacks, "rushed about like madmen"." Hinson, The Fall of Khiva.
"A peace treaty signed on 12 August 1873 established the status of the Khanate as a Russian protectorate. The Khan declared himself the "obedient servant" of the Russian emperor, and all territories of the Khanate on the right bank of the Amu Darya River were annexed to Russia." Khanate of Khiva 1511-1920 Blocked by his government from annexing the (entire) Khanate, Kaufman managed to force the Khan to cede all of his lands north of the Amu Darya to the conquerors. Furthermore, the Russians obtained the right of residence, the right to trade tax-free in Khiva, and an indemnity of 202 million rubles to be paid over a twenty year period." Hinson, The Fall of Khiva. The subjugation of the Khanate had little effect on the internal affairs of the country, in which Russia interfered only in order to put down several Turkmen " Khanate of Khiva 1511-1920
Late 1873 "Short of money for the return to Tashkent, Kaufman ordered the other Turkmen tribes in Khivan territory to pay their shares of the fine, some 301,000 rubles. Becoming somewhat more reasonable, he allowed them to pay half the sum in camels and the other half in either coin or gold or silver jewelry and other objects. They were given from July 21 to August 2 to pay. The punishment of the Yomut had its desired effect on the other Turkmen bands. At the deadline, some 92,000 rubles had been collected, and as there was evidence of intent to pay, Kaufman allowed an indefinite extension to the payment deadline. To insure full payment, he took 26 hostages from among the families of Turkmen notables." Hinson, The Fall of Khiva.
So what does this mean to us as rug collectors?
So 1873 becomes the a crucial defining point. When I say "early" I mean pre-1873. The rugs from before the Czarist era are very different from Yomut rugs of 1880 - 1890. The latter we go the more predictable and mechanical in execution the weave becomes. I suggest that pieces like this Asmalyk were woven as dowry pieces. That the added care and extravagance of offset knotting is a sign of special care for traditional use in the context of the Yomut Turkmen wedding. In the Czarist era these dowry pieces became the exception and the vast majority of Yomut weaving was commercial weaving for the Russian market.
As to age it is difficult to narrow down age too much. Besides the Czarist invasion there was also the revolt against Khiva and the dispersal of the tribe. Some of what some people call circa 1870 may actually be 1920 and some of what we call "early" may be well before 1870 but I suggest that evidence of variation in structure may give us important clues to figuring out which is which.